Providing care for patients with smell and taste loss
Published: January 24, 2023
By: Madeline Hand, courtesy of UAB Medicine
A new clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is now available to patients suffering from smell and taste loss as a result of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
The UAB Medicine is projected to be the first specialized clinic for patients suffering from olfactory dysfunction in the state of Alabama. The clinic aims to provide comprehensive and state-of-the-art care to patients suffering from smell and taste loss.
Post-infectious olfactory disorder has impacted a significant number of patients who have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the pandemic. Officials estimate that over 60 percent of people who have contracted the virus are affected by this symptom, and current data shows 46 percent of these patients report extended smell loss.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 500,000 people in the state of Alabama have experienced continued smell and taste dysfunction.
After reporting a surge of smell and taste loss patients, UAB physicians recognized the demand for comprehensive functional tests to measure the magnitude of smell and taste dysfunction in patients.
“We intend to manage these patients with evidence-based treatments and tailored education, thus enhancing the ability to improve outcomes and avert long-term complications,” says Do-Yeon Cho, M.D., director of the Smell and Taste Clinic and an associate professor of the UAB Department of Otolaryngology.
The program aims to create a centralized clinic that administers comprehensive care for patients afflicted with olfactory dysfunction.
UAB will also develop a support group for those affected by olfactory impairment that raises awareness, implements education and highlights preeminent research priorities based on patients’ perspectives.
Furthermore, the clinic endeavors to progress in research and understanding of the financial impact and pathogenesis of smell and taste disorders based on creating a clinical database and performing cost-benefit analyses. Cho and his team expect this accumulation of data will permit UAB to secure future funding and undertake new research directions within the field.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Alabama has grown an enormous number of patients with smell and taste loss due to one of the highest infection and lowest vaccination rates in the country,” says Bradford Woodworth, M.D., interim chair of the UAB Department of Otolaryngology. “To continue to meet the mission of UAB Medicine to provide innovative health care, superior education and cutting-edge research, we need a comprehensive care program that treats individuals with smell and taste disorders.”
The clinic began seeing patients Jan. 23. Prospective patients should call 205-801-7801 and select option 1.