- The doctors use anesthesia to numb specific parts of the body for procedure to provide relief in the pain.
Lahore: A potential solution for individuals experiencing long-term loss of smell due to COVID-19 emerged through a numbing procedure called stellate ganglion block.
This treatment involves injecting anesthesia into specific nerves in the neck’s sympathetic nervous system.
While some doctors have expressed doubts, others have seen significant improvements in patients’ senses of taste and smell.
A survey conducted last year showed that 15% of individuals with COVID-19 suffered from ongoing smell and taste problems, and current therapies involve sniffing scents for months.
In this COVID-19 treatment, it is injected into a particular set of nerves in the sympathetic nervous system located on both sides of the neck. This system controls several essential bodily functions, such as digestion.
Although some doctors questioned the approach, others thought significant improvements as patients’ taste and smell started to return.
It is worth noting that smell disorders and anosmia are common with age and affect many individuals. The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reported that one out of every eight individuals over 40 years old in the US experiences some level of olfactory dysfunction.
A survey conducted last year established that 15% of individuals who contracted COVID-19 faced ongoing problems with smell and taste several months later. Currently, there is no established treatment for anosmia, but a therapy involving sniffing four scents (rose, eucalyptus, lemon, and clove) twice daily for at least three months showed positive results in clinical trials.
Doctors at Cleveland Clinic are offering the stellate ganglion block treatment to COVID-19 patients experiencing anosmia, with the hope of conducting clinical trials. Jennifer Henderson, a patient who received the treatment, was unable to taste or smell anything before the shot, but after it, she could smell coffee and cried tears of joy. Dr. Christina Shin, a pain management physician at the hospital, estimates that around 50% of patients treated with the procedure have their senses restored to varying degrees, with improvements ranging from 25% to 90%.
While the results have given hope to many, some doctors are still questioning the treatment’s effectiveness. Some suggest that the shot resets sympathetic nerves, while others claim it increases blood flow. Dr. Justin Turner, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, believes that there is no evidence to support its effectiveness and that it is hard to advocate for patients who typically recover naturally within six months. Dr. Zara Patel of Stanford University notes that 80% of people recover naturally within six months and that olfactory receptor neurons die off and regenerate every three to four months.