NICE, France — Theright nostril, making her whole nose glow red with its tiny bright light. Tickles a bit, eh?” he asked as he rummaged around her nasal passages, the discomfort causing tears in her eyes and rolling down her cheeks.
The patient, Gabriella Forgione, wasn’t complaining. The 25-year-old pharmacy worker was happy to be prodded and poked at the hospital in Nice, in southern France, to advance her increasingly pressing quest to recover her sense of smell. Along with her sense of taste, it suddenly vanished when she fell ill with, and neither has returned.
“Sometimes I ask myself,’ Do I stink?'” she confessed. “Normally, I wear perfume and like for things to smell nice. Not being able to smell bothers me greatly.”
Even specialist doctorsthere is much about the condition they still don’t know, and they learn as they go along in their diagnoses and treatments. Impairment and smell alteration have become so familiar with COVID-19 that some that simple odor tests could be used to track coronavirus infections in countries with few laboratories.
For most people, the olfactory problems are temporary, often improving in weeks. But a small minority complain of persistent dysfunction long after otherhave disappeared. Some have of smell six months after infection. The longest, some , is now approaching an entire year.
Researchersthey are optimistic that most will eventually recover, but fearsome will not. Some doctors are concerned that of smell-deprived patients, many young, could be more prone to depression and other difficulties and weigh on strained health systems.
“They are losing color in their lives,” said Dr. Thomas Hummel, whoin Dresden, Germany.
“These people will survive, and they’ll be successful in their lives and professions,” Hummel added. “But their lives will be much poorer.”
At the Face and Neck University Institute in Nice, Dr. Clair Vandersteen wafted tube after tube of odors under Forgione’s nose after he had rooted around in her nostrils with his camera.
“Do you perceive any smell? Nothing? Zero? OK,” he asked, as she repeatedly and apologetically responded with negatives.