The latest data, alas, are disappointing – according to the results of work recently published in Nature, 30 days after discharge, patients with coronavirus infection had an increased risk of developing arrhythmias, tachycardia, diabetes, depression, muscle weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and a number of other diseases. Moreover, the mortality rate of those who had covid disease was 1.46-1.73 times higher.
Another characteristic feature of the postponed coronavirus is anosmia – the loss of the ability to smell. Sometimes anosmia can manifest itself in part or in the form of odor distortion. Despite the fact that anosmia can hardly be compared with cardiovascular and other diseases that develop after COVID-19, this condition significantly impairs the quality of life. Just imagine what it would be like not to smell a spring thunderstorm and morning coffee, or vice versa, instead of smelling your favorite people, to smell rotting meat. Fortunately, scientists have made significant advances in the treatment of postcoid anosmia and recently reported the discovery of a cure.
Consequences of COVID-19
Believe it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic is gaining momentum around the world. The available vaccines, as experts have repeatedly noted, have spread mainly in developed countries, while residents of developing countries (including India) do not have access to vaccines. Moreover, as a result of the spread of the new COVID-19 strain in India, the country’s hospitals are overcrowded – and all this is happening against the backdrop of an acute shortage of drugs.
Meanwhile, the consequences of the transferred covid are truly frightening. At the end of April, the scientific journal Nature published an article, the authors of which took a sample of 73,435 people who suffered from covid, but were not hospitalized and managed to live after the diagnosis for at least 30 days. For comparison, the control group included 4,990,835 people who did not have covid and who were not hospitalized.
The results were disappointing – mortality among patients who underwent SARS-CoV-2 was 1.46-1.73 times higher; the risk of developing diabetes, depression, cardiovascular and a number of other diseases was also increased.
Biologist Alexander Panchin, citing a study, the authors also compared COVID-19 survivors with those who had the flu:
“And again, in addition to the increased risk of death in those who had covid, there was an increased risk of a number of serious diseases: the risk of kidney and heart failure, as well as diseases associated with blood clotting disorders, increased by about one and a half times; acute hemorrhagic disease of the cerebral vessels and respiratory arrest were almost twice as common; the risk of acute pulmonary thromboembolism and encephalitis was three times higher; the risk of myopathies was five times higher. And this, alas, is not a complete list of problems.”
Anosmia after COVID-19
Among the serious health problems after undergoing covid, described above, there are others, less serious. Among them – anosmia, loss of the ability to smell. But despite its seeming harmlessness, loss of smell or its distortion (it is also common among patients who have undergone coronavirus a symptom), anosmia can significantly worsen the quality of life.
Recently, scientists have suggested that such patients try to retrain their nose to learn how to sniff out certain odors. As the researchers note, it will take time, perhaps months, but if “you try to inhale at least four different scents twice a day, it can help you recover faster and more completely without any unwanted side effects.”
This recommendation is based on a systematic, evidence-based review. The review authors concluded that corticosteroids should not be the first treatment option for odor loss due to COVID-19. Corticosteroids are usually prescribed for those with a stuffy or inflamed nose, but in the case of postcoid anosmia, they don’t seem to work.
On the other hand, learning to smell is a more scientifically sound way to regain the ability to smell after a viral infection. “As a group of experts, we strongly emphasize the initial consideration of scent training,” the researchers write. “Scent training has no known side effects and is inexpensive. Moreover, it is the only treatment available … backed by a solid evidence base.”
It should be noted, however, that comparing steroids and odor training methods for treating olfactory dysfunction after COVID-19 is somewhat inappropriate as no controlled studies have been conducted. However, the idea of odor training has been around for some time and has been used with great success to treat odor loss from other infections.
As the Sciencealert writes, in the case of postcoid anosmia, scientists may need to implement this practice on an unprecedented scale. About 60% of those infected with COVID-19 have experienced impaired sense of smell, while about 10% have persistent symptoms that last for weeks or even months. Fortunately, most people do seem to get better, and scent training may have something to do with that.
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So, in early 2021, a study of 1,363 coronavirus patients with olfactory dysfunction showed that 95% of patients regained their sense of smell after six months. Corticosteroids have also been considered as a treatment option, but this medication is not harmless. Many unwanted side effects can come with this treatment, including fluid retention, high blood pressure, and mood swings.
Overall, based on the available data, the authors join numerous other experts in calling for caution. Until randomized, placebo-controlled trials are conducted, treatment should begin with olfactory training, not steroids.
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