Children's Hospital Colorado study finds smell training may help COVID-19 patients recover smell

31 participants enrolled in study
Record-high 61,000 children in U.S. tested positive for COVID last week
Posted at 10:23 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 12:47:39-05

DENVER — Smell training may offer some hope for patients who lose their sense of smell after contracting COVID-19. Children’s Hospital Colorado says most of the patients who enrolled in an olfactory training study last year have seen some improvement.

Dr. Kenny Chan, chief of pediatric otolaryngology at Children's Hospital Colorado, said the majority of patients who enrolled were teenagers, and many experienced not only loss of smell, but also changes in their smell.

“They really have a visceral response to some of the familiar things that used to be pleasant and now it's offensive,” Dr. Chan said.

The 31 participants in the study “trained” by smelling four different essential oils: orange, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus, for one minute, twice a day for three months.

Dr. Chan said most of the participants who have completed that course have improved their ability to smell, though not all of them regained their pre-COVID sense of smell.

“I’m certainly not here to stay that smell training is a panacea, and that all patients or children with smell dysfunction following infection will gain that the function back to the fullest,” he said.

Children’s Hospital is still enrolling patients in the study but has seen enrollment slow as more kids get vaccinated. Dr. Chan added that the omicron variant doesn’t seem to be causing as many issues with smell and taste. Researchers plan to present their data at a national meeting in April and hope to publish the results in a scientific journal.