In addition to fever and cough, one of the most common symptoms of the new type of corona virus (Covid-19) is loss of smell. If the sense of smell is permanently deteriorated, it can have various psychological consequences for patients. But now there is reason to hope.
At first he was unaware of anything. But after a few days, Anne-Sophie Leurquin felt that something was missing. The basil on the refrigerator seemed to have lost its freshness, just as she could not smell the coffee and lavender and rose essence soap she had drunk in the morning. All that remained was just a dull feeling of numbness. Luerguin felt, in his own words, endless tiredness after his Covid-19 test was positive in October last year. And suddenly he lost his ability to smell. Entirely. Six months after her illness, the Belgian woman summed up her feeling, “Sometimes I think I have something like depression,” to DW. After a while, Luerguin realized that although he started to smell some scents, he could not get it as before. The technical equivalent of what he’s going through is his parosmia, which is the inability to detect odors accurately.
Soon, Luerguin had to get rid of all the smelly stuff around it. The scents that he loved just a few months ago seemed strange to him now. Her boyfriend’s perfume, red lipstick, scented candles, and even her own perfume were added to the list of fragrances she had to remove from her life. The scents that were once alluring and inviting were now beginning to smell, in his own words, “like a diaper.” So much so that even after sniffing his favorite rose scented perfume, Luerguin commented: “Not bad, but still like a used diaper.”
Although the studies conducted do not reveal a definite picture of how many of those who have Covid-19 have this symptom, it is known that the loss of smell is among the most common symptoms of the disease. Researchers have not yet been able to identify the cause of this disorder. Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Dr. Caroline Huart says the virus may have affected the cells surrounding the olfactory neurons in Luerguin’s nose. Dr. Huart’s second prediction is that the virus “may have attacked the olfactory neurons directly” in order to penetrate directly into the olfactory bulb, the intermediary between the nose and the brain.
Jean-Michel Maillard, who completely lost his sense of smell after falling and hitting the back of his head five years ago, understands what Anne-Sophie Leurquin and others like him are going through. The literature corresponds to what Maillard experienced, anosmia known as the complete loss of odor loss, and his situation is slightly different than Leurquin, who perceives odors differently. Maillard says that the smells he misses the most are the scents of his sons and his wife, describing them as “all scents that make you feel alive.” Her loss of sense of smell also affected her relationship with some memories: the smell of her grandmother’s laundry room, or the memories of her father, whom she went with after she finished school… Maillard says that all these memories are “disconnected”. Maillard, formerly a passionate cook, is not willing to throw his profession aside, although he has lost his sense of smell. Since the olfactory cells also determine the sense of taste, the taste of Maillard’s meals seems to be “mild” these days. Perceiving the sweet and sour flavors better, Maillard tells that his house in Normandy filled his kitchen with lots of sugar.
After the accident, Maillard was first of all angry; because nobody could help him. After the doctor visited the doctor, his anger finally turned into sadness and then into an idea. He came across researchers who offered a glimmer of hope to the French (5 percent of the population) who, like him, had lost their sense of smell: scent education. Maillard decided to try the method and began to train his nose: Or indeed: with coffee beans, roses, lemons, and eucalyptus. After a while, he became able to perceive the small scent notes again while drinking his morning coffee. But he realized that even with this training, he could understand that a healthy person can smell far less than he can. Because of the accident, his sense of smell was too damaged to give better results.
Yet these did not stop Maillard. Despite the downsides, he founded his organization called anosmie.org three and a half years ago. Here, it helps both those who are in the same situation and those with the sense of smell to discover how important and beautiful the sense of smell is. “Most people don’t discover until they lose it,” Maillard says. However, it would not be correct to call anosmia simply not being able to smell pleasant. Due to the lack of sense of smell, people suffering from anosmia do not perceive their own body odor or smells that indicate danger, such as smoke.
Although Maillard hopes the outbreak will end soon, he is pleased that after the Covid-19 outbreak, attention has been paid to the issue of smell and taste, which he sees as a blessing for himself and others. Saying that no one was really interested in this issue in the past, or even taken it seriously, Maillard has been working on people who have lost their sense of smell due to Covid-19 at their computers every night and weekend for the past year. He tries to motivate them to give their scent education a chance.
Anne-Sophie Leurquin continues her scent training with her doctor. Research on this method, which aims to train the nose by sniffing the nose twice a day with eyes closed, says that people have shown positive results within a few months. The Leurquin brain has to relearn that the rose smells like a rose, not like a sewer or a diaper. Concentration is essential, according to his doctor Huart, because the brain needs to actually activate its olfactory memory. Another hope is to wait for the olfactory cells to renew themselves. Leurquin is afraid he will never be able to smell it again. But having at least some chance of recovery does not prevent him from hoping.