Treatments for Loss of Smell in COVID-19 Patients
Background on Loss of Smell (anosmia) from COVID-19
Anosmia is the complete loss of smell and is one of the most common side effects from COVID-19. Hyposmia is the partial loss of smell and is another possible result of COVID-19 side effects. The exact cause remains unknown, but it is believed to be caused by the inflammation in the nose caused by the virus. There are a few treatments that are being used for loss of smell but are not yet approved. Intranasal corticosteroids are being used to help reduce the inflammation in the nose and have shown to help the sense of smell return at a faster rate.
Frequently asked questions
Does everyone with COVID-19 lose their sense of smell?
Not every patient loses their sense of smell, but it has been seen that up to 80% of patients with COVID-19 lose their sense of smell
How long does the loss of smell last?
It is different for every patient. A study found that only 15% of COVID-19 patients experience a loss of smell for more than 60 days and less than 5% experienced it for longer than six months.1
What medication treatment options are there?
Intranasal corticosteroids have been shown to help improve sense of smell but have not been officially approved by the FDA yet. These medications include fluticasone, mometasone, theophylline, and budesonide.
Are there non-medication treatment options?
Yes, it has been shown that “olfactory training” for at least 12 weeks can be helpful in stimulating the return of your sense of smell. Patients are instructed to deeply inhale for 15-20 seconds different scents such as flowers (roses), fruits (lemon), aromatic (cloves or lavender), and resinous (eucalyptus). Then they are to repeat this process 2-3 times each day. This is an easy self-treatment option that will not have any side effects and has shown to help improve patients’ sense of smell at 3, 6, and 12 months following COVID-19.
Bschwartz. (2021, March 16). Treating smell loss in COVID-19 patients. Consult QD. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/treating-smell-loss-in-covid-19-patients/
Singh CV, Jain S, Parveen S. The outcome of fluticasone nasal spray on anosmia and triamcinolone oral paste in dysgeusia in COVID-19 patients. Am J Otolaryngol. 2021 May-Jun;42(3):102892. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102892. Epub 2021 Jan 16. PMID: 33493729; PMCID: PMC7972940.
Renaud M, Thibault C, Le Normand F, et al. Clinical Outcomes for Patients With Anosmia 1 Year After COVID-19 Diagnosis. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(6):e2115352.
- Lafreniere D. Taste and olfactory disorders in adults: Evaluation and management. UpToDate. UpToDate, Inc.; 2021. Updated August 5, 2019. Accessed January 30,