Can COVID-19 Cause Smell Loss for Some People ?

Dr. Swati Maheshwari

Anosmia or loss of smell has been classified as one of the early symptom for COVID-19. People suffering a viral infection like common cold can lose their sense of smell and taste, the cause for which is still not clear. For most patients the sense returns within a few weeks while for some the loss could be permanent. Researchers are still trying to figure out if the olfactory system is attacked in a different way in case of COVID versus other viral infections.

The Olfactory nerve relays sensory data to the brain, and is responsible for the sense – smell. Perhaps, COVID-19 meddles with the working of the olfactory functions, incapacitating the brain as a result, some studies suggest.

Long term loss of smell can be a result of an inflammation of the nerve. It is most likely an aggressive inflammation which can cause a long lasting tissue damage. Where a course of steroids may help reduce the inflammation for some, a better understanding of the way coronavirus interacts with the olfactory functions might give a better outlook on the whole problem.

Scent therapy for treatment

As the name suggests, scent therapy or smell retaining therapy is physical therapy for the nose that involves strong smells, usually essential oil – clove, lemon, peppermint, lavender etc. With constant exposure of the nose to strong fragrances, you’re encouraging the brain to remember the fragrance associated with them, resulting in speedy recovery.

While not a cure, evidences suggest that smell training might be effective, but there is no evidence to support that it works for all.

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