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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Can vitamin A nasal drops help restore Covid loss of smell? Know what experts say

While vitamin A drops are available in India, Dr Shuchin Bajaj said the "wait is on for the final result of the research to make use of it in our patients"

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 30, 2021 8:59:11 pm
smellVitamin A nasal drops is being studied for its potential to restore Covid loss of smell. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

A new medical trial in the UK is researching whether vitamin A nasal drops can be given to Covid patients to recover their loss of smell, a common symptom of the infection, which is sometimes even experienced by post-Covid patients. The 12-week trial by University of East Anglia (UEA) aims to compare a group of volunteers receiving vitamin A nasal drops with those receiving a placebo of inactive drops.

It is considered that the complaints of loss of smell and taste can last much longer than the virus itself, staying in place even when patients are testing negatively.

As per the research team’s press statement, previous research from Germany has “shown the potential benefit” of vitamin A in treating smell loss, and the trial is designed to “explore how this treatment works to help repair tissues in the nose damaged by viruses”.

The volunteers will be made to smell odours like rotten eggs and roses for “special brain scans” to gauge whether smelling can repair and detect brain activity, said UEA medical professor Carl Philpott.

Vitamin A, or retinol, experts say, has a range of benefits including for the skin, bone health, and even improving vision. A February 1962 JAMA network study also mentioned how vitamin A can help restore olfactory sense.

Vitamin A plays a vital role in metabolism and plays a vital role in regulating immune responses and reducing susceptibility to infections, said Sakina Diwan, dietician, Bhatia Hospital. “The mechanism adopted by vitamin A to reduce infection is often through modifying epithelial cell integrity and function,” she said.

Common sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk, yoghurt, and liver products. “Your body will also convert beta-carotene into vitamin A when consumed. Sources of beta-carotene include yellow, red, and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and red peppers, and yellow fruit, like mango, papaya, and apricots,” mentioned Diwan.

vitamin A Can Vitamin A nasal drops help? (Representative image)(Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

As per Harvard Medical School, temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is the main neurological symptom and one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of Covid. Notably, it is considered a better indicator of the infection than common symptoms like fever and cough. But the underlying mechanisms for loss of smell in patients with Covid-19 have been unclear.

According to experts, vitamin therapies have been used to cure many diseases for quite some time. Many physicians are now recognising the beneficial uses of antioxidants and other vitamins for a wide variety of conditions, often as a complementary therapy to accompany medication or other treatments, they say.

“When it comes to vitamin A, we have been using it to reduce complications of diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and measles, and for fertility, diarrhea, vision, child development, skin disorders, infections, and any other condition,” explained Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder-director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.

While vitamin A drops are available in India, Dr Bajaj said the “wait is on for the final result of the research to make use of it in our patients”.

However, Dr Manoj Sharma, senior consultant, internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi said the view that a few drops of vitamin A can fix the activity of damaged smell pathways in the brains of patients is not correct and has not been corroborated yet.

“In all honesty, I would not like to comment on the same as I do not think it will prove to be effective or helpful for patients with Covid. I think the only thing that can help are precautionary measures,” said Dr Sharma.

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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