Olfactory function in patients with postinfectious and posttraumatic smell disorders before and after treatment with vitamin A: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial


  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



In this study we investigated the effectiveness of vitamin A in postinfectious and posttraumatic smell disorders. A possible effect of vitamin A is likely due to the stimulation of regeneration and repair of the peripheral olfactory system.

Study Design:

Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.


A total of 52 patients (age range, 20–70 years; mean age, 52 years) participated, 26 of whom received placebo (7 male, 19 female) and another 26 verum (8 male, 18 female). A standardized history was obtained in each patient. Olfactory function was measured by means of the Sniffin' Sticks test kit, a validated technique to investigate odor thresholds, odor discrimination, and odor identification. Vitamin A was prescribed at a dose of 10,000 IU per day for 3 months. Follow-up testing was performed on average 5 months after the first investigation.


Forty-four percent of all patients reported recovery of their sense of smell; 29% of the participants exhibited significant improvement in measured olfactory function. However, there was no significant difference between the outcome of patients receiving verum or placebo.


The systemic application of vitamin A at a dose of 10,000 IU per day for 3 months does not appear to be useful in the treatment of postinfectious or posttraumatic olfactory loss.