Covid: lost sense of smell, how to recover your sense?

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 23 March 2021 at 15h59
You have – or had – coronavirus and lost smell and taste? You want to re-educate your senses? We explain you how to get them back.

The loss of smell and taste, a characteristic symptom of coronavirus… According to a European study from the Mons university, Belgium, released in April 2020, out of 417 patients included in the study, 85,6% explained they lost their sense of smell and 88% taste. A significative symptom that required reeducation to make sure you can enjoy smell and taste again.

But how to reeducate your nose and taste buds? Taste – as in how food tastes since this is what Covid-19 patients often lose – being related to smell, should be reeducated to smell things and there are not multiple solutions: olfactive training is key to recover your lost senses. To reeducate your nose, you simply have to follow reeducation tips issued by the Société française d’oto-rhino-laryngologie et de chirurgie de la face et du cou, naming stimulating your smell several times a day with different labelled bottles you can find in supermarkets: bottles of vanilla, dill, coffee or thyme can help train your nose.

You can also try with cinnamon, cloves and mint or even cilantro. If you cannot find these spices and other herbs, you can give it a go with essential oils (lavender, orange, tea tree, and so on). You can try with vinegar on the condition it is light to make sure you do not harm your nose. Before smelling the aforementioned products, you better read the label “to let time to your sensory system to match the two information”.

Training kit by the Institute of Vine & Wine Science, another solution to recover the sense of smell

But, the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin - or Institute of Vine & Wine Science - now provides a training kit, that is initially for students but now made available to everyone. This training kit has been designed - as explained by France 3 - by Sophie Tempere who is a doctor in neurosciences and lecturer at the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin. It includes "a booklet detailing all exercises to make and there are many of them", it "also enables to track one's perceptions and evolution of perceptions on a day-by-day basis", she explains. She adds: "this kit includes fragrance diffusers. There are four fragrances you can train with every day. There are different materials: pens or electric diffusers".

This kit also suits the general public "that does not always have this kind of material, no problem, in our daily lives, we can find smells we can smell every day", she adds. She goes on: "We recommend essential oils". As for exercises, two kinds are proposed: "one with fragrances you will have to smell daily", the scientist says adding that "smelling on a daily basis [...] will have an impact physiologically, nerurophysiologically and on the cognitive level. We know there is a strong impact with a gesture as simple as smelling". The other exercise enables to train the mental olfactory imagery: "there, you don't need fragrances. You are simply given recommendations to imagine smells every day", she explains.

The association to provides free olfactive reeducation protocol for free

Another solution to recover your sense of smell, olfactive reeducation based on essential oils. In the absence of running wild in nature, letting you train without being sure you are doing it right, the association provides you with an olfactive reeducation protocol available for free on their website. For sixteen weeks, you are invited to follow a strict protocol with four essential oils to smell (geranium, clove, eucalyptus, and lemon), twice a day.

Thanks to the Covidanosmie website launched this past January, you can track your improvement in real time, the goal also being to take a clinical assessment of results reported. "When one gets anosmic, one gets aware there is no solution", association chairman Jean-Michel Maillard says, as he lost his sense of smell in an accident. He goes on: "There is a medical void, a societal void, a scientific void. This sense has been left aside. The same work has not been made for sight or hearing with all these devices people can get today to help them in their issues. As for smell, there is absolutely nothing".

Yet, if these symptoms are acute, you better consul an ENT specialist specialized in rhinology before you start any reeducation.

Practical information