We’ve known for months that one of the most common, and weirdest, symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of smell. In fact, studies are finding that between 74 and 81 percent of patients with a mild to moderate infection experience this phenomenon.
What you may not know is that’s not necessarily the worst of it. That’s because COVID patients can also experience a strange condition called parosmia — where your sense of smell is distorted.
While you may be smelling one thing, your brain tells you that you’re smelling something completely different and probably unpleasant.
For example, instead of smelling the refreshing scent of a lemon, you may think it smells like rotten cabbage. That steaming cup of hot cocoa could smell like you’re holding a gasoline-soaked rag up to your nose.
And we thought it was bad enough to just lose our sense of smell! Who knew it could get worse?
Well, luckily no matter which type of smell issue you’ve experienced due to COVID or even another virus, a collaborative study by researchers from five colleges plus a major U.K. hospital has found a way to get your true sense of smell back…
Sniff, sniff — aha!
The team decided to test the results of smell training on 143 participants who had experienced a loss or change in their sense of smell due to a viral infection.
They gave each person their very own smell training kit, consisting of all kinds of fun odors. The varieties of smells used across the kits were:
Participants were then asked to sniff at least four different odors twice a day every day for six months.
And guess what…
The team found that smell training resulted in, “Clinically significant recovery in smell function for people experiencing post-viral smell disorders.”
They also found that smell training was particularly effective for older people to help them recover their sense of smell. And that the biggest improvements were seen in people who had lost the most amount of smell function in the first place due to the infection.
Reorganizing your brain
According to the researchers, the training works because it assists in recovery based on neuroplasticity — your brain’s ability to reorganize itself in order to compensate for a change or injury. And because of this, the training can actually help your smell pathways begin to regenerate and recover.
They do point out that they carried out the research before Covid-19, but that it should be helpful and apply to those of us who have lost our sense of smell due to the pandemic.
So if you or someone you love has experienced problems with their sniffer due to COVID — either loss of smell or those weird distortions of parosmia — try putting together a smell training kit today. Sniff four different odors multiple times throughout your day to increase your chances of regaining your sense of smell.
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