- Some people with long COVID report lasting alterations to their sense of taste and smell.
- A new treatment could help these people regain their senses and regain their quality of life.
- Experts say that while the treatment is largely successful, not all patients will respond to it.
A new treatment could restore normal smell and taste in people with long COVID who have not responded to other therapies, a new study suggests.
Alterations or outright loss of taste and smell are common symptoms of COVID-19, affecting approximately half of all those who contract the new coronavirus. Most of the time, these symptoms
In these people, even if the disease is not life-threatening, experts say their quality of life suffers.
“Post-COVID parosmia is common and increasingly recognized” Dr Adam Zoga, study author and professor of musculoskeletal radiology at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said in a press release. “Patients may develop a distaste for foods and drinks they previously enjoyed.”
In the new research, presented at annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, doctors targeted a group of nerves in the neck called the stellate ganglion.
Treatment involves administering a block to the stellate ganglion – aptly called a
It is a technique that has been used to attempt to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cluster headaches and some rare diseases, but this is the first time it has been used to try to treat prolonged COVID symptoms in a study.
The study included a group of 54 people resistant to pharmaceutical and other traditional medical treatments for parosmia.
Among them, researchers followed 37 participants, 22 of whom reported improvement in their symptoms one week after treatment. Additionally, most of these participants reported significant further improvement one month after treatment.
Three months later, researchers reported an average improvement of 49% in these symptoms within the group. Additionally, 86% of this same group that responded to the first injection showed further improvements after a second injection administered to the other side of the neck after six weeks.
However, those who did not respond to the first round of injections also did not respond to the second. This means that it is not a panacea.
These results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Although the research is preliminary, experts say the road ahead is promising.
“The initial feedback is very promising,” said Dr. Nathan Goodyearintegrative medicine practitioner and medical director of Brio-Medical who did not participate in the study.
“Post-COVID olfactory dysfunction is one of the most persistent long-term symptoms associated with reduced quality of life scores post-COVID,” Goodyear said. Medical news today. “For the 15 percent of persistent olfactory dysfunction present in one-year-old patients, minimally invasive therapy, which provides a rapid response rate in four weeks, allows for early intervention.”
That said, as the research itself indicates, there are limitations to this approach, Goodyear noted. One of the problems is that not everyone has even a stellate ganglion that doctors can block.
“The stellate ganglion is found in
For Zoga, however, the math is simple.
“Other treatments have failed so far,” he said in the statement. “This injection works.”
Managing the long COVID and the constellation of symptoms What sets it apart isn’t simple, but experts say there are steps you can take to help.
In addition to standard healthy living tips, such as trying to get quality sleep, limiting alcohol and tobacco use, and getting as much rest and relaxation as possible, finding a support network of other people people with long COVID can be a godsend in coping with this new and difficult condition.
There is also research indicating some healthy diets that help reduce inflammation could help decrease or shorten the duration of long COVID.
“Inflammation, whether olfactory dysfunction or other long-lasting symptoms of COVID, is at the heart of causation,” Goodyear said. “So if there’s a common thread between the symptoms associated with long COVID, it’s inflammation.”