Roanoke ENT helps COVID-19 patients regain sense of smell through training

Roanoke ENT helps COVID-19 patients regain sense of smell through training
Greg Zachmann, an ear, nose and throat specialist, is using smell training to help former COVID-19 patients. (Source: WDBJ)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Some people who have lost their taste and smell from the coronavirus still haven’t gotten those senses back. But a Roanoke ear, nose and throat doctor at the Jefferson Surgical Center is helping by providing smell training.

“It was shocking. I woke up in the morning and was fixing a cup of coffee and realized I couldn’t taste it, couldn’t smell it brewing,” Troutville resident Laura Boyd said.

Boyd recognized the loss of taste and smell as COVID-19 symptoms, so she got tested for the virus, and it came back positive. That was five weeks ago, but Boyd’s taste and smell still haven’t returned.

“Is it going to return? Just kind of scary not being able to smell food cooking, smell it burning, just day-to-day life changed dramatically,” Boyd explained.

This is where Boyd’s Doctor, Greg Zachmann, comes in.

“I mentioned to him on our last appointment that I had had COVID, and since he is an ear, nose and throat specialist, I just let him know I was going on five weeks with no taste and smell,” Boyd said.

Zachmann suggested smell training as a way to help get her smell back. He started this kind of therapy a few months ago, as more people started getting COVID and losing their smell.

“Part of the therapy would simply be getting a jar, this one has essential oils at the bottom that can fill the air in the jar with the smell, and just take a few gentle sniffs, and again, letting that experience, trying to think about it, trying to recognize it, and seeing if you get that connection,” Zachmann said.

Boyd, along with a handful of other patients going through smell training with Zachmann, are keeping a log “of how they’re doing at home, and week to week, can see some improvements over time as their sense of smell hopefully recovers,” Zachmann said.

Boyd is staying optimistic that her smell will one day return.

“I know that with time and focused training hopefully it will do some good,” she said.

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