Scientists find new way to restore sense of smell in people with long COVID

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Parosmia, a condition where people experience a distorted sense of smell, has emerged as a common symptom in COVID-19 patients, with up to 60% affected.

For some, especially those with long-COVID, this issue persists for months or even years, significantly impacting their daily life and enjoyment of food.

Researchers, including lead author Dr. Adam C. Zoga from Jefferson Health, are recognizing the growing need to address this problem.

A Minimally Invasive Solution

Researchers have explored a potential treatment involving CT-guided stellate ganglion block. The stellate ganglia, located in the neck, play a key role in the autonomic nervous system, influencing various involuntary bodily functions.

The procedure involves injecting an anesthetic directly into one of these ganglia to stimulate the nervous system.

This quick, minimally invasive technique, typically used for conditions like headaches and phantom limb pain, is now being tested for its effectiveness in treating post-COVID parosmia.

In a study involving 54 patients with long-term post-COVID parosmia, researchers used CT imaging to accurately inject the anesthetic, combined with a small dose of corticosteroid to address potential nerve inflammation caused by the virus.

The initial results were encouraging, with the first patient experiencing significant symptom improvement within four weeks.

Follow-up data from 37 patients showed that 59% reported improved symptoms a week after the injection, and 82% of these patients noted further improvement after a month.

A second injection on the opposite side of the neck led to additional benefits for those who responded positively to the first treatment.

This new approach to treating parosmia offers a ray of hope for those struggling with this condition.

The trial found a significant improvement in symptoms, including the near-complete resolution of phantosmia (smelling odors that aren’t present) for some patients.

Importantly, no complications or adverse events were reported, highlighting the safety and potential effectiveness of this innovative treatment.

A Step Forward for Long-COVID Care

As the medical community continues to grapple with the long-term effects of COVID-19, this study represents a significant advancement in treating one of its more elusive symptoms.

With other treatments showing limited success, the stellate ganglion block injection emerges as a promising solution, offering new hope for improved quality of life for long-COVID patients.

If you care about long COVID, please read studies about Scientists find link between short sleep and higher risk of long COVID and findings of Scientists find links between COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about new way to halt excessive inflammation, and results showing foods that could cause inflammation.

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