It is now well known that COVID-19 can cause anosmia (lack of sense of smell), which in some cases can last for several weeks. A doctor has just launched a free web application to help affected patients regain their sense of smell, thanks to simple training that takes place over a period of about fifteen weeks.
The sense of smell, a COVID-19 victim
Many patients with Covid-19 experience a loss of taste (ageusia) and/or smell (anosmia). Recent studies on this topic have shown that the mechanism involved is not the same as in the common cold, because, in the case of Covid-19, many anosmic patients have perfectly clear noses. In fact, the infection causes inflammation in the area surrounding the olfactory neurons, making them inaccessible to the odor molecules and even damaging them in the end. This would also explain why the anosmia sometimes lasts longer than Covid-19 itself, on the order of several weeks.
Once the virus is eliminated, the body still has to replace the olfactory neurons damaged during the infection with new ones generated from a supply of stem cells. Although anosmia is benign and almost always reversible, it can still affect the quality of life, affecting the way we eat and even our social relationships. Since January 12, people affected by this persistent anosmia induced by COVID-19 can use the free web application “Covidanosmie,” provided by the French company Kelindi.
Olfactory re-education, a technique that has proven its worth
The application was developed by Professor Fabrice Denis, a Le Mans-based physician specializing in e-health and AI and co-founder of the company Kelindi, in collaboration with the European Anosmic Association. The goal is to accelerate olfactory recovery through personalized training and monitoring of olfactory dysfunction. “This persistent anosmia is expected to affect more than one million people in France. It can be a total or partial loss of the sense of smell, but also the fact of smelling bad smells, even when smelling a rose,” explains the French doctor. Indeed, the website indicates that this symptom generally lasts about ten days, but in 10 to 15% of cases it can last several months.
Its principle is based on olfactory re-education, “a technique validated since 2014 in post-infectious anosmia and recommended by scientific societies to accelerate recovery with an improvement of almost 63%,” according to Fabrice Denis. The efficacy in improving olfactory dysfunction associated with COVID-19 is currently under investigation, but this technique is recommended to accelerate recovery because it is cheap and has no significant known toxicity. The protocol, validated by the ENT Department of the University Hospital of Tours, is based on the inhalation of four specific essential oils in high concentrations twice a day for a maximum of 16 weeks. Which are. Clove, eucalyptus, lemon, and rose geranium, which can be easily obtained from pharmacies or online.
The application used in a clinical study
The patient is first asked to create a personal profile in the web application using a questionnaire and then practice the training twice a week with personalized training in two sessions per day, morning, and afternoon. In addition to displaying results weekly, Kelindi states that an evaluation of data from users who agree to participate in a non-nominal clinical trial will be conducted. It will look for the rate and speed of recovery of the sense of smell after a COVID-19 infection.
It should be noted that “Covidanosmie” is not indicated in taste disorders without olfactory dysfunction. It will be offered primarily to French patients before internationalization is planned for the German and English-speaking markets. People who are currently experiencing a decline in their sense of smell, particularly in relation to Covid-19, may also help the French researchers advance their work. Indeed, the Lyon France Neuroscience Research Center has launched a website where it invites the public to participate in a questionnaire to better understand the interactions between the quality of life and olfactory disorders, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic.