Leading neurologist, Dr. Omar Danoun, explains post covid neurological symptoms, like smelling loss, and what you can do about them! Don’t miss Dr. Omar’s expert advice including proven therapies to improve your loss of taste and smell.
Download this podcast episode now with the audio player above, or watch the show below.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- American vs. Palestinian medical systems
- Epilepsy: Diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments
- Covid19-related neurological complications and how to treat them
- Post-Covid brain fog vs. memory disorders
- What Parosmia is and how is it treated
- NEW Laser treatment for Epilepsy and Seizures, LITT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjOp-IuIZ-g
- Cognitive Therapy: https://www.eehealth.org/services/rehabilitation/specialties/cognitive-therapy/
ABOUT: DR. OMAR DANOUN
Dr. Omar Danoun is a leading expert on epilepsy and neurology. He has worked with multiple epilepsy and neurology societies and organizations, like the Epilepsy Foundation and the American Epilepsy Society, to raise awareness for epilepsy and related conditions. His insights are widely regarded by people with epilepsy and their families.
CONNECT WITH: DR. OMAR
- Website: Dr. Omar Danoun: https://www.dromardanoun.com/
- YouTube: Dr. Omar Danoun: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUpOvIIWABhYKqxrls-vcVg
- Instagram: @dromardanoun: https://www.instagram.com/dromardanoun/
- TikTok: @dromardanoun: https://www.tiktok.com/@dromardanoun
- Twitter: @omar_danoun: https://twitter.com/omar_danoun
- Facebook: Dr. Omar Danoun : https://www.facebook.com/DanounNeurology
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What I do is that I believe that every patient is empowered enough to understand their medical condition and participate actively in their care. So by teaching them everything about the condition, about the brain, about epilepsy, about any brain condition, then they’ll be better at taking care of themselves.
Welcome to the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast with DIY Healthy Lifestyle Blogger on a former empowering you to transform your. One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I’m your host, Anna Fuller. Today we have Dr. Omar De Noon on the show.
Dr. Omar is a leading neurologist with an expertise in epilepsy who is passionate about providing accurate and easy to understand information about the brain, including post covid neurological symptoms like loss of smell and taste, and what you. Can do about them here to share his expert advice. Welcome neurologist, Dr.
Omar de noon. Thank you. And thank you for having me. Yeah, we were just chatting offline. For those of you listening and watching, he dropped off his kids. You have two kids, you said he was trying to remember their ages. I don’t blame them. I can’t even remember how many kids I have. Half the time. . Yeah, you have, And I only have three
Yeah. Half, two kids. One of them is six years old and one of them one and a half year old. And it’s interesting to see the new dynamics between the older one and the younger one. They’re both boys, so kind of follow. That’s so fun though. They. They’ll be like the best of friends and the best of enemies all at the same time.
Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, you have an expertise in neurology and I don’t know if you know this about me actually, but, so I’m a nurse practitioner by education. I worked in the ER for 10 years, but I also. Started up to stroke programs during that time and acted as the assistant medical director then for the programs.
So I worked very closely for a number of years with neurology in helping to establish these programs and then certainly ongoing treatment for. Our stroke patients. So when I saw your expertise, I thought, Oh, this is fun. We haven’t actually had a neurologist, and obviously when I introduced you, your expertise is really, you’ve focused in on an epilepsy.
But anyway, it’s fun to have a neurologist here on this show. I like to press the rewind button. Tell us a little bit about how. You even got into neurology and then more specifically epilepsy being a focus of yours. Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s an interesting part. Always I like to talk about is that how we got into neurology because the brain looks like a black box for lots and lots of people, even to doctors.
So I, I, I started my career in, when I was in medical student in Jerusalem, in Palestine, and I was, uh, doing my medical school and then I got into neuroscience research because I was fascinated by the brain and how it. And doing research, I doing cognitive neuroscience and how the brain areas interact.
And then I got interested in neurology because it treats all the brain conditions and the brain aspects. And in there while shadowing, uh, neurologists and shadowing psychiatrists there because all of them are treating nerve issues, , right? So I stumbled into lots of, uh, population over the epilepsy and, uh, the symptoms of epilepsy, how they present.
And how to connect the dots to make the diagnosis is very interesting to me. And I pursued a career in epilepsy right from the beginning. So I, I came to United States, to Detroit, Michigan, and uh, I interviewed and then during my, You went from, that’s an interesting point right there. So you went from Palestine to Detroit, Michigan.
Completely, yeah. one flight, . I mean that in and of itself, that had to be a culture shock. Did you grow up? In Palestine? Yes. I, I, yeah. I was born, raised, grown up in Palestine and I, uh, yeah, I did my medical school there. Yeah. And during my, my medical school, I got the chance to come into, to United States to practice, like, to just shadow doctors.
I went to, my first experience was in Boston. I went to Harvard Medical School. I sheed neurosurgeon, internal medicine psychiatrist. So I got to feel how the American system works and how the. Interaction between doctors and then started liking epilepsy the most. And when I interviewed for my neurology residency at, told that I am interested in epilepsy.
Like, Oh, this is like a, a deep subspecialty. Are you sure? It’s like, Yeah, I’m sure I wanna do epilepsy. And that’s what I got and I’ve been doing it since, since then. I love that. Just for a second, share with me what that transition was. Going from, I mean, I’m, I don’t know this, I’m assuming there’s some pretty drastic differences between.
The medical system where you grew up versus the American medical system. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but share with me. Yes. What were some of those adjustments that you saw? So there, there is lots of differences and changes between, um, third world like medical system and uh, Palestinian medical system, which is, has lots of difficulties and challenges and American medical system.
