What will data from a meta-analysis indicate about the prevalence of taste disorders and their subtypes in patients with COVID-19?
Explore This IssueNovember 2021
Due to the high prevalence of taste disorders as an early clinical symptom in patients with COVID-19, proper screening and evaluation should be performed.
BACKGROUND: Smell or taste disorder is among the chief symptoms suggesting SARS-CoV-2 infection. Although taste dysfunction has been linked to retronasal olfactory dysfunction, recent data suggest that it is an independent manifestation. Given the evolving situation, an updated meta-analysis could shed light on the association between taste disorders and COVID-19 infection.
COMMENT: This is an impressive meta-analysis of taste disorders among patients with COVID-19 infection that includes almost 30,000 patients. The authors provide a relevant snapshot of how COVID-19 affects taste in the global population, as well as an evaluation of the prevalence of dysgeusia subtypes among patients. —Cristina Cabrera-Muffly, MD
STUDY DESIGN: Systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
SETTING: Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Malaysia.
SYNOPSIS: Researchers searched multiple databases for relevant literature published between Dec. 1, 2019, and June 23, 2020. They identified 59 eligible studies (29,349 patients, 64.4% female). For subgroup analysis, the prevalence of taste disorders in patients with COVID-19 was analyzed by geographic region, type of taste disorder (ageusia, hypogeusia, dysgeusia), and type of assessment (subjective or objective). The studies were from five continents and 23 countries, and the pooled prevalence of taste disorders in patients with COVID-19 was 48.1% (European 55.2%, North American 61%, Asian 27.1%, South American 29.5, Australian 25.0%). Among all cases, ageusia, hypogeusia, and dysgeusia were observed in 28.0%, 33.5%, and 41.3%, respectively. Authors note that the prevalence of taste disorders in studies with objective assessment was higher when compared with subjective assessment (59.2% vs 47.3%) and that differences in prevalence findings across the world may be due to underreporting and underestimation. They conclude that further studies employing reliable and vigorous objective testing are required. Study limitations included the lack of a true global scale.
CITATION: Saniasiaya J, Islam MA, and Abdullah B. Prevalence and characteristics of taste disorders in cases of COVID-19: A meta-analysis of 29,349 patients. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2021;165:33-42.