Some coronavirus survivors live with invisible disabilities – Odor loss


Now, the new coronavirus has been added to this list, explains Alain Corre.

Paris, France:

“What I miss most is the smell of my son when I kiss him, the smell of my wife’s body,” says Jean-Michel Maillard.

Anosmia – the loss of smell – can be an invisible handicap, but it is psychologically difficult to live with and has no real treatment, he says.

And it is the price that more and more people are paying after surviving a rub with the coronavirus, some facing an apparent long-term disability.

“Anosmia cuts you off from the smells of life, it’s torture”, explains Maillard, president of, a French group intended to help the sick.

If you have the condition, you can no longer breathe the smell of your first coffee in the morning, smell the grass cut from a freshly mown lawn or even “the reassuring smell of soap on your skin when you are preparing for a meeting, “he said.

You only really realize your sense of smell by losing it, says Maillard, who lost his own after an accident.

And it’s not just the scent pleasures you lose. He points out that people with anosmia are unable to smell smoke from a fire, gas from a leak, or an improperly washed garbage can.

Eating is also a completely different experience, because much of what we enjoy in food is what we can smell, explains Alain Corre, ear, nose and throat specialist at the Rothschild Foundation Hospital in Paris. .

“There are dozens of causes of anosmia,” he says, including nasal polyps, chronic rhinitis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Now the new coronavirus has been added to this list, says Corre – with the symptom alone allowing a diagnosis of COVID-19 in some cases.

“When people lose their sense of smell and don’t recover it, we see a real change in quality of life and a level of depression that is not trivial,” he adds.

The problem is when the condition persists, he says.

“Being deprived of your sense of smell for a month is okay,” says Maillard. “Two months, it starts to become a problem. But after six months, you’re all alone under a bell.

“There is a psychological aspect with which it is very difficult to live,” he insists. “You have to get help.”

Finding a treatment

There is no specific treatment for the condition.

You have to tackle the cause, says Corre, but “the problem with anosmias linked to the virus is that often the treatment of viral infection has no effect on your smell.”

“According to initial figures, approximately 80% of COVID-19 patients recover spontaneously in less than a month and often even faster, in eight to 10 days.”

For others, however, the disease may have destroyed their olfactory neurons – the ones that sense odors. The good news is that these neurons in the back of the nose are able to regenerate.

Two Parisian hospitals, Rothschild and Lariboisiere, have launched a “CovidORL” study to investigate the phenomenon, testing the extent to which different nose washes can cure anosmia.

Cortisone therapy has been shown to be effective in treating post-cold anosmia and offers some hope, says Corre.

Another way to approach the condition is through olfactory rehabilitation, to try to stimulate the associations that specific smells have in your memory, he says.

His advice is to choose five scents that are dear to you that you really like: cinnamon or thyme. Breathe them twice a day for five to 10 minutes while watching what you inhale. has even set up a rehabilitation program using essential oils, in collaboration with Hirac Gurden, director of research in neuroscience at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). It is based on the work of Dresden-based researcher Thomas Hummel.

“As early as March, we received several hundred phone calls, emails from people who had COVID and who were calling for help because they no longer felt anything,” said Gurden.

Maillard meanwhile completed his rehabilitation program last winter, using four odors.

“Today I have 10,” he says, including fish, cigarettes, and rose essential oil. “I even found a perfume that I can smell!” he declares.

(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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