As the number of people who have contracted COVID-19 has been increasing, doctors have begun to see a corresponding rise in patients that are experiencing long term smell loss (also known as parosmia).
While there have been a number of clinical trials studying the use of corticosteroids for treating COVID-related smell loss, the findings have found that these drugs were not effective at treating this condition. For those who suffer from smell and taste disorders, life can be difficult. But help may be on the way.
Witnessing the first-hand effects of COVID-19, two Toronto-based entrepreneurs are hoping to make an impact with their new company, Sniffly, which has created a solution for people who want to improve their sense of smell and taste.
Armin Faraji and Bobby Rasouli, the founders at Sniffly were inspired to work on the project after coming off the heels of their own battle with smell loss after contracting COVID-19. “Our mission is to offer the world a safe, healthy, and convenient method for achieving smell and taste therapy,” said Rasouli, a medical student and the Co-Founder behind Sniffly.
“When Armin came to me with the idea of creating a therapy program, I was interested because we both had trouble finding remedies for our smell and taste loss. And as a medical student, I knew there was a need for this given the lack of media attention on smell training”.
Sniffly is tackling smell loss through a virtual therapy program that’s delivered as a series of video-based smell training exercises and self-assessments. The program is based on Professor Hummel’s smell therapy study from 2009, which involves ‘smell training’ using different essential oils that promote neuroplasticity within the olfactory bulb.
According to a recent study, 25 percent of people who suffered from COVID-19 also experienced long-term olfactory nerve damage. Since 2020, over 4,000,000 people have lost their ability to smell and taste. Millions more are at risk as the recent Delta strain continues to spread.
People who are unable to smell or taste have more serious problems than just not being able to enjoy food. It can impact your diet, create discomfort when you’re around other people — and if you can’t smell smoke or gas, you could be putting yourself and others in danger.
Given the increased pressure that COVID-19 has put on the healthcare system, Sniffly is also being used by doctors and ENT specialists to help their patients recover from a loss of sense of smell.
“We have numerous patients who have come in for smell loss. I believe Sniffly has a great potential to help those patients as well as ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists that are seeking solutions for this problem,” says Dr. Arash Gharajeh, an ER doctor at Mackenzie Health.