Trevor’s Story: How Alison’s Story Helped Me Find Treatment
Trevor lives in the South Cotswolds where, as a retirement project, he runs walking tours, mostly of Bath. With his background as a chartered surveyor, Trevor’s understanding and love of architecture informs his talks when touring the city. His other loves though, notably his passions for cooking, food and music, are disrupted by a double whammy of smell and hearing loss.
These debilitating conditions hit Trevor hard. “I am a good cook, a real foodie and wine aficionado. I also have a great love of music.”
His smell loss first occurred after a bad bout of flu in 2014. Thereafter his olfactory senses were disrupted by any cold or similar infection.
The problem surfaced with a vengeance after Trevor contracted another virus, possibly Covid 19, at the time of the UK’s first lockdown. Meanwhile, he suffers from fluid build-up in his ears. The fluid is thought to be due to chronic rhinosinusitis and while the insertion of ear grommets brought temporary relief, his hearing was and remains compromised. As though to complete a perfect storm, painful pressure in his ears results in ruptured ear drums and he suffered too from nasal polyps, undergoing surgery for polyp removal in 2015.
Trevor’s sentiments regarding GP attitudes to anosmia are all too familiar. “My experience is that doctors have so much on their plates, anosmia is not given the attention it deserves. It is not life threatening, but does diminish one’s quality of life, in some cases to a degree unimaginable to a non-sufferer.”
After cutting out dairy Trevor enjoyed a period when his smell returned, though whether this was causal or co-incidental is hard to say. With his sense of smell gone again and hearing issues to the fore, the distressing sensory loss (“I was getting very grumpy!”) drove him to seek fresh advice from a new GP. The consultation led to a treatment programme consisting of frequent saline nasal douching, regular use of a steroid nasal spray, a week’s course of antibiotics and a two-week course of oral steroids. While his hearing issues persisted, other outcomes were dramatic. “After just four days of taking oral steroids, my sense of smell and taste returned as if by magic.
The improvement to my life and well-being was nothing short of sensational.” Equally though, Trevor’s experiences during this time are a reminder of how complex our olfactory processes are. “My sense of smell and taste was occasionally confused as (I assumed) my brain re learnt.”
The joy Trevor experienced post-treatment was short-lived. Trevor appreciates too that the side effects of oral steroids prevent them being a sustainable solution. Yet he takes solace in what happened, for it proved his olfactory pathways remain intact.
“The wonderful intensity of returned smells and flavours showed what my senses were capable of. It seems to me that something is masking the olfactory process. Perhaps one day research will reveal what is happening in cases like mine, and indeed, will indicate how the condition may be treated.” Furthermore, Trevor’s olfactory revelation replaced a sense of helplessness with one of control. He read a patient story on the Fifth Sense website about Alison and her treatment. He discussed this with his GP and having been put on the same regime his sense of smell and flavour perception is now pretty good and reliable, although not quite as powerful than on oral steroids. Trevor was prescribed Flixonase nasal drops twice daily, takes an off-the counter antihistamine pill and zinc supplement. He also uses a netipot saline sinus rinse once, sometimes twice a day. It’s early days but it isnt yet clear whether his GP will approve of continual use of Flixonase or indeed whether it will prove necessary.
Trevor’s hearing remains muted in one ear (albeit he percieves this is improved as a side benefit of Flixonase) possibly due to aural polyps He is having these checked out with his ENT consultant in June 2021.
Trevor is grateful for the resources and support provided by Fifth Sense that have helped him with his smell and taste roller coaster and is an active panel member of the #LetsTalkSmellAndTaste Virtual Café meetings.