Unrelated to COVID-19, it turns out that olfactory impairment, or the loss of smell, is associated with a higher risk of early death. In a recent meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers pooled data on over 21,000 patients. They found that compared to people with a normal sense of smell, those with olfactory impairment had an increased likelihood of early death. While this study does not prove that loss of smell causes disease and death, it does show that it might be a risk marker for poor health and aging. Previous studies have shown that olfactory impairment is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cognitive decline, as well as epilepsy, kidney disease, and diabetes.