November 20, 2023: A new study suggests that targeting the stellate ganglion, known as a “stellate ganglion block,” could restore smell and taste symptoms in long Covid patients who haven’t responded to other therapies. While the findings are preliminary, they offer hope for those grappling with persistent olfactory dysfunction.
Long Covid’s lingering effects
Long Covid often leaves individuals grappling with prolonged loss of taste and smell, with phantosmia and parosmia persisting beyond the usual recovery period. Although not life-threatening, these conditions significantly impact the quality of life with no enjoyment of food and drinks.
Stellate ganglion block
In a study presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting, researchers focused on the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves in the neck. The stellate ganglion block, an injection of anesthetic into this nerve cluster, is aimed to stimulate the autonomic nervous system. This is commonly used for PTSD and other conditions.
Encouraging Results and Limitations
The study involved 54 participants resistant to conventional treatments for parosmia. Of the 37 participants followed up, 22 reported improved symptoms a week after treatment, with additional significant enhancements a month later. Three months post-treatment, there was an average 49% improvement in symptoms, and 86% of responders showed further improvement after a second injection.
However, the study has limitations, with some participants not responding to the treatment. Notably, not everyone has a stellate ganglion, experts caution Long Covidthe lack of uniform stellate ganglion and limited symptom improvement for some patients.
It also poses a challenge to the universal applicability of this approach.
Despite the limitations, experts view the early results as promising and emphasize the significance of a minimally invasive therapy that provides a rapid response, especially for the 15% of patients experiencing persistent olfactory dysfunction after one year.
Exploring other avenues for long Covid management
For those grappling with long COVID symptoms, managing the condition involves multifaceted approaches. Research also suggests that adopting anti-inflammatory diets may help alleviate or shorten the duration of long Covid symptoms, emphasizing the role of inflammation in these lingering effects.
In the quest for effective treatments, the stellate ganglion block presents a promising avenue, offering hope for those whose lives have been profoundly impacted by persistent smell and taste distortions.