New Therapy for the Olfactory System: Regaining the Sense of Smell Taken by COVID-19

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Image via Tony Alter at Creative Commons

Among the well-known symptoms of the COVID-19 virus is the loss of smell and taste, which may be slow to return in the aftermath. Former COVID-19 patient Matt McBride of Bucks County’s Holland is rehabbing his damaged nasal receptors with a specialized therapy regimen, reports Lynne Adkins of KYW Newsradio

McBride’s experience of anosmia — the medical term for the temporary loss of smell — is one of the strongest predictors of the presence of coronavirus in a patient, according to Harvard Medical School. It short-circuits the sense of smell in patients not by directly affecting sensory neurons but by affecting the function of supporting cells that surround those neurons. 

The good news, as McBride is learning, is that the damage can be repaired, or at least mitigated. 

He is retraining his nose to respond to various stimuli, meaning he sniffs various scents for five minutes per session, over several sessions per day. He pays close attention to the name of each scent, strengthening the cranial connection between what he’s smelling and what it’s called. McBride’s nasal workout includes fragrant essential oils, lemons and cloves. 

“I’ll work with them for about 30 seconds each, maybe five minutes total, and then when I come home later in the day, and once or twice before I’m going to bed,” he said. 

McBride characterizes the recovery as noticeable but not quick. Over the past 12 weeks, he reportedly has regained about 50 percent of the sense of smell COVID-19 erased. 

More information on McBride’s recovery is on KYW Newsradio

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