Vitamin A nasal drops to be trialled to help restore post-COVID smell loss


A 12-week trial will look at whether nasal drops can help those who lost their sense of smell after having COVID-19.

The “Apollo trial” will treat people who have experienced a loss of smell or altered sense of smell because of coronavirus using vitamin A nasal drops.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) said research from Germany has shown the potential benefit of the vitamin, and its team “will explore how this treatment works to help repair tissues in the nose damaged by viruses”.

They hope the trial “could one day help improve the lives of millions around the world who suffer from smell loss, by returning their fifth sense”.

It comes after an international group of experts advised against the use of steroids to treat smell loss, instead suggesting “smell training”.

One of the experts, Professor Carl Philpott from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said there was “very little evidence” steroids will help with smell loss.

Instead, they have “potential side effects including fluid retention, high blood pressure, and problems with mood swings and behaviour”, he said.

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Scientists recommended sniffing at least four different odours, twice daily, for several months.

Prof Philpott said this method “aims to help recovery based on neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise itself to compensate for a change or injury”.

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Those interested in participating in the university’s vitamin A study are asked to seek a referral from their GP to the Smell and Taste Clinic at the James Paget Hospital in Norfolk’s Great Yarmouth.

The study, which is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will begin recruiting participants in December.

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