E-ISSN 2602-4837
The Turkish Journal of Ear Nose and Throat Changes in internet search behaviors related to smell and taste disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey [Tr-ENT]
Tr-ENT. 2020; 30(3): 92-98 | DOI: 10.5606/Tr-ENT.2020.61587

Changes in internet search behaviors related to smell and taste disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey

Erdal Sakallı1, Dastan Temirbekov1, Mehran Mahouti2, Mustafa Caner Kesimli3, Deniz Kaya3
1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Istanbul Aydın University, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul, Turkey
2Faculty of Engineering, Computational Bioformatics and Artifical Neural Networks, Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey
3Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Liv Hospital Ulus, Istanbul, Turkey

INTRODUCTION: This study aims to assess the change in internet searches terms related to smell and taste disorders (STDs) during the novel coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and to investigate the relationship between the changes and the daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in Turkey.
METHODS: Between March 1st, 2019 and April 30th, 2020, the average number of internet searches of the most common 10 key terms related to STDs during the COVID-19 outbreak was compared to the average number of internet searches of those terms in previous months in Turkey. The daily average number of most common 10 key terms based on Google AdWords (GA) and the relative search volume (RSV) of most searched two terms (“inability to smell” and “inability to taste”) related to STDs based on Google trends (GT) were compared with the change in the daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Turkey.
RESULTS: The average number of internet searches of 10 key terms between March and April 2020 increased approximately six times from both the average number of the same terms in the previous 10 months and between March and April 2019 months period (p<0.001). We identified a strong correlation between the daily numerical changes of key terms and the increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths (r=0.810 and r=0.783, respectively; p<0.001). There was a strong correlation between the RSV surges of two terms (“inability to smell” and “inability to taste”) and the increase in the daily number of cases and deaths during the outbreak in Turkey (p<0.001).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 in Turkey led to an increase in internet searches terms related to STDs. This increase was strongly correlated with the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Turkey.

Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Google trends, smell disorders, taste disorders

Erdal Sakallı, Dastan Temirbekov, Mehran Mahouti, Mustafa Caner Kesimli, Deniz Kaya. Changes in internet search behaviors related to smell and taste disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey. Tr-ENT. 2020; 30(3): 92-98

Corresponding Author: Erdal Sakallı, Türkiye
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