Yale neurologist: There’s a type of therapy for you if you lost your sense of smell from COVID


(WTNH) — One of the mysteries of COVID-19 is why it causes some to lose their sense of smell, and why it can be so hard for some to get that sense back. However, there is a kind of therapy you can do to help your nose.

It’s springtime, and while many are stopping to smell the flowers, some can’t. COVID-19 has taken away their sense of smell. It happened to Yale Medicine Neurologist Dr. Sharon Stoll a year ago, and she missed it.

“The flowers. Definitely the roses in the springtime,” Stoll said.

As a Neurologist at Yale, Dr. Stoll knew the issue must have something to do with the olfactory nerve. Loss of smell can also cause loss of a lot of taste, as well. That happened when West Hartford resident Allison Ghamo’s whole family got COVID.

“My daughter and I lost our taste and smell, and we were the only two that did,” said Ghamo.
What complicates things is the fact that Ghamo is the one who does the cooking for her family of six.

“Somebody who prepares any kind of food, you rely on your sense of smell to tell you when something’s burning,” Ghamo said. Her sense of taste somewhat came back. The important stuff, at least.

“I rely on my coffee. I enjoy it,” said Ghamo. “It’s one of my vices, and I had to re-learn how to drink that because it tastes totally different.”

If you really do want to enjoy the smell of your morning cup of coffee once again, there are things you can do to bring your sense of smell back. It all comes back to that olfactory nerve Dr. Stoll mentioned.

“The olfactory nerve goes right into the limbic system, and the limbic system is the part of our brain, that’s deep in our brain, that’s tied into memories,” Stoll explained.

So if the smell of pizza triggers strong memories, head to the pizzeria and think about those memories. Same thing for a favorite perfume. The memory may get the nerve working again. So could particularly strong and distinct scents.

“Smells like lavender, clove, rose petal, in high concentrations,” said Stoll. “Smelling that twice a day, every day for a number of weeks.”

Dr. Stoll’s smell came back on its own after about three months. Allison Ghamo is still trying her version of nose therapy.

“One week you do citrus. So, I did oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits. Fruits that I’ve never liked. Vegetables that I’ve never liked,” Ghamo said. After six months, she is still waiting for results. “I have not had any luck yet.”

So when you stop and smell the flowers, don’t take it for granted.

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