Total leukocyte and neutrophil counts lower among patients with hyposmia
FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Loss of smell and taste are common in patients with COVID-19 infection, and these symptoms may precede systemic symptoms, according to a study published online Dec. 9 in Neurology Clinical Practice.
Francesco Bax, M.D., from the University of Udine in Italy, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis involving patients admitted during March 2020 to the nonintensive COVID-19 unit of Udine University Hospital. Ninety-three patients were interviewed with a standardized questionnaire to examine the prevalence of hyposmia and dysgeusia.
The researchers found that 62.4 percent of cases had hyposmia and dysgeusia. Olfactory and gustatory impairment clearly preceded systemic symptoms in 22.4 percent. In both groups, the presence of active smoking was very limited (8.6 versus 2.9 percent in hyposmic and normosmic patients, respectively [odds ratio, 3.2]). In the hyposmic cohort, total leukocyte and neutrophil counts were 23 and 29 percent lower, respectively. For other inflammatory biomarkers, no difference was observed.
“More research is needed to determine whether this decrease in white blood cells we observed can be used to help identify patients in the early stages of COVID-19 infection,” Bax said in a statement. “For people whose first symptoms were loss of taste and smell, we found very few had nasal congestion, so we think obstruction of the nasal passages is an unlikely cause of these symptoms. However, the association between a blood cell imbalance and losing your sense of smell may help in identifying patients at risk.”
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