Will my sense of smell and taste come back after I was tested positive for COVID-19?
Your sense of smell and taste will come back.
Of course, these are very unsettling symptoms, but the good news is the vast majority of those effected will experience a rapid recovery of symptoms in a month's time (70-80%; Kacem et al. Neurol Sci 2020; Rieter et al. Am J Otolaryngol 2020). For those who do not recover within 4 weeks, however, there are options to help aid recovery.
Olfactory training was developed as a tool to aid those with smell and taste disturbance, and follows principles that wine sommeliers use to enhance their own sense of smell and taste. This involves repetitive stimulation of olfactory nerves with the goal of improving general olfaction. The original article (Hummel et al. Laryngoscope 2009), exposed subjects with smell and taste loss to four intense odors (clove, eucalyptus, lemon, and rose), twice daily, for 15 seconds over a period of 12 weeks. These odors were originally chosen because they reflect distinct categories of the "Fragrance Wheel." Over time, study participants experienced improved sense of smell and better sensitivity.
Using this protocol, in COVID-19 patients we hope to tap into the brain's regenerative capacity. While there are no set rules for the type of essential oils to use, beginning with those from the original study is a great starting point. We even have patients change the types of essential oils every 3 months to new odors.
While this "physical therapy for the nose" may not work for everyone, it is the only proven form of treatment we have. I am wishing all of those affected by this virus best of luck in their recovery!
Written by: Dr. Qasim Husain.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Coastal ENT today at: 732-280-7855