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Nebraska teen gets sense of smell back after COVID, thanks to shots ‘rebooting’ nerve system

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 12:14 PM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (KETV) - Coronavirus can have many side-effects that sideline people from their lives, and it has affected a teen’s taste and smell for months.

Reagan Springer, 13, said the food she used to love became unbearable to smell for months while struggling to eat. But one doctor in Texas was able to help her eat normally again.

Reagan can currently enjoy pasta, something she hasn’t had for the last nine months.

“It was so relieving to just be able to taste food,” Reagan said.

In May 2021, Reagan got COVID-19, and through that, she developed parosmia. The food she usually loved tasted disgusting, and doctors could not figure out why.

“They were like, ‘This is going to last forever. You’re never going to be fixed,’ so I got in the car and was crying,” Reagan said.

But then her mother, Heather Springer, found a post on Facebook where a pain specialist was administering shots that helped such a condition.

Springer said she called specialist David Gaskin on the same day and then traveled to Texas to visit him.

Gaskin gave Reagan a stellate ganglion block, which required two shots in her neck. The stellate ganglion is a collection of nerves found in the neck, and the shots help reboot that system and give relief for parosmia.

“From the time they injected her to the time she was able to eat and smell food was such a difference in a short amount of time,” Springer said.

Gaskin said the procedure is not new, but they only recently began using it to treat parosmia. He also said it has a 90% success rate, and with others seeing success stories on social media, he currently has a pretty busy schedule.

“I just treated a gentleman from Israel. He flew 19 hours to have the injection,” Gaskin said.

The pain specialist said he’s happy to help people get back to normal.

“Watching patient after patient cry with joy, my whole staff is crying; I’m crying. It’s a tough day but a great day,” Gaskin said.

The shots have helped Reagan’s smell, but she said it is still not back to 100%.

“I had chicken wings the other night, and it was fine, but then the grilled chicken was pretty bad,” Reagan said.

Her parosmia is currently manageable, and she credits the shots Gaskin gave her.

“If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. We would definitely go back and maybe get it a little bit sooner,” Reagan said.

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