Two years ago, around the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, John Doe caught the virus. However, after he had recovered from the disease, Doe was still unable to smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia). All of a sudden, even his favorite foods tasted like cardboard, and he could only distinguish them by texture. Though this was troubling for Doe, as it would be for anyone, he initially thought his senses would return on their own given enough time. Unfortunately, though, that wasn’t the case.
Doe said a wake-up call for him was when his smoke alarm started to go off while he was cooking, and he was unable to smell it. It is still not entirely understood why COVID-19 often causes the loss of these senses or why it is sometimes permanent. One theory researchers have is that the virus doesn’t directly damage nerves but instead attacks the cells that support them.
When Doe eventually decided to look for treatment, he had significant difficulty finding someone who could help. He first visited his primary care physician, but they had no treatment options available. He was then directed to an ENT specialist, which is a doctor who specializes in dealing with diseases in the ear, nose, and throat. However, even the specialist had no solution for Doe’s predicament, so he started to do his own investigating online. During his research, Doe came across a post by a Texas couple with symptoms nearly identical to his own who described receiving something called a ‘stellate ganglion block’. A stellate ganglion block is a treatment commonly used for PTSD as well as different types of pain. It involves preventing the stellate ganglion, a bundle of nerves located near the front of the neck, from sending pain signals to the brain by injecting anesthetic medication into the site. The couple claimed that the treatment helped them greatly and was very effective in restoring their senses. Doe was wary of the fact that it would involve an injection near the spine, but due to how promising it seemed, he decided to undergo the procedure here at Genesis Pain Clinic.
Before the treatment began, a test was performed in which Doe tried to smell apple cider. Despite the strong scent, he could not smell anything. However, later at night, when the anesthesia had worn off, Doe said he woke up and tried a KitKat bar. And, to his surprise, for the first time in months, he could taste some of his favorite foods! When the apple cider test was performed again, the scent was so shocking that he threw up. Over time, he has regained his ability to smell more fragrances from farther and farther away. For example, he now reports being able to smell the lawnmower and can tell the difference between normal Coke and diet Coke. Now, John Doe no longer has to worry about missing smoke alarms — the sense of smell is back, thanks to the effective stellate ganglion block.
The Final Takeaway
While this might not seem like a big deal to many people, it is often hard to fully appreciate how essential some things are until they are lost. We often take our senses for granted, but do you know it is pretty common for patients who have lost their smell and taste to struggle with depression and other emotional troubles? That is why Genesis Pain Clinic offers stellate ganglion block, which has evident potential in treating loss of smell and taste. With this treatment, many people can now look forward to reviving the senses they once lost; just like John Doe did!