So when I, so there is like mostly about. Focusing on just getting sick, see the doctor, just deal with it right away and, and, and go on with your life. So, and not following with doctors and like if you have a problem, just go to the doctor with that organ and just try hope to find answers. , . And then you come to American system and then it’s kind of very organized and have lots of hierarchy and, and referrals and, and the primary doctor, So me as a specialist, I see patients after being referred.
From other doctors and, uh, the access to care is also completely different with insurance and private and public. So kind of like a lot of differences and changes. Yeah. And also to have to learn to the culture and like, what does, like, uh, it took a minute for, for me to meet, to me like 60 seconds. But in Detroit minute means like a long time
So it’s, it’s kinda like . It’s like, uh, the first time I was talking to somebody in Detroit, it’s like, oh, it took me a minute to overcome that. Oh, that’s good. Like 60 seconds is, is a pretty short time to overcome a disease. And it’s like, no, no, no. A minute means like a long time to take care . So like some of the phrases that we use, You’re taking literally, and it’s like, No, no, not actually.
Exactly. So you have to learn the link’s, so Yeah. Yeah. I learned that. I’m curious. Letter is Z. Is Z, not Zed. . Yeah. Isn’t that funny? Well, what’s actually fascinating about that is in certain things, like for example, certain voice teachers will still use Z as opposed to Z. Yes. Even here. Yeah. There’s so many weird.
I’m curious, in your experience, what would you say. If we could take one positive thing from the Palestinian approach to. What would it be in our medical there system there? Yeah, there are, there are multiple positive things. So the first of all is that how we, it’s kinda like how we value doctors and then the doctor’s recommendation.
So there is like the doctor like kinda like, have very high respect, uh, and if the doctor say something that you have to do it and you have to abide, but where the doctor says, and they know absolutely everything, and this is kind of like the, the ranking of the doctors there and they should know everything in life.
Medicine, and this is , like they’re counselor, orthopedist, neurologist, They called everything. So, and they, and they call them Wiseman, like Hakeem means like wise. So that’s how they, they call doctors actors. But, but the interesting thing that I try to use is that we have untapped genetic conditions in, in Palestine and variations and pure genetics.
So, so we started that. And we contributed to science by studying genetics and condition that have genetic predisposition because we have pure families of kind of multiple generations of the same interesting, uh, bloodlines. So we were able to study lots of conditions and also we have untreated patients, so we, our studying cognition and Parkinson’s disease and, and, and depression and the fact that we have an untreated population.
So we have the effects of the disease itself on the cognition and the effects of the treatment afterwards. Right. In the United. Is very difficult to get this study done because most of the patient already been treated by their primary doctors or somebody else, and that’s, It’s hard to isolate all of the extra factors.
Yeah. That is really interesting. What would you say in terms of culturally, You mentioned that taking a minute here is actually referencing it took a long time. Yeah. In terms of like lifestyle culture, what was the biggest adjustment for you? Yeah, so lifestyle, lifestyle is also different. Like how, you know, how work is and how, like you wake up like early in the morning and you go back home late at night.
And, and, uh, the hard work that we do here, which is interesting, which is good that the amount of work and the amount of hard work we put in and the science and how we build everything on facts and figures, that that is interesting. And, and, and that’s what got me into like the American system and why I loved it.
And so I now, and they just, there . Yeah, interesting. As opposed to what would the schedule be like in Palestine? Oh, much, much more laid back. So it’s kinda like they go like at eight, nine o’clock and by in 12, one o’clock it’s done . So that’s really everyone listening right now, I guarantee you is like, Oh, that sounds lovely.
Yeah. Yeah. But most of them like go from the government hospital to do their own clinics and they can see for a long time I’ve been. And that’s what got me into education. So that is my passionate, is to educate people and then teach something. So I, I remember, like I go home from my middle school, I, I learn about like the, the brain or about like, memory, how it works.
So I, I go home like just is my passion just to teach something. And then I go to my mom and my sister and my brother start. Teaching them about the brain and teaching them about like the interesting things that I learned to, did, you know, my medical school work. And they kind of like, oh, they got interested like in the medicine.
And my brother and sister got into that as well. Like, my brother is a radio grapher and my sister is a nutritionist because of what? Like my influence on them. Like just keep fascinating them about the brain and the body and the, and other things. And then that’s like, you know, I started dabbling with like videos and with like education and material.
Back then we kind of like designed a campaign against, uh, like HIV or Campaign against Malaria or something like, you know, any, any medical condition. And we tried to make videos to kinda explain things better to the people and that’s how we got into education and, and teaching to the public. Hmm. I love that.
And I think what’s fascinating to me about that is you, unlike many people I would say, who go up through the medical system in America, There’s already so much access and healthcare access, so we have this degree of knowledge. Sometimes it’s dangerous cuz we have a little bit, we have just enough knowledge to be able to sort of know what we’re talking about, but not enough to actually.
Yeah, be safe. Um, just generally speaking in the population. So it’s interesting. Did you find that you learned how to simplify terminology because a lot of the people you were speaking to did not have that kind of access or understanding of terms that otherwise? Yeah, that’s correct. Because yeah, because to explain the brain, like let alone like any medical jargon and and description is a pretty complex task.
Yes. And if you want to be a good doctor to your patient, you explain to them what, what it means to have any, any medical condition. So what, what I end up doing is that explaining, like coming up with metaphors and coming up with things that make it very relatable to things that doing on everyday basis.
So that’s how I educate and teach and that’s how. Doing my epilepsy, uh, education online because I see in my own epilepsy clinic that patients are like not informal about their condition and, and they try to sometimes figure out things on their own by going to Google and just searching. And then any, like the first page that they get fed by Google, they will read it and try to understand something about it.
And most of it is written by complex medical terminology and. All the multimodal imaging of 3D reconstructed brain, You know, that’s like so complex. Just give me the , give me those in, in simple words. Not simple. Yeah. Not simple, simple words that I can digest. And the same time you do not sacrifice the medical information.
