Zicam users who’ve allegedly found themselves without a sense of smell have to deal with another “loss”: the loss—or lack—of treatment options.
One thing you immediately realize upon reading a July 10th article from HealthDay Reporter on loss of smell and a possible new treatment for it is that restoring the sense of smell is not an easy task—few treatment options exist and those that do exist are not a sure bet.
The article, however, points to a potentially new treatment option found in a drug once used to treat asthma. The drug, theophylline, showed some initial promise in a recent study done by Dr. Robert Henkin, director of the Center for Molecular Nutrition and Sensory Disorders in Washington, D.C.
The study looked at 312 patients who were diagnosed with hyposmia (loss of smell) over a seven-year period. After being treated with theophylline, over 50% of the participants in the study reported improved sense of smell; more than 20% reported their smell had returned to normal.
Like any drug, theophylline doesn’t come without side effects—including restlessness and nausea. But more serious adverse effects have been reported as well including seizures and a fast or uneven heart rate (source: nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus). So, caution is certainly advised (translation: don’t do anything without consulting your doctor). Also, Dr. Henkin is quoted in the HealthDay article as stating that the findings on theophylline need to be verified with a clinical trial, and he is also working on development of an intranasally delivered form of the drug—the study was conducted with the pill form.
While you can’t run out and get some theophylline to treat smell loss just yet, this is one study that’s worth keeping an eye on.