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UK Studying Vitamin A to Treat COVID-19 Smell Loss

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U.K. researchers announced Tuesday they are studying if vitamin A nasal drops could treat loss or altered sense of smell in patients who suffered from COVID-19.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and James Paget University Hospital will begin a 12-week trial providing volunteers with either vitamin A or placebo nasal drops, according to the study. The treatment will look to repair tissue in the nose that was damaged by the virus.

“The huge rise in smell loss caused by COVID-19 has created an unprecedented worldwide demand for treatment,” Carl Philpott, professor at UEA’s Norwich Medical School and James Paget University Hospitals National Health Service Trust, said.

Philpott highlights the various impacts of smell loss, including depression, anxiety, and isolation, along with a reduction in appetite and the potential to consume spoiled or dangerous foods.

Participants will be asked to smell specific smells like roses and rotten eggs while also undergoing brain scans, Philpott explained. The scans will tell if the nerves used for smelling and detecting odors have been repaired after being damaged by the virus.

Roughly 1 in 10 COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of smell did not fully recover within four weeks, and Philpott believes a key problem is “the lack of proven effective treatments.”

A previous study performed in Germany found that those treated with vitamin A recovered almost twice as much as those who did not use the treatment, according to Philpott.

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