So we don’t like, you know, keep, That’s our, I I understand, said like, keep everything simple but not simpler. Right? Like, just give me the simple explanation and still keep all the informations, uh, there. So I. I go to my, like, son, like, uh, first grade school and they explain like how the brain works and how the body works and, and it is true information, but in the very, like a, uh, first grade level.
So they did not sacrifice the information, but just got in a way that everyone can understand. Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful explanation and I think oftentimes, I mean I saw this in the ER all of the time, is it’s just easier sometimes for a provider to use the really quick medical textbook explanation and then hustle out the door.
Hopefully you sounded smart cuz you used all these big words. But in reality because, so before I was a nurse practitioner, I was a. And one of the things that nurses learn to do really, really well is translate, doctor speak. Yes. Because the doctor piece is out and then the patient looks at you and you’re like, You didn’t understand a word he said.
Exactly. . Okay, so here’s actually what he’s saying. Yeah. And so it’s one of the advantages of nurse practitioners sometimes is. As a provider. Now you’re kind of functioning similarly to a physician, but you’ve had all the experience of translating complicated concepts in a way the patient can understand.
So I have so much respect for you as a neurologist because I think this is a huge element to higher level medical education that is missing the ability to communicate in a way that. Simple without being simpler, still protecting the quality of the medical knowledge that you’re communicating, so that’s correct.
I have so much respect for that and I, I’m sure your patients have so much appreciation for it as well. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. So they, they feel that when I, So yeah, you, I give them like the medications and the treatment and things like, now we finished a plan, let’s talk about what you do have and then start explaining to them like, you know, this is your condition.
This is what it’s cause about. This is what you do, this is why you have this. Because all of those are questions are, and the patient’s mind, but because our like rushed visits and we want to kinda. Finish the elephant in the room, which is like handling the active medical problem. We don’t like go in in the back details about why this happens, why, why you’re having this, because all of those are, are questions on the patient’s mind.
And when you explain to them, it’s like, ha, I never like knew that this is gonna be happening. I never knew that this was the cause or, or this is how it is treated and, and so on. So what I, I wanted to do is that, you know, I tried like I am one person and I can see like five 10. 15 patients a day in my clinic.
But what I wanted to do is I wanna increase my impact and make it global impact. So I want to, whatever knowledge I have, squeeze it in bullet points and put it as videos on the internet so that everyone can benefit regardless of where they are. And what access they have. So like anywhere in the world.
And that’s what I started doing. Started doing like videos and putting those on YouTube and just everything I teach my patients in the clinic, I put it in a video and then I started like doing one question at a time. Like what causes epilepsy? Why what? How we can treat it epilepsy. What cause epilepsy in children and adults?
And can you drive with epilepsy? Can you get married with epilepsy? Like any single question that you have on your mind, I will make a video. In details, explain it and then move on the next one and move on to the next one. And patients really appreciate that. And, and, and I see the feedback, like, the feedback I get is that it’s very positive that patients are learning something in you and, uh, they’re really like, they know much better about their condition than before.
And, uh, sometimes they take. The treatments and, uh, the explanations I, I do to their neurologist and tell ’em like, Hey, there’s a new thing coming up and this medicine can, can we, So they’re kind of like challenging their own doctors to get up to the level of the new science and new breakthroughs because it’s like drinking from a fire hose, learning about the advancements and the new treatments for epilepsy.
Every single week or month, we have a new treatment, renew, breakthrough new surgery, all of that. And you have to keep up. It’s so overwhelming. To the point that general neurologists are not able to keep up with all of that information wealth. So they kind of have like their way of doing things based on like 10, 15 years ago treatments.
And then there’s a treatment came six months ago, and then I make a video and the patients watch it and it’s like, Oh, this is seems like a good treatment. And then they go to the neurologist and discuss that. And that’s kind of like I change, I change the culture of. And, and also to change the narrative that we as doctors know everything and patients just listen.
Yeah. So that’s not, that’s not what I do. So what I do is that I believe that every patient is empowered enough to understand their medical condition and participate actively in their care. So by teaching them everything about the, the condition, like about the brain, about the, the stroke, about epilepsy, about any brain condition, or any condition in general, then they’ll be better at taking care of themselves when they understand why we’re treating this condition this way, why we have alternative to treatment, what is the next plan, A and B, and C.
So then we empower those patients and they can participate and when they are actively participating in their care, They will follow the plan because it’s their plan. So when we tell them, take those medications, if they, this is their decision, they chose this medicine, I give them four options, and they chose this option.
They feel ownership about their condition and they will follow instead of just like, Oh, this is your treatment. Take those pills and come back in a month. And I don’t understand why I’m taking what I’m, What I’m taking. Yeah. Or how long I would, It’s really a good business model. You’re ultimately delegating really in an appropriate way.
You’re saying, I’m gonna empower you with this information. You know, you have no excuse to not take ownership of your health. And most times, like you just said, they end up following the plan better because they understand the why behind the. That’s correct. I think the greatest challenge in my experience, the people, because especially in medicine, we get very logical thinkers, especially higher level medicine.
And I think, I think in my, I don’t know what you would say, but in my experience, I think the challenges, a lot of specialists have a very difficult time simplifying their knowledge. I think that’s the challenge is a lot of, you know, higher level medical providers have a difficult. That’s, that’s simplifying it and communicating it clearly cuz that’s not the way their brain works.
Yes. Yeah, that is correct. So most of the time, which is why you’re a gem, you’re a gem of a neurologist because very few are able to do that. Thank you. So that is a hundred percent correct because we, we forget the day when we have no idea what the brain is. . Yes. So like the, the ancient in Greece, they, they name the brain as n syphilis means that inside syphilis means a skull.
