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Smell therapy being researched for coronavirus patients

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Loss of taste and smell is the among the most common side effect for coronavirus sufferers. Some people don't get their senses back for months.

Happening now, there is research being done to determine if "smell-training" can help. Local doctors say it is too early to tell if this type of therapy could work.

Smell training or smell therapy is the theory that sniffing strong scents could help re-train the body. In one study, recruiting participants right now, the patients will choose four scents and sniff them for 10 seconds, twice daily for 12 weeks.

Similar studies have been done for other illnesses and instances that can cause a loss of taste and smell. While it is too early to tell if it could work for Covid patients, some local doctors say it can't hurt.

“As far as smell therapy, it is a long term kind of commitment and I just don’t the full results the study to warrant whether I approve of it or not,” said Otolaryngology Specialist, Dr. Mahar Abu-Hamdan.

Abu-Hamden is an Ear Nose and Throat specialist in St. Joseph County. He says he has patients that still haven't recovered their taste and smell after several months. Loss of these senses are among the most common side effects of Covid.

Abu-Hamdan says people can do smell therapy at home. He says people should use strong scents, like essential oils. And he cautions people not to ingest anything.

“Just with a lot of things where I don’t know the answer, if it doesn’t hurt you can try it. But I would be cautiously optimistic that it would help,” said Abu-Hamdan.

Abu-Hamden recommends seeing a doctor if the senses have been gone for an extended period of time. Abu-Hamdan 90% of patients get smell and taste back within six months.

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“There is work on the way to find out the best protocol to see if we can get recovery from this 10 percent that don’t get recover,” said Abu-Hamdan.

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