When your senses are stolen!

It is known that humans are somewhat unaware or indifferent to their sense of smell. For instance, if I ask you if the sense of smell is better or slightly worse than it was yesterday. You are unlikely to notice any difference as our sense of smell fits in with the phrase we all know — Not noticing how important it is until you lose it!
Of course during coronavirus pandemic, many questions have been circulated and asked as people have concerns about their loss of taste and sense of smell. Perhaps a number of patients who were infected with COVID-19 have experienced these symptoms and are still asking whether these senses will return to normal and when?
The loss of taste and sense of smell are among the most common symptoms of COVID-19, which are at least 20 times more likely to predict a positive test for coronavirus than symptoms like fever and cough.
The weak sense of smell or losing it (anosmia) is an invisible obstacle and it is psychologically difficult for people to live with, which is the price that people pay after surviving the coronavirus, where some people may face a long term inability to smell or even losing the sense itself and sadly this represents 10 per cent of the cases.
Studies are still going on about coronavirus and how it adheres to cells via a specific enzyme, as an entry point in the human body, making the cells that contain this enzyme the most vulnerable. Not to mention that, the people who recover more quickly from the coronavirus, here the virus may have affected only the cells lining their noses, while people who recovered more slowly, the virus may have affected the nerves related with the sense of smell, hence these neurons take a longer time to repair and regenerate.
In spite of what has been mentioned and many ongoing research, I am optimistic with the latest study that confirmed, that the permanent loss of smell does not always appear, because the sensory neurons responsible for detecting the scent and sending it to the brain are not exposed to the coronavirus and instead the cells that provide support for neurons are infiltrated by the virus and led to a temporary loss of smell or anosmia.
It is really hard to know who will regain their sense of smell and who will not. The only thing I can say is that if the patient starts for instance, during the period following his improvement from coronavirus in the same year noticing some betterment, this will be a good and promising sign.
Certainly, I do not think that anyone can appreciate the suffering of these patients, because the loss of smell here means changing the relationships of the survivors of coronavirus with the people, the food and the environment around them, which definitely will complicate the path of their recovery and may reach the stage of depression and isolation. So, if you could imagine with me how some people might lose interest in preparing food, as they had a weak smell or lost it permanently or that mother who could not smell her infant scent or not discover the danger when it occurs like a gas leak or a fire at home.
There are certain diseases that may lead to loss of smell (anosmia), from simple cold and allergy that cause weak or temporary loss of smell, to serious conditions that affect the brain or nerves which ends up with a permanent loss of smell.
The temporary loss of smell after coronavirus infection and its illness, may not need specific treatment with the improvement of the sense. But when such weakness or loss of the sense persists beyond two weeks, it may be reasonable to consider treatment. Here it is good to be aware that the effectiveness of the treatments currently for patients with loss of smell caused by coronavirus are unknown to date.
Undoubtedly, starting training for the sense of smell may be appropriate, as it does not have side effects and not expensive. It is repeated with a number of smells such as lemon, rose or clove for a period of at least three months, besides other additional treatment that are recommended by a specialist in such cases, knowing that such defect in the sense of smell may indirectly cause problems with the taste as they are related.
Training the sense of smell is a marathon rather than a race in trying to improve it. People who practice smell training have better results than those who do nothing and of course it is not guaranteed to restore the sense. However, temporary or permanent loss of smell due to coronavirus appears as a strange phenomenon, but it may be devastating for some people who continue to have such loss, ending sometimes with a serious psychological result. So, do not pay the price for ignoring health instructions and fall prey to the coronavirus and its health complications.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: dryusufalmulla@gmail.com