So whatever that inside the skull they called it. So they thought that every bone has a marrow. So bone marrow, and then the, the brain is the marrow of the skull, , that’s why they call it en syphilis, whatever, inside that skull. So, and then now we know a lot about the brain. So, because I know that does not mean that the patients know or what’s going on.
So we should start really, really from the basics. Like a, B, c, as if you’re explaining it for, for the first time to yourself. And this is called the cursive knowledge because we know a lot. That means we assume that everyone else knows and that this is not true, that we have to explain it. And then the specialist, if they’re like so narrow at some specialty Yeah, then they get like stuck at that specialty and, and it feels like.
It feels that everything revolves around that and they kind of sometimes forget the bigger picture, which always we should do. We should treat the patient as a whole because if the patient cholesterol and heart is not fixed, that’s why they’re having strokes. And then maybe that that’s why they’re having epilepsy.
So if I just focus on the brain condition and forget the whole body, forget the nutrient. And we all know how well neurologists and cardiologists work together. I mean, they’re like two peas in a pod. Exactly. Yeah, that’s a lie. By the way, if you’re listening, . Well, , most neurologists and cardiologists do not work hand in hand.
They should. Many don’t. They both think their organ is more important. Don’t we all? Yeah. So really quick, let’s just touch on a little bit about epilepsy. I we’re gonna dive into the neurological covid symptoms because I think this is certainly going to be relevant for many, many people and understanding, most people don’t even realize that a lot of these symptoms are neurological.
In nature, but really, really quickly and simply for people listening who maybe have a contact of somebody with epilepsy, whether they happen to have somebody that they’re related to that’s diagnosed, I loved, I checked out your YouTube channel. He has an amazing YouTube channel, by the way, when he is talking about video, he has.
Everything there, and we’ll make sure that’s included in the show notes, but you have a great video that just talks about a new epilepsy diagnosis explained Since this is your expertise, really quickly just give us the simplified rundown of epilepsy. Yeah. So that’s, uh, yeah, that’s the thank you for, and this is, uh, an important condition.
So epilepsy is, is a, is a common condition way more common than we think. It, it affects one in 26 people will have a seizure and about like one in 100 will have epilepsy. So if you go to a stadium full of like, 5,000 during a Super Bowl or 50,000, it will be at least, at least 500 people cheering in the audience, half epilepsy.
So epilepsy is a common condition, but it is not recognized or people don’t talk about it a lot. Uh, so epilepsy is a condition in the brain where there is excess electricity leading into spontaneous seizure. So somebody will be sitting down and will have a seizure, and the seizure is an electricity storm in the brain and whatever the brain area.
The seizure will be presenting like so we know that you go to Harry Potter movies and everyone like in the movies, seizures. Somebody frothing, somebody falls and somebody, Exactly. It’s all over . Yeah, but surprising. It’s the movie Seizure. Yeah. Yes. The movie. It’s like we call the movie Stroke. When I would teach it be like, Not all strokes or movie strokes.
Yeah, exactly. And, and that is correct. That’s, uh, the seizures. This seizure type only happens 25% just in my, a quarter of the time. Most of the other times is that wherever the brain area will do, the seizures will be, So seizures mostly happen in the temporal lo, which is the area of the brain, uh, right into like inside the, the ears.
Uh, and that area is responsible for your memory. So you’ll feel dejavu and that is a seizure. It it, and then it will spread to other ears, will start shaking. Your face shaking your arm, shaking your leg, and then the seizure is electricity marching and every area it will touch will do whatever the area does.
So it’s kind like there is a switch. That switch is connected to a light bulb. So any switch you turn on, the light bulb will show. So if it happens in the area of move, you’ll start shaking your face or arm. If it happens in the area of vision in the back of the head, you’re starting stars or, or you start having vision.
Pictures or seeing things if it happens in the sensory area, starts feeling pain. If it happens in the emotions, people start having frightening or sudden crying. All of those are seizures and what makes them seizures then panic attacks or other thing is the progression. So that’s electricity jumps from one area to another, and for us, a diagnose epilepsy, we have to have two seizures for more than 24 hours apart.
This will be the diagnosis and we do testing to prove that we can do, We can measure the brain electricity very easily by doing an EEG electroencephalogram. We put wires in the brain and we record the brain activity, and we can see those sparks of electricity in the brain. And we can look at the brain itself by doing a brain mri.
And the brain MRI takes a nice pictures of the brain so that we can see if there’s a scar or anything. And the cause. What is really quick, I just wanna ask, what is the number one, so when you don’t have the movie seizures, like the obvious ones that people are like, Oh, that looks like a seizure. What is the number one symptom that you hear patients state?
What is the most like, Yeah, so mo, subtle symptom. Yeah, so it’s very, so much because of the difference in age. So in age in children, maybe they’re staring, so like they’ll be sitting and staring, the eyes will roll up and then will come back, eyes roll up, come back. And sometimes in adults as well, they will stare and stop responding.
So they’ll pause. So they’ll be talking, All of a sudden they will pause, start chewing their mouth and start picking on themselves. And that is a seizure. So that’s why I always, like, I train the cops here in the United States, like the police about seizures and epilepsy. I tell them, There is a seizure that patients will be completely unresponsive and looking at right at you.
So they’ll be, uh, unresponsive, uh, chewing their mouth and picking on their clothes. So imagine like, you know, there is an accident. Somebody is in the passenger seat, they’re unresponsive, hands on the wheel, hands on the wheel, hands up, and then they do not listen to you. And then they’re picking their clothes.
That can be dangerous because it might be reaching for something. So I teach the, the police officers that this is a seizure and you should always consider. Uh, patients having seizures if they’re acting weird or not responding to you. And the treatment for epilepsy is like medications. And luckily, 50 to 70% of people will respond to medications and if it does not respond, sometimes we have second line treatments with some surgical treatments that we can do for people who do not respond to medication, which about quarter of that time.
