While COVID-19 cases have decreased in recent months, there are still potentially millions of people suffering from long COVID—the prolonged symptoms which can persist for months or even years after a COVID-19 infection. These symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fever, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, depression, and “brain fog”, as per the National Institutes of Health. COVID smell reduction is another common symptom. Recent research and clinical practices in the U.S. have found a solution to this debilitating condition.
According to the Cleveland ClinicThe stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is an injection into the stellate Ganglion. This is a part the sympathetic nervous system, which is located in the neck on either side the voice box. These nerves can be treated with a stellate ganglion block (SGB) to reduce pain in the neck and head, upper chest, upper arms, and neck. It can also improve circulation and blood supply to the arm. SGB is used to treat many conditions. But, researchers and medical professionals are now investigating whether the injection could be used to treat COVID-related smell loss.
A recent Newsweek article, for example, highlighted the work of David Gaskin, MHS, CRNA, a nurse anesthetist in nonsurgical pain management in Bryan, Texas, who has performed SGB on about 200 long-COVID patients and says the procedure has had an 85% to 90% success rate. In December 2021, an estimated 85% to 90% of all SGB patients will be alive. case series published in the Journal of NeuroimmunologySGB can be used to reduce fatigue, cognitive difficulties and loss of perception of smell. In the case study, two long COVID patients were treated with SGB, with one reporting “durable restoration of taste and smell” two weeks after the procedure, and the other reporting “drastic improvement” in her sense of smell just minutes after. Researchers suggested that SGB might have helped to restore the balance between the nervous- and immune systems. However, further research is needed.
SGB involves a specialist injecting local anesthetic to the affected area with a thin needle. A second needle will be used to inject anesthetic medication using x-rays or ultrasound. The procedure can last up to 30 minutes and is estimated to cost around $2,000. Although the risk is low, side effects such as bruising, soreness at the injection site and bloodshot eyes, drooping of the eyelids, difficulty swallowing, tearing, hoarseness, tearing, bloodshot or swollen eyes may occur. These will usually disappear within a few hours. It is not guaranteed to work. NewsweekArticle: A patient noticed an improvement in taste and smell after just a few hours. Then, she returned to her previous state.
Research has shown that people become more alert during a COVID-19-related infection. 27 times more likely to experience a loss of smell compared to people who have not been infected with the virus. It’s not known how common the virus-related loss of sense of smell is among those who have been infected. However, according To U.K. government research based on 351,850 responses to a survey, 37% of people with self-reported long COVID experienced smell loss.
“Long COVID has a serious impact on people’s ability to go back to work or have a social life. It affects their mental health and may have significant economic consequences for them, their families, and for society,” the World Health OrganizationIn a brief last year, it was declared. U.S. Congress dedicated $1.15 billion to fund research on long COVID. Other countries have funded similar research in other parts of the world. U.K. government pledging £18.5 million to look deeper into the causes, symptoms, and potential treatment pathways of long COVID. SGB’s use to treat COVID-related long-term loss of smell is still a novel treatment, but it could be a positive option for those who are suffering from the long-lasting mental and physical effects of COVID-19.