One of the most common complications of covid-19 is loss of smell and taste. Although it is not fatal and does not seem to interfere with leading a full life, people facing this problem can truly suffer.
Smells play an important role in a person's life. Some researchers believe that homo sapiens' ability to distinguish odors is no lower than the average of other mammals. Olfactory function is linked to other body systems and can affect body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tone and the vestibular analyzer. Smell plays an important role in non-verbal communication, helping us to choose those people with whom it is easier to communicate or giving us important information about a partner's emotional state; it influences our own emotions, may increase or decrease stress, or stimulate important memories.
There is evidence that about 30% of people who have lost their sense of smell have symptoms of depression. Not being able to enjoy the taste of food, decreases mood, appetite and leads to GI disorders. In addition, the sense of smell is important for survival; inability to properly distinguish odors can lead to trivial poisoning by stale products or harmful substances, increases the risk of gas poisoning, etc.
Dysosmia - impairment of odor perception varies in strength:
► anosmia - absence of sense of smell
► hyposmia - reduced sense of smell
► hyperosmia - intensification of odour perception
► parosmia - perverse perception of odors
phantosmia - perception of odours that do not exist
► agnosmia - inability to distinguish smells, while olfactory function is intact
Characteristics of olfactory loss with COVID-19
Today it is believed that the loss of smell in coronavirus is not due to neuronal damage, but to the effect of the virus on neighboring cells, which disrupts the penetration of odorant (odorant molecules) to the neurons themselves.
Features of olfactory disorders in COVID-19:
► Impaired sense of smell in the absence of nasal congestion
Chemestisis (burning / tingling sensation in the nose)
► Impairment of taste
► Favorable prognosis
The observed parosmia (the sensation of an unpleasant odor when it is objectively absent) in COVID-19 may be the only olfactory impairment. The good news is that the appearance of an unpleasant odor after the complete absence of the sense of smell is usually a sign that the sense of smell is recovering. It may not happen quickly, but be patient. Parosmia can be triggered by trigger smells: onions, eggs, fried foods, meat, garlic, chocolate.
Taste disorder in COVID-19 is not associated with damage to the taste buds on the tongue. A significant role in the perception of taste is played by the retronasal sense of smell, when the molecules of the food we chew enter the olfactory zone. The sense of smell, when the odor comes through the nose from outside, is called ortonasal.
By the way, the areas in the brain responsible for processing the ortonasal and retronasal sense of smell are different. The retronasal sense of smell is processed in the same place where the information about taste comes in, but the message from the ortonasal sense of smell goes to the olfactory zone of the cerebral cortex.
You could say that we remember the smell of food through our mouths.
Long-term reduction in odors after COVID-19 is seen in about 12% of patients.
And, although it has not yet been proven that covid can lead to permanent loss of smell, rehabilitation is recommended for patients with olfactory impairment for more than 2 weeks.
The main, internationally recognized treatment for olfactory impairment is olfactory training. This simple method is based on the plasticity of the sense of smell (the ability of neurons of the olfactory zone to recover).
The method of olfactory training is simple. You can use any sufficiently bright and persistent smells, essential oils (for example, menthol, thyme, jasmine, mandarin, rosemary, green tea, bergamot, gardenia, rose, lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, clove). In principle, any fragrance will do. There is no evidence that essential oils are more effective than other scents. Even herbs or spices from your kitchen can be used for small workouts. The important thing is that the fragrance stays consistent for a long time.
The workout consists of alternately inhaling 4 different scents for 20 seconds each. We inhale, concentrating on the characteristics of each scent. Breathing in is not deep, you should sniff (in small light breaths) as if you were training with a scent.
You can take 4 50 ml. jars and put in each one a cotton pad soaked in 1 ml. of essential oil. Sniff twice a day.
Why is it necessary to sniff while exercising. It is not only the amount of air passing through the olfactory zone, but also the fact that the olfactory tubules work in rhythm with the rhythm of "sniffing". Since the work phases of the different groups of glomeruli do not coincide, the differentiation of different smells is more accurate.
A more reliable effect is achieved with:
► a long course of training (more than 32 weeks).