Special training may help COVID-19 patients regain their sense of smell after suffering from parosmia, a new UK study suggests.
Parosmia is a condition where people have strange and often unpleasant odor distortions. Instead of smelling a lemon, for example, you can smell rotting cabbage, or chocolate can smell gasoline. Parosmia has been linked to COVID-19 and other viruses and head injuries.
“Some degree of odor loss is believed to affect up to a quarter of the general population,” said researcher Carl Philpott, of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.
“Odor loss is also an important symptom of COVID-19, and we know that the pandemic leaves many people with long-term odor loss or odor distortions such as parosmia,” he said. he said in an academic press release.
Odor training involves sniffing at least four different smells twice a day every day for several months.
“It aims to aid recovery based on neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself to compensate for a change or injury,” Philpott said.
The researchers worked with more than 140 people who had lost or had changes in their sense of smell.
Patients in the study received a variety of scent training kits – including different scents, such as eucalyptus, lemon, rose, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, lavender, honey, strawberry, and thyme.
“We found that the presence of parosmia and poor olfactory performance during odor identification and discrimination tests was associated with clinically significant recovery of olfactory function in people with post-viral odor disorders.” , Philpott said. “This means that odor training can help the olfactory pathways begin to regenerate and recover.”
Investigators also found that older people were more likely to begin to regain their sense of smell. In addition, the greatest improvements were seen in those who had lost the most olfactory function.
The research was conducted before the pandemic, but researchers believe their findings could help people who have lost their sense of smell to COVID-19.
The report was published online recently in the journal The laryngoscope.
To learn more about odor loss, see the US National Institutes of Health.
: The University of East Anglia, press release, November 28, 2020