So it is not uncommon for people to continue having seizures and we sometimes need to do surgery for. Either by implanting devices or taking out some brain, uh, scars that cause the seizure and explain why. Cuz this is a question I used to get in the er. A lot of people think that epileptic conditions can be cured.
So explain the treatment goal of epilepsy. Yeah. Cause a lot of times there’s questions. Well, yeah. Is there a medicine to cure it? Yeah. So the, the word cure is it’s a very rarely achieved word in medicine. So we like to use the treatment rather than cure. Because cure, if you have, uh, strip throat, Bacteria in the throat, you give it antibiotic, the bacteria dies and you’re cured.
You don’t need the antibiotic and the bacteria is gone. But other than infections, very few conditions that are curable, if you would say, epilepsy is one of the chronic condition that stay in the brain for long time, and they need to be treated for long time. SOE medications, they calm down the brain, electricity.
They cannot obli, treat or remove the scar that cause seizures to happen at the beginning. There are cure. There is cure for epilepsy in certain patients. So it’s not like completely we need to take medications. So there are some, some patients who will achieve cure and especially the kids that their young brain.
Has like channels or something in their brain is causing ’em to have seizures. And once they reach the maturity and puberty, like at age 12, their brain will shift to adult brain. And then that those channels and those like the, the chemistry or or the electricity, what was causing the seizures in the young.
We’ll go into maturity and then will be replaced by a normal brain tissue and brain cells, and that will be the ongoing, and that is the case of like, you know, if patients have those types of seizures, they can be cured and stopped the medicine. But if seizures started later in life at twenties, thirties, or later, then probably the case is more chronic and they need to take medicine for long time sometimes for.
That’s a great explanation. We are going to take a quick break when we come back. Stay tuned for speed round of this or that with Dr. Omar and we’re gonna hear his expert advice on neurological complications post covid and what you can do about them right when we come back from this break. You have tried it all, worried he will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed.
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All right. We are back here with Dr. Omar. We’re gonna play a quick round of this or that. This is, you get two options. You can pick whichever one comes to mind first as a way to get a, help us get to know you a little bit better. No stress would you rather. Cake or pie? Cake. Cake. What’s your favorite cake?
Oh, my favorite is carrot cake. I love it. Oh, carrot cake. I don’t know if I’ve heard that one yet. Do you have a favorite place to get carrot cake? Well, my wife makes it much better than any place outside. I would say . That’s a great answer. The wife of Dr. Omar. That’s a great answer. You’ll get bonus points for that one.
Make sure she listens to the episode. You make his favorite kick. Okay. Would you rather a personal yacht or a private jet? Well, I love the water, so I’ll do personal yacht. Personal yacht. Where are you docking your yacht. If you could, like, money is no, no concern. Where do you want your yacht to be? Oh, probably go to somewhere warm.
So the key islands . Well, that’s true. Yeah. So where, where is that the, the keys? Like the Florida. Oh, Florida. Okay. Okay. Yeah. The, the, the key islands. Uh, I feel like Italy or something would be my, somewhere off the shore of Italy. Okay. What’s worse? Laundry or dishes? Dishes for sure. dishes. . Do you do the dishes?
Do you have a system in your house? Oh, of course, of course. Yeah. I do help My wife, My wife is like a PhD student. She’s actively writing her dissertation. Oh, good for her. Graduating in two months, so I, That’s amazing. Do what is her name? Uh, Sharine Sharine. Congratulations. You’re almost there. By the time this airs, you’ll be even closer.
Yes, exactly. So that’s awesome. I help with dishes and, and daily things in the house. That’s awesome. What is she doing her dissertation on? Oh, she’s a medicinal chemistry, so a drug design and pharmacology. So designing the drugs and treatments. Lord of mercy. No big deal. No big deal. Much smart. Oh my Lord.
It gives me a headache just thinking about it. Gonna have a seizure. Would you rather go to LA or New York? I would go to LA because it’s kind of more diverse in terms of the, Like the countryside and the metro landscape. Yeah, the landscape, Yeah. New York is kind of like too packed for me, like too many people, I don’t disagree with you there.
Yeah. Have you ever been to New York? Have you been Of course, yeah. To LA and Yeah. Yeah, of course. New York is, yeah, they kind of just, yeah, it gave me a headache just looking all the way up. That, or a seizure point. Literally. There’s literally like lights everywhere. all over. Yeah. Times Square all over the.
Yeah, I would agree with that. Okay. Last one. Would you rather go camping in the woods or on the beach? I would love the woods. Yeah. I enjoy the woods. I’m a, I’m a beekeeper. . My father taught me this. You’re a beekeeper? Yes. Oh, this is a tidbit. Okay. From Did you grow up doing that? Yes. In pale. Yeah. My, our bees and everyone is like in pale.
That’s how I went to medical school because that’s how to pay for the tuitions we had from the honey. From a honey. Yeah. We had like a 150 beehives and it’s a project we make tons of honey and uh, all of them are just scattered in the hills of Palestine and they just go get all those diverse flowers and make a nice nectar and honey.
Yeah. Oh my word that, Do you have photos of that? That’s probably incredible. Yeah. So you have like 50, I don’t even know what to call them. They’re not hives, Are they like, They are, they’re just hives. Okay. Yeah. 150 be hives. Yeah. Oh my gosh. 150. Yeah. It’s a, I’m allergic to be, so it kind of gives me palpitations to think about, but just think about that.
Yeah. Sounds amazing. I get, I’m assuming like you just get the gear on and Yes. Instead of a scrubbing for like an or to go to the surgery, your scrub . Yeah, and I kinda like, I was bringing, like, even that time I was bringing like a, a b. Sting proof vests from, from a EPIs mall in, in, uh, in Georgia. from the United States way back in the day.
