03.08.2021

Folk ways to bring back the sense of smell after COVID-19

This is one of the most common ways – even in social networks, many write about how the sense of smell returned first to some kind of pungent smell.

“Pierce your nose” with a bright smell

But if for someone the harmless aroma of coffee has become harsh, others begin to smell ammonia, vinegar and even acetone or household chemicals. And this is a big mistake.

– In no case should you do this! This can lead to irreversible changes such as mucosal damage! – says the pulmonologist Natalya Esaulova. – But it is possible to speed up the process of restoring the sense of smell. There is such a technique as “olfactory training”.

You can act in two main ways: exercise in everyday situations, smelling candy, vanilla, tea, flowers, or choose three different categories of smells (for example, aroma oils) to act on different receptors and inhale them regularly. This should be done daily and consistently.

Natalya Esaulova is the head of the pulmonary department of the “New Hospital”, the head of the Center for Respiratory Rehabilitation of Patients who have undergone COVID-19, Candidate of Medical Sciences.

Rinse your nose

Here you need to make a reservation – depending on what you are going to do it. It is even beneficial to use elimination therapy – rinsing the nose with an isotonic solution of seawater. But patients, according to doctors, do not look for easy ways and are washed with solutions, decoctions and antiseptics prepared on their own according to a special recipe.

– A lot of patients who have undergone COVID-19 are beginning to try to regain their sense of smell by rinsing their nose with just everything, including aggressive antiseptics that are not intended for the nasal mucosa at all – they treat the inflammatory pathology of the pharynx. The result is a burn of the nasal mucosa. It is very easy to burn it, – says otorhinolaryngologist Ksenia Kartashova.

Ksenia Kartashova – Otorhinolaryngologist, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Surgical Dentistry, Otolaryngology and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ural State Medical University.

Use drops from the common cold

These are vasoconstrictor drops and sprays, which are usually prescribed for nasal congestion. Prolonged and uncontrolled use of these drugs can lead to the development of ricochet rhinitis, addiction of the nasal mucosa to vasoconstrictors can also cause irreversible changes that are very difficult to correct.

– In my practice, I had an example when a long-term postcoid intake of vasoconstrictor drugs led to constant nasal congestion, which lasts for more than 7 months. As a result, the patient required systemic hormone therapy, says Esaulova.

Do inhalation

There are a lot of options – someone suggests using special devices, and someone just breathes over a saucepan with a decoction of herbs or heated aromatic oils. This is a seemingly harmless idea. But no, everything is not so simple here either.

– Steam inhalations are not shown, as well as herbal ones – as a result, bronchospasm, difficulty breathing may develop. Essential oils cannot be made through some inhalers, and they also lead to bronchospasm, warns Natalya Esaulova. – There is no evidence base, effectiveness and benefits of all this, but there may be negative consequences.

Make homemade drops

What they are not made of – from aloe and beets to onions and garlic. Cosmetic and even essential oils can optionally appear in recipes. In some cases, the essential oil can be dripped and clean.

– The mucous membrane of the nasal cavity is the respiratory epithelium covered with small “cilia”. Non-standardized drops have a so-called ciliotoxic effect: roughly speaking, these “cilia” die, the epithelium becomes bald, – explains Ksenia Kartashova. – In this case, the person is deprived of natural defenses and is more likely to get sick. Standardized drops are checked to ensure that no such effect occurs. In addition, such homemade drops can lead to burns of the mucous membrane, the formation of crusts, then it will take a long time to be treated by an otorhinolaryngologist. And they do not return the sense of smell.

Chew ginger and suck on garlic

Eating, chewing, or at least sucking something sharper, with a bright taste and smell is another common folk technique. And another bad idea: not only peppers and hot sauces can cause burns to the mucous membrane, but also harmless foods such as ginger or garlic. The latter is just suggested to dissolve.

– The absorption of garlic stimulates the taste buds, but I would not recommend it, – says Kartashova. – If a person usually does not eat fresh garlic or eats it in small quantities, then it can cause an allergic reaction. As for ginger, I have had patients in whom even ordinary pickled ginger caused mucosal burns. I am not saying that it should not be eaten by anyone and under no circumstances, but you should not chew it for a long time.

And then what to do?

The recipe is still one: rinsing the nose with a special isotonic solution and olfactory training, which were already mentioned above. Making them is quite simple: take 3-4 different essential oils, put a couple of drops on napkins and smell each one. Try to remember the smells and whether they belong to lemon, fir or something else.

When you are at least a little bit distinguishing one smell from another, try stirring the samples so that you do not know where what is located, and determine what exactly this or that napkin smells like.

That is, the smell should already be familiar, but not yet memorized, so your favorite perfume will not work. In addition, perfume is a multi-component fragrance, it is too difficult for the sense of smell, so the otorhinolaryngologist recommends using essential oils. They are sold in pharmacies and some cosmetics stores.

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