the British Medical Journal publishes Thursday, July 28 the results of a compilation of 18 international studies, involving 3,700 patients. The researchers modeled how patients who have lost their sense of smell or taste recover – or not – their sensitivity. For 5% of them, these two senses are permanently disturbed.
Two types of smell disorders affect patients with Covid-19: loss of smell and parosmia, that is to say the modification of certain smells. According to the study of British Medical Journal, a quarter of patients (25%) recover taste or smell 30 days after infection. More than half regained normal sensations after three months. Six months after infection, this recovery stagnates. Two years after having Covid-19, 5% of patients, those in the first wave of the epidemic, have a persistent loss of smell.
According to Jérôme Lechien, ENT and professor at the University of Mons in Belgium, the follow-up of these patients has made it possible to make a discovery about their ability to regain their sense of smell. “We always said that what remained lost after two years would never be found”he explains, “but we are starting to question it because we have counter-examples.”
“We see patients who lost their sense of smell two years ago and are beginning to regain it now.”Jérôme Lechien, ENT, professor at the University of Mons (Belgium)
Another lesson: smell disorders affect women more than men, because women have “a better inflammatory response”according to Professor Jérôme Lechien.
At the University of Mons, an experimental treatment was addressed to a hundred patients, based on plasma rich in platelets. Saccording to the teacher Jérôme Lechien, this treatment, injected under local anesthesia in the nose, “seems to ‘boost’ recovery in 80% of people.”
Pending the generalization of this treatment, it is rehabilitation that allows you to regain your ability to smell and taste. However, according to the conclusions of the study, health systems are not sufficiently prepared. Patients are poorly cared for. Rehabilitation sessions and smell tests, for example, are not reimbursed.
“As ENT specialists, very few of us are specifically trained in smell. We therefore find ourselves faced with patients with poor scientific knowledge of the phenomenon.”Jérôme Lechien, ENT, professor at the University of Mons (Belgium)
All this also leads to a lack of patient awareness of the treatments available to regain their sense of smell.
The teacher Jérôme Lechien believes that it is impossible to tell a patient that he will never regain his sense of smell. “We do not yet have enough perspective to affirm it”he assures.