Yeah. And we make our own queens and we kind of have bloodlines from like Caucasians, ones from the middle, uh, European, and some Elic. From Italy, from uh, from, uh, from Australia, all of those like strains, and we kind of breed them together and make sure that we get a pure strain that it collects honey and like survive the winter.
And all of that’s kind of, it’s lots of science and things go. That’s amazing. Yeah. And then I’m just curious, where does this honey get sold? Oh, just, uh, by the word of mouth, all of, we just sell it ourselves and it’s, you know, it’s, it’s local. We just, uh, fill the market there and like we have more demand than we can supply.
Does your dad ship ? We can. Do you ship your honey? That sounds incredible. We don’t ship, but, uh, but definitely can, I can send you a sample myself. I would love, I would absolutely love a sample. I will happily share the sample. That sounds amazing. That is so fascinating. Well, beekeeping, There you go. Is it common in Palestine?
I’m just curious. Is that a common No, it’s, it’s a, it’s a dying art, but, uh, yeah. It’s not common in Palestine or, or the United States. We, it’s a rare thing and it needs so much expertise and persistence to learn all the things. So yeah. That’s why it’s not common, but it’s definitely, you know, it’s a good proficient to be in
Yeah. Is your dad still doing it currently? Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent still there. That’s amazing. And he sends, sends me honey to us and . Yeah. I love that. Good for him. Dying arts make me sad. Hopefully someone yeah. Learns from him and sticks with it cuz that’s amazing. That’s correct. Yeah. Okay. So what everyone wants to hear, although I get very passionate about delicious honey, cause I love honey, but post Covid neurological symptoms, this is an interesting, or complications is a better word.
Covid was so fascinating. I won’t even go into all of the, whatever people are sick of hearing about it. But it really was a crazy experience cuz I got. Experienced the taste and smell loss, and I just remember thinking how I had taken smell and taste for granted because it’s one of those senses that it’s like not quite as prominent as sight or hearing or even sense of like touch, but when I lost it, there were so many things that I realized I couldn’t do.
I’ll give one example. I realized how dependent I was on being able to smell. Dinner. Mm-hmm. . So I would do slow cooker recipes and I would, and then five hours later I’d realize I couldn’t smell it, and I would forget that I lost my taste of, I’m sorry, my sense of smell. And I would think, Do I have it? Did I ever start it?
Because I was so used to being able to determine, Oh yeah, it’s going cuz I can smell it. I mean that was just one example. There were so many things that I just didn’t even realize how much I relied on a sense of smell for, and I’m sure you are now, you know, helping to address this. So share with me some of the ongoing complications that you are seeing.
And again, for those that don’t realize this, the loss of smell and taste was actually a neurological complication of Covid. So just talk to us about the complications that you’re seeing still ongoing, especially with smell being a huge one and what people can do about it. Cause there is hope. This is the good.
Exactly. So yeah, when Covid 19 came in in March, 2020, I took it upon myself to understand Covid 19 in relation to the brain. So that day I called all of the centers in Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan, and we collected a collaborate shin between all of us and we started studying the effects and we did research and we, we published papers on that.
What we found is that covid can affect the brain in lots of many different. And it starts with, with the smell. With the smell is that the, all the smell, what we think of and the flavors of the food that we eat, all of them go to the nose and they get analyzed by the nerves, and then they go to the brain.
So it’s neurological, uh, in condition, uh, condition. And then also any smell, you know, if you have like, uh, conditions that Alzheimer disease or Parkinson’s, they start by degrading the brain and losing the smell. So smell is an important part. And we have smell. In Covid 19 and the treatment for smell loss is like you put that nerve back to physical therapy basically by doing a factory training, which is the smell therapy.
Basically you get to four packs of, uh, essential oils that you start smelling them twice a day in the morning at night, and you do that for three months and you get another pack for three months, another pack of three months. It takes long time to recover. And then after that, so when you say pack, explain pack.
So a pack of essential oil. So just like for a set of. Okay, I see what you saying. So for four different essential oil. So for people listening, that would be like peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus. Eucalyptus. I was trying to like spit another one. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, orange. Yeah. Get those, smell them. And twice at the end.
Then you, then if there is any like infection, sinusitis, allergy, treat, that helps the facilitator. And then after that, we had a center for Covid, 19 long haul. Symptoms, the neur, the long complications, and I was leading the neurology part of it. And we found there are so many neurological complications for covid, not just the smell loss.
And the most important thing is the brain fog. Brain fog, long haulers. What happened is that the, the person who have, uh, Covid 19, they would have thinking problems and, and after covid they start forgetting things. Even. They cannot multitask, They cannot listen to more than one conversation at that time.
They have like the words not coming out. So there’s. It’s on my table of the tip of my tongue, but I cannot see it. So it’s all of those like brain fog, concentration issues. They’re starting to lose their memory and not able to focus. All of those are neurological, and what happened is that there will be some inflammation happening in the brain.
The way I think of it is that there is like a hurricane hit the neighborhood. So the hurricane hit the neighborhood. The water is gone now, but the streets are full of branches, debris, dirt. You cannot really use them. And that’s what happens. The brain structure, all the connections, the small connections between the cells, that makes the memories and the networks that we do work with, all of them, they get disturbed here and there and there’ll be glitch in the network.
So you cannot like form the word or you cannot like remember something that you’re about to say. So it’s kind of like holding on a hand of sand and then the sand keeps slipping your finger. So my patient, like, she goes, she goes, uh, gets a new Ikea desk. Just, it needs like four steps to assemble the desk, go read the book, go back to the to the box, could not remember a word.
And then like, she had to do it, like watch a video multiple times to be able to do a simple task that used to be like without thinking before. And the same thing that happens to the brain. So the way we, we treat that. So it’s a, it’s a major condition and people who have it, if you don’t have it, you never think about that.
