One commonly reported symptom of COVID-19 is the loss of taste. And with the pandemic leaving us with not much else to enjoy aside from food and Netflix, that’s a tough thing to go without.
However, data from a new study published in the journal The Laryngoscopefound that “smell training” may help.
What is smell training?
Data from 153 patients who had lost their smell after an illness (also known as post‐infectious olfactory dysfunction, or PIOD) was analyzed in the study above.
In the experiment, patients were given smell kits filled with various scents, from sweet aromas like honey and strawberries to floral scents like roses, fresh scents like eucalyptus, and herbs like thyme.
The result? Significant improvements in the patients who used smell training were recorded, showing they had success distinguishing scents from one another.
How does it work?
While smell training is still not fully understood, one theory is that by repeatedly exposing the nose to new scents of different varieties, the process helps to stimulate and improve the olfactory epithelium’s capacity – which is responsible for our sense of smell.
It’s also known that the olfactory nerve, which transmits information to our brain from our nose’s scent receptors, has the ability to regenerate. The process of smelling new scents regularly is thought to aid in that process as well.
Another component to smell training involves thinking about how that scent smells as you smell it – even if you’re unable to detect it at the start of your smell training. This may help reestablish that connection between the scent and how our brain reacts to it.
How to try it at home
To replicate the study at home, experts recommend smell training twice daily. Spend around 30 seconds on each smell, breathing it in while thinking of how that scent smells.
Though the study involved many more scents, using four different scents that include aromatic, fruity and floral varieties are enough to help.
The process of smell training can take a while before it produces any results. Research shows that repeating the process for 12-56 weeks may be necessary to notice any significant difference in smell or taste capability.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the study was not conducted with COVID-19 patients specifically. So, while the research is promising, there’s no way to know for sure if this method will help all COVID-19 patients who have not regained their sense of taste get it back.
But if you’ve had COVID-19 and still can’t taste anything, it’s probably worth a try. To get started, sites like Abscent.com offer various tools and products that make smell training easy to start and follow.