The olfactory neurons, placed at the bottom of our nose, have a capacity for regeneration.
The loss of sense of smell, or anosmia, one of the symptoms of the COVID-19, deprives you of the ” smells of life “, a disability is invisible, but ” psychologically difficult “, and that has no treatment of its own.
“What I miss most is the smell of my son when I embrace them, it is the smell of the body of my wife, the scent of my dad. Anosmia cup smells of life, it is a torture, “said AFP Jean-Michel Maillard, president of the association” Anosmie.org “.
Finished also the pleasures of daily life as the scent of coffee in the morning, the freshly cut lawn, or even ” the smell if reassuring the soap on his skin when preparing for an appointment “… “We discovered the smell when it loses,” says the forty-something woman, who became anosmic after an accident. Not to mention the problem of not being able to detect gas, smoke or a garbage improperly washed.
The meals are also disturbed because 90% of what we eat is linked to the sense of smell. “Differentiating a Bordeaux from a Burgundy, a difference between a beef stew, a veal Marengo, it is the sense of smell,” notes Alain Corré, ENT-Hospital-Foundation Rothschild in Paris.
“There are dozens of causes of anosmia,” says the specialist, citing the polyposes the nasal, rhinitis, chronic, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s… and now the COVID-19.
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In this case, it is even a symptom pathognomonic, that is to say, a clinical sign, which, alone, allows to establish the diagnosis.
“When people lose the sense of smell and that there is no recovery, there is a genuine alteration of the quality of life and depression rates not negligible at all,” adds Alain Corré.
The problem is when this disability sets in : “to be deprived of sense of smell for a month, this is not serious. Two months, it starts to be annoying. But at the end of 6 months, you’re all alone, under a bell glass, ” says Jean-Michel Maillard. “There is a psychological dimension very difficult to live, it is necessary to get help “.
There is no specific treatment for the disorder of the sense of smell. It is necessary to treat the cause, but “the problem of anosmies related to the virus, this is that often the treatment of viral infection has no effect on the sense of smell,” says Dr. Corré.
“According to preliminary figures, roughly 80 % of patients with the COVID-19 recover spontaneously, in less than a month and often even quickly in 8-10 days,” notes the doctor.
For others, it would seem that the olfactory neurons, which act as a sensor of odour, have been destroyed by the coronavirus. But the huge advantage that nature has given us, is that these neurons are placed at the bottom of our nose, have a capacity for regeneration.
The parisian hospitals Rothschild and Lariboisière have implemented a study “CovidORL” and test the effectiveness of the washing of the nose with cortisone (budesonide), associated with the rehabilitation of the smell. A treatment that has proven its effectiveness on the anosmies post-cold, ” hope “, for alan Corré.
The rehabilitation of the smell so you can continue to stimulate the cognitive, the associative pathways that combine the memory and the sense of smell, develops the ENT.
His advice : choose five odors in your kitchen — that you like — like cinnamon, thyme, bay leaf… Breathe-two times per day for 5 to 10 minutes, watching what you are breathing.
With Hirac Gurden, director of neuroscience research at the CNRS, the association “Anosmie.org” also has made available on its website a protocol of rehabilitation with essential oils diluted, based on the work of the researcher Thomas Hummel (Dresden).
“Since march, we have received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails from people who had the COVID and calling for a rescue because they didn’t feel nothing “, remembers Hirac Gurden.
Last winter, Jean-Michel Maillard has finished the rehabilitation with the four odours. “Today, I have ten : fish, cigarette, essential oil of rose… and I even found a fragrance that I feel ! “says it.