Woman’s taste, smell return thanks to treatment after battling long COVID for 2 years

An Ohio woman’s sense of taste and smell has returned two years after first suffering COVID symptoms thanks to a new Cleveland Clinic treatment. (Source: WOIO)
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 9:44 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND (WOIO/Gray News) - People suffering from long COVID symptoms have reported losing their sense of smell and taste.

Unfortunately, this has been the grim reality for millions of people considered to be COVID long-haulers.

WOIO reports that 54-year-old Jennifer Henderson has been one of those suffering from COVID symptoms for years.

She used to love going out to dinner with her husband, cooking and trying new recipes. But her love for food went out the window two years ago after she contracted COVID.

Henderson said she started scouring the internet for help and came across a common pain management treatment that was being used to assist COVID long-haulers to restore their sense of taste and smell.

She then reached out to doctors Christina Shin and Jijun Xu at the Cleveland Clinic regarding the treatment. And so far, it has been a success two years in the making.

“We were able to do a simple intervention we use commonly for chronic pain management to help improve or get the patient taste and smell back,” Xu said.

The Cleveland Clinic released the emotional video of Henderson first being able to smell something for the first time since getting COVID.

“We just want to see if there’s any change at all,” a Cleveland Clinic medical provider can be heard telling Henderson. “See if you could smell this.”

Henderson took a cup of coffee from the medical provider and started crying while saying, “I can smell it!”

Before receiving the treatment, Henderson said bananas tasted like metal and garlic tasted like gasoline.

Xu said they have treated a couple of dozen patients so far. He said the procedure is easy and very low risk. Some patients, like Henderson, see results right away but for others, it can take several days or weeks.

“I would say I have maybe around 50 percent of my patients having a quick and rapid response in restoring some of their smell or taste functions,” Xu said.

Henderson said her senses are almost entirely back to normal.

“We still don’t know how it works but this is a hope for some patients with long-term COVID symptoms and we’re here trying to help those who need to get their taste or smell back,” Xu said. “We are working to see how it works and try to optimize the technique and approach in order to serve more patients.”

More information is available by contacting Cleveland Clinic’s Recover Clinic at 216-444-6503.