But if you do have brain fog after covid 19. It really affects your, your brain and how you work and your daily activities that you re, like, You’ll end up seeing doctors hopeful. So the way we do that, we retrain the memory, we retrain, make the connections back by, uh, we have a program called Cognitive Rehabilitation By speech therapy, we literally treat you how and teach you how to connect the work and connect the dots again, and learn how to talk and how to remember things.
Again, by doing listing, doing routines, and having goals. And everyone, every time we reach the goal, we go to the next. So that is the cognitive issues. And then also we have so many psychiatric conditions happens after Covid 19, I think of Covid is a kinda, it’s a gasoline on the fire. So if somebody has, if somebody has, has a tendency towards anxiety, somebody like anxious personality, like a little depressed and, but they’re doing well with life.
Then they get covid 19 and then it’s now full blown anxiety, full blown depression, full blown ptsd. And it’s kind of life-threatening experience, especially if somebody was hospitalized and, uh, they have, uh, now a condition and they need to be treated so that it helps other symptoms as well. And then, and the other thing that we notice a lot is headache.
Patients with Covid 19, they experience headaches as a condition, and then also they will continue to have headache afterwards. And what happened is that you have a headache. You take an aspirin or like Ibuprofen, Advil, and leave all of those painkillers. And then if you keep taking that for long time, every day, every day, every day, then your headache.
Will change to chronic daily headache, right? Because of taking too much medications. We call it medication, right? Over use headache . So it’s kind treating the problem and causing another problem. So we should always, uh, kinda consult with the doctors to treat those conditions. So it is very common to have neurological complications after covid 19 and, uh, and the first step is to recognize them so that you can seek the help that you need.
Mm-hmm. and I now, since December, 2020, I opened the clinic, specialize in covid 19 complications and uh, like the brain complications of covid 19. And I’ve been seeing so many patients and, uh, luckily everyone went through the clinic. They got better and they were graduated. So So they were graduated ? Yeah.
Post covid graduation. Yeah. Well not call it like discharge from the clinic or I call it graduation because they achieved all of their goals and they moved on. That’s amazing. Now I will throw this out. So I think one of the challenges, you know, it’s interesting when you talk about brain fog is we all know that this.
Especially hit the older population harder than maybe most. Obviously that depended on your preexisting medical conditions, et cetera. But generally speaking, the elderly were hit harder. This brain fog one is a challenging one because a lot of them probably had, may have had a small degree. Mm-hmm. of.
Memory issues or cognitive issues even before covid. And for people listening and watching, a lot of my audience has elderly parents that they are helping. Mm-hmm. . So I’m wondering for those people, How do they recognize in their elderly parent that maybe this brain fog is not just an exacerbation of a preexisting condition, especially because covid with the isolation of elderly people, definitely fed into.
Dementia and some of those cognitive cuz they were isolated for so long. So I guess I’m wondering, in your experience, what would be your advice to somebody who has aging parents, who is maybe seeing some of this? Yeah. How do they weed out, Oh, this might be covid and there’s rehab possibilities versus, this is ongoing dementia, Parkinson’s, fill in the.
Yes. That’s very interesting question and very smart. Thank you for the asking this question, . So, so the difference between, uh, post covid complication, which is brain fog and, and memory disturbance, is it will be mostly in the memory function. So they will be not able to remember few things here and there and will not be able to kind of multitask and hold on conversation and saying words.
So most of it is a higher function of memory. And dementia and, uh, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson, like those conditions will degrade the brain. So they call neurodegenerative means like they dedicate the brain with time. They will lose memory and they will lose functions as well. So they will not be able to take care of themselves.
They will not be able to drive, they will not be able to, to kind of even like do the basic, uh, daily activities. So that is the difference. And the other thing is, Post covid logical complication will get better with time. So a month or two or six months or one year, they will get better with time or they will just stay static.
Like they will just stay the way they are. But dementia, uh, because it is a neurodegenerative process, they will get worse with time. So now they kinda like cannot remember the name of their grandchildren and now they cannot remember what they ate for the morning. And now they cannot even like, you know, put in the buttons.
Right. Or they don’t know how to tie a tie. Sounds like me this morning. . Yikes. . Yeah. I’m coming over. Yeah. And, and when we do, when we see the neurologist, we do evaluation. And one of the evaluations that we kind of check the memory and one of the quick memory evaluations we do is moca material cognitive assessment.
So moca is a ative cognitive as it’s just all the different functions of memory. And we will see deficits, we will see issues with, uh, you know, higher cognitive functions in patients with dementia and memory, progressive memory loss, rather than if they have post covid, usually they will come back normal.
And then interesting. What would, Is there one or two questions that you can give as an example for somebody assessing their elderly? Loved one. Loved one. Yeah. Interesting. So how we can do mock at home. So , what I would do is that we’ll give them five words to remember and then, so give them the words that we use is, uh, is like face, velvet, church daisy and red.
So those are the five words that we use. So five words. Give them the five words and then distract their brain because they have to hold on them. So when you distract their brain, they have to be ingrained in, in a brain area, the hippocampus to be retrieved back. So distract them over five minutes, Let them do other things.
Let them talk about the what they did today, and then ask them about those five words later on, so the delayed recall, and see if they can remember all the five words. Usually they will forget one or two out of the five, and if you give them a queue, If they have dementia, usually they cannot get it back.
If they do have, uh, post covid just memory loss, they can get it back. So as I, as I went back, so I told in that face, I was like, Oh, it was a body part. And then they, Oh, this was a face, so this could, so that means that what I said at the beginning, the streets are there. But there’s debris in them. So we, if you take a back road, then you can get it.
So always our memories are connected to things that we know before. Mm-hmm. . So if we say, like, if we say like coffees, like, oh, coffees like grain beans and like, you know, like a coffee machine, the place we drink coffee in and the social situation, we get coffee, the creamer, all of those are connected together.
