Lincoln doctor helping patients get their sense of smell back post COVID-19

Dr. Aaron Robinson demonstrates smell training using essential oils.
Dr. Aaron Robinson demonstrates smell training using essential oils.(KOLN)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A common side effect of COVID-19, losing your sense of smell and taste, is one of the symptoms doctors are finding sticks around long after patients test negative for the virus.

But there is hope. A Lincoln doctor has a treatment plan that’s helped his patients and it’s something you can do at home.

“It’s basically physical therapy for your nose,” Dr. Aaron Robinson, with CHI Health said. “Just like if you hurt your knee or ankle you’d go to therapy to do exercises to strengthen your muscles.”

Robinson said it’s not entirely clear why COVID-19 causes loss of sense of smell, but he said its likely because viruses, like the coronavirus, can damage nerves and COVID-19 enters and lives inside the nose.

A study of more than 1,300 COVID-19 patients found that 86% of them lost their sense of smell, more than half of those people had mild cases of the virus.

Robinson said he’s been seeing those patients here in Lincoln.

“It’s devastating,” Robinson said. “People have a really hard time.”

But Robinson has been doing research and found studies on smell re-training using essential oils.

“When we do the re-training we’re stimulating the nerves and re-teaching them how to connect with the brain and identify the smells,” Robinson said.

To do the training, Robinson recommends patients purchase four essential oils; clove, eucalyptus, rose and lemon. Take the oils one at a time and put them on a cotton ball then breathe in the scent.

“Focus for about 30 seconds and take deep breaths and just think about the scent,” Robinson said. “Really think about what it is. If the scent is eucalyptus I’m going to think about a koala bear eating a eucalyptus leaf and really meditate and get myself into the right mind-space to make those brain connections.”

He said to repeat this three times a day for three to four weeks.

Robinson said this treatment isn’t new, though it’s been brought to the forefront recently and it is helping his patients.

“I’ve had about 10-15 patients who have used it,” Robinson said. “Most of them have really enjoyed having something to do and have seen improvement.”

Robinson said there is no guarantee it will work, but studies show it will help you gain your sense of smell back faster. Though you may not get the exact same sense of smell you had before.

He also said as long as you’ve ruled out other possible reasons you could have lost your sense of smell you don’t need to see a doctor to do the training. You can also use any brand of essential oils, or another strong scented item if you choose.

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