As new studies and therapeutics emerge to better understand and treat olfactory disorders, olfactory registries can help patients. Jennifer Villwock, MD, said her team at the University of Kansas maintains an olfactory registry, and she reassures her patients that she will be in touch as new clinical trials emerge. “Referrals to sites actively engaging in this work may be helpful,” she said.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery has also created an anonymous reporting tool to help establish the importance of anosmia and dysgeusia in the diagnosis and progression of COVID-19, and to allow healthcare providers of all specialties and patients worldwide to submit data confidentially (visit https://www.entnet.org/covid-19-anosmia-reporting-tool/).
Treatments for post-COVID-19 olfactory disorder abound on social media.
One particular idea making its way around the social media site TikTok involves placing a finger on the forehead while another person flicks the back of the person’s head. (TikTok Users Are Flicking Each Other in the Head to Regain Taste and Smell After COVID-19 — But Does It Work? Shape. March 2, 2021.). The technique can be traced back to a YouTube video, posted by the news outlet AZ Family, in which a chiropractor advocates a second move to stimulate the olfactory nerve: sticking out the tongue and touching a finger to the tip while being flicked on the back of the head.
Eric Holbrook, MD, calls these treatments not only bogus but potentially dangerous. “Patients need to understand that social media is not a proper resource for medical advice and that they should speak with a physician,” he said. “We as physicians also need to educate these patients and be careful about what we suggest—we need to be careful about what we publish in the literature to avoid suggesting therapies that aren’t proven effective, and we need to carefully read published articles to make sure they have proper studies to back up any claim of real benefit.”