Although the spread of the corona virus has subsided, many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of 'olfactory disorder'.  The photo shows Kim Min-hee, a professor at the Department of Oriental Otolaryngology and Throat Dermatology, Gangdong Kyunghee University Hospital.  (Provided by Kyunghee University Gangdong Hospital)
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The post-corona era has arrived… Still painful ‘olfactory disorder’

Although the spread of the corona virus has subsided, many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of ‘olfactory disorder’. The photo shows Kim Min-hee, a professor at the Department of Oriental Otolaryngology and Throat Dermatology, Gangdong Kyunghee University Hospital. (Provided by Kyunghee University Gangdong Hospital)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has fallen to 50,000 per day. Now you can freely walk outdoors without wearing a mask. Now is the era of the ‘post-corona’. However, there are still many people suffering from the aftermath of the corona virus. Among them, the most common symptom is ‘olfactory disturbance’.

Smell disorder is a condition in which the sense of smell is dull or completely absent. The main cause of olfactory disorder is ‘upper respiratory tract infection’ including the common cold. The reason why the number of patients with olfactory disorder has recently skyrocketed around the world is also related to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many different types of olfactory disorders. Representative examples include ‘loss of smell’, which is a partial loss of sense of smell, ‘loss of smell’, which is a complete loss of smell, and ‘smell of smell’, where odors are perceived as different odors.

It is also classified according to the cause of the olfactory disorder. It is divided into two types: ‘conductive olfactory disorder’ caused by the failure to transmit odors, and ‘sensoreous olfactory disorder’ caused by abnormalities in the olfactory mucosa or the olfactory nervous system. If the nose is blocked due to rhinitis or a cold, it is conductive. Conductive olfactory disorder improves spontaneously when the underlying disease is treated. On the other hand, it is highly likely that sensorineural olfactory disorder is not able to smell even after the cold is over. In this case, sequelae are often left, and treatment is required.

The olfactory disorder caused by COVID-19 infection is sensorineural. It occurs when a virus damages olfactory receptor cells. The problem is that olfactory disorders are much more common than the common cold. According to a study in Nature, sequelae appeared in 61% of all patients six months after infection, and 25% of them had smell and taste disorders.

Olfactory impairment significantly reduces the quality of life. Especially when it comes to food intake. The part that we perceive as ‘taste’ is actually more determined by the sense of smell than the sense of taste. As the sense of smell is lost, food becomes markedly tasteless. Persistent olfactory impairment increases the risk of depression and dementia.

Smell disorders often resolve spontaneously within a year. However, it is highly likely that the olfactory impairment that remains after one year will continue in the future. If symptoms do not improve for more than a month, it is recommended to start treatment.

Kim Min-hee, a professor at the Department of Oriental Otolaryngology at Kyunghee University Hospital in Gangdong, Korea, said, “In the treatment of olfactory disorders, oral and nasal steroids, vitamins, and zinc are often used. In recent years, herbal treatment has been widely practiced and many supporting papers have been published. There is also an international study showing that the acupuncture treatment group improved the sense of smell compared to the non-acupuncture treatment group in patients with olfactory disorders, and among patients who did not respond to steroid treatment, there was also a study result showing that the symptoms improved after oriental medicine treatment, especially in the olfactory disorder that occurred after a cold.” did.

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