If you’ve had COVID-19, or have a loved one suffering from the disease, you’ll know that a common symptom they may have experienced is loss of smell. According to the American Academy of Neurology's 73rd annual meeting in April, COVID-19 smell loss can last up to 5 months in patients and can be permanent for some! However, doctors are using the method of “smell training” to help regain your sense of smell quicker, or prevent it from lasting longer than it may (Holohan, M., 2021).
In the studies at least half of the patients reported that their smell did not come back to normal prior to getting sick. Apparently the inflammation caused onto the nerve cell is what causes the loss of smell. Although research is still active, the study suggests that even if it persists, it can get better (Holohan, M., 2021).
You may have seen the video trends that some COVID victims play around with when they have loss of smell/taste by blindly trying intense aromas from ingredients like alcohol, vinegar, garlic, etc. and trying to guess what it is. Usually they communicate that they may smell or taste nothing, but our sense of smell is vital in helping us process and interact with our environment. Our 5 senses are the original ways in which we learned how to survive.
Smell training is the technique of sniffing the same 4 aromas for at least 15-20 seconds everyday in which your sensory cells connect to the memory of the aroma in your brain. Dr. Del Signore explains how he uses smell training with his patients:
“They sniff the essential oils for 15 seconds in and out, which helps do almost like a rehabilitation on the nasal nerves, the smelling nerves, which helps to get it rebooted,” Del Signore said. “It helps with the reestablishing of that continuity of the nasal nerves to really get their sense of smell back.” (Holohan, M., 2021).
It's simple, safe and anyone can do it with a few minutes in your day. As mentioned in our previous article, the nerve cells in our nose send messages to the brain triggering a response to our body, in which, it is the brain that stores the memory of what a particular smell is for each and every one of us.
My Personal Experience With Smell Loss When I Had COVID-19
I myself lost my sense of smell when I had COVID last year. I made sure to continuously expose my nose to aromas like orange, peppermint, lavender, even coffee grinds to not just retrain my brain to connect with my sensory cells, but to gain the therapeutic properties while my immune system was low. My smell loss lasted about 2 weeks.
Gain Control Out Of This Very Inconvenient Situation
Even though we don’t have much control over whether or not we get this disease and how contagious the variants are, olfactory changes are normal when we get sick. We tend to develop stress and anxiety when things are beyond our control, so why not empower yourself to find the small ways that can reduce the impact of those issues? Smell training can be one of the ways to cope throughout this uncontrollable process. Pick any 4-5 aromas and begin your training with an open mind, a sense of patience, and the commitment to keep the process up until your smell comes back. When one smell comes back add a new one to your routine. Muscle memory isn’t just for our bodies, it’s for our brain too!
Galia, F. (2021, February 23). I Help COVID Patients Learn How To Smell Again. Here’s What I’ve Seen. HUFFPOST UK, from https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/smell-training-coronavirus_uk_603445edc5b66da5dba3c094
Holohan, M. (2021, February 22). COVID-19 loss of smell can last up to 5 months, new research finds. TODAY, from https://www.today.com/health/covid-19-loss-smell-can-last-5-months-new-research-t209689
This blog post was not intended to treat, prevent or cure any illness; and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice provided by a doctor/ licensed professional.