BBC Breakfast: Claire Hopkins discusses loss of smell
Around two million people in the UK are thought to be living with long Covid, an exhausting condition that can make everyday life difficult.
It is defined as symptoms that start within three months of a Covid infection and linger for at least two months.
These symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell.
While there is currently no cure for long Covid there are methods that can help ease symptoms.
And now scientists have discovered a way to restore smell among patients with long Covid.
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A new 10 minute treatment may be able to cure the loss of smell, known as parosmia, a symptom that can last for months and even years.
This lack of smell can negatively impact their appetite for food and their overall quality of life.
Lead author, Professor Adam Zoga, explained: “Post-Covid parosmia is common and increasingly recognised.
“Patients can develop a distaste for foods and drinks they used to enjoy.
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“Parosmia has previously been reported as a rare disorder occurring after brain trauma, brain surgery, stroke, viral syndromes, and with some head and neck tumours.”
The treatment involves injecting anaesthetic directly into a group of nerves on one side of the neck to stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which is accurately achieved with CT guidance.
The minimally invasive procedure takes less than 10 minutes, and no sedation is necessary.
This method has previously been used to treat several other conditions including cluster headaches, phantom limb pain, Raynaud’s and Meniere’s syndromes, angina and cardiac arrhythmia.
In this case, researchers also added a small dose of corticosteroid to the anaesthetic suspecting that the Covid virus may be causing nerve inflammation.
For the study, which is due to be presented at an annual Radiology Society of North America meeting, 37 patients with parosmia were given the injection.
Of these, 22 reported improved symptoms at one week post-injection.
And 18 reported significant progressive improvement by one month post-procedure.
No complications or adverse events were reported.
Prof Zoga added: “The initial patient had a tremendously positive outcome, almost immediately, with continued improvement to the point of symptom resolution at four weeks.
“We have been surprised at some outcomes, including near 100 percent resolution of phantosmia, a condition that causes people to detect smells that aren’t there, in some patients, throughout the trial.
“Other treatments have failed to date, this injection is working.”
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