On his Facebook page, Yevgeny Shcherbina, an infectious disease specialist at the Mama Doctor Medical Center, described the most effective and safest way to restore the lost sense of smell with the help of essential oils.
Partial or complete loss of smell (anosmia) in the absence of a runny nose is one of the characteristic symptoms of COVID-19, which most often indicates an infection. More than 60% of patients stop smelling, and sometimes this is the only sign of the disease. According to Evgeny Shcherbina, in about 90% of cases, the ability to sense smells is restored within 2-4 weeks. At the same time, some patients complain of a long-term impairment of their sense of smell, which does not return even after three months.
“There are several ways to restore the sense of smell, which have a fairly variable level of 'evidence' and effectiveness. One of the most effective and, most importantly, safe methods is the so-called "olfactory training". The point of training is to use 4 essential oils - eucalyptus, clove, lemon and rose. The patient should inhale these oils in turn, for 20 seconds each with 10 second breaks, 2 times a day (morning and evening), ”the doctor said. He noted that it makes sense to start training the sense of smell for those who have not returned, at least after 2-4 weeks.
A similar recommendation for patients with anosmia was voiced by British researchers who found out the cause of the loss of smell against the background of COVID-19. Using computed tomography of the sinuses, scientists have seen that the olfactory cleft is blocked by soft tissue and mucus. At the same time, the sinuses look normal, so the patient does not experience breathing problems. This is due to the fact that membrane proteins of the ACE2 virus "cling" to receptors on the surface of cells of the upper respiratory tract and penetrate inside, causing an inflammatory response of the immune system.
“At first, we thought the virus could infect and destroy the olfactory neurons - the cells that signal the odor molecules in the nose to the region of the brain that recognizes them. However, as a result of international studies, it turned out that the ACE2 proteins required by the virus to enter cells were not found on olfactory neurons. But they are found in the sustentacular cells that support these neurons, ”write the authors of the article.
According to scientists, the sense of smell is normalized after the immune system copes with the virus. But if the virus causes severe inflammation, not only the supporting cells but also the olfactory neurons can be damaged. In this case, recovery can be very slow, since it takes a long time for neurons to regenerate from the stock of stem cells in the nasal mucosa.
Researchers believe that COVID-19 patients who experience this unpleasant symptom need to undergo physiotherapy sessions using various perfumes and thus "train" their nose to distinguish smells again.