So any new information about coffee will be stored with. Long list of things that we know already. So that’s kinda, we chapter everything and we store it in junks and that’s how we remember things. And then if you tell them like it’s a body part, they should remember it and bring it back. So if they do that, probably they have uh, you know, just an post covid memory, brain fog.
If not, then probably they might have damage. But this is like very rough. Don’t make diagnosis of your parents. Absolutely. I mean, neurologist. Exactly. Obviously the key is this needs to be evaluated, but. Again, empowering you with information to understand the difference and to help a loved one who might be trying to figure out and.
Just assuming that this is, you know, Covid isolation or a progression of dementia or whatever is evaluating that ultimately they should be able to, with some prompting, recall those five, those five words. So press rewind, listen again to what Dr. Omar just said. This is a great way to just sort of help you assess your loved one as well.
Um, and maybe. Prompt some questions on your next doctor’s visit, if there’s ways that they can try to improve. Let’s also talk about the taste one more time and the smell, I should say. So I wanna reiterate again that that was four different essential oil. Smells. And if I, so you can correct me if I’m wrong here because when I was, I was like, Man, I hope this does not last.
Cuz some peoples lasted a long, long time, like smell like a year and a half later. Thankfully mine did not last that long. But I was doing research myself really quickly cuz I was like, man, if I can’t taste stuff again, life is gonna be miserable. I love food. So one of the things that I had read is that when doing those smells, like you said, you’re almost re exercising a muscle, which in this case is a nerve.
Yeah. And I was reading that studies were showing too, that when you, before you even smell it, you want to cognitively think. About the smell, almost try to recall. What it is that you’re about to smell. So I say that only to suggest if you have absolutely no earthly idea what eucalyptus smells like, , maybe try to get ones that are familiar to you that you can, like cinnamon orange, certainly mint or peppermint, but smells that you can also be forcing your brain to try to recall as your.
Smelling them. I don’t know if you’ve seen any benefit to that or not. I thought that was so fascinating. We want to immerse ourself in the experience and every time we smell a, uh, a lemon or uh, pepper. Oh yeah, lemon be another good one. Yeah. So we immerse ourselves like we will like close our eyes, smell it for 20 seconds, and imagine like how the lemon was smelling and what is my emotions about millon, what all of the experiences that we had.
So this is kind of recalling those areas. It’s kinda like sparking, sparking, sparking electricity until it connects back. And then the worst thing is that I, in my experience with smell is Persia. So Persia is that the nerves will go back and connect, but they will connect in the wrong place. Wow. Boy. Like if this happens to you, it is serious.
So what happened is that people are trying to smell. Flowers or eat chicken. And then instead of going to the flowers area of the brain or the chicken area of the brain, it’ll go to the rotten cabbage. Yeah. And everything will start to smell rotten bad food. And this is called Persia. And really it’s, it’s a bad complication after Covid 19.
And we really need to do a lot of work to retrain the brain to go back to the normal connections and. More serious than smell loss. I forgot about that one. I’m glad that you said that. I did not experience that. So what is the treatment? And he has really good videos, by the way. Yeah. On. You can certainly press rewind as many times as you need to, whether you’re listening or watching this on YouTube.
But he also has great videos breaking down a lot of this. But for Persia, is the treatment similar? Yes. So the treatment for paras is that, first of all, we have to make sure that we don’t have any infection in the, in the nose or anything, AB absence or something causing that. And then the, the treatment will be doing the essential oil treatment and the basically the oil factory training, which is the smell therapy all the time, a lot of times.
And we can do nose clips because, What happened is that uh, every time you eat something, like you eat a bite of chicken, and then all of that will go to the nose, and then they will go to the brain and get explained in the brain. If you have the flavors, then it will go to the brain and you start feeling it yucky, uh, smell.
And then what happens is that if you close your nose, With a nose clip, swimmers nose clip, then you cannot feel anything of your flavors and you just eat the food without being disturbed. Cuz people are now like, really, Some people are struggling with this and they’re everything. They eat it, it tastes like very rotten or chemical so they could, could not eat and they like lost so much weight because of that.
So I recommend nose clip. And then journaling all the things that, uh, that makes like you smell that something smells bad or not. And sometimes if you power through, it means like you have few bites of ice cream and it smells bad, smells bad, keep doing it. It sometimes will neutralize the smell and, and gets used to it.
So just, just power through it. So see what works for you And for YouTube, Yes, I have a playlist about, Long haulers into some, some of the videos are unlisted because now I focus only on epilepsy in my channel. But if you go to the playlists and all of them are there, so that’s your secret way , how to get into my, all the smell into the back end of of Covid.
Yes. And for the essential oils, how often are you recommending? So there’s the four. So do that. You are smelling, How often are you doing that? A day. So you do the smell. So here open the, the, the oil, smell it for 20 seconds, and then give it the brain one minute to adapt and, and to experience. And then the second one, 20 seconds.
And then the third one. And until you finish the four morning and night. Every single day. That’s why we use essential oils, because they just open it and just start using it. Otherwise, we used to do before like chop onions and chop, uh, lemons and it’s a process. So much work. Yeah. Yeah. So much work. And that can be the hurdle, you know, prevents you from doing it easily.
So just like decrease the resistance at the beginning so that you get into the habit of doing it consistently. The good news is that about 90% of people, With smell loss, they will regain their smell or part of it by four weeks. Okay? So that’s important thing that if you lose your smell, you usually get back in four weeks.
If you don’t, then three to six months, the majority like, you know, five to 7%, so like 95, 97. If you have zero smell. In six months, zero, like no hint of any smell that is the only poor prognosis means that the bad outlook that’s gonna, it’s not gonna improve or will take very, very, very long time. I have only one patient with that condition like that.
They, they lost their smell and they have zero hints of any smell for more than six months, and they, they’re still suffering for like a month, a year and a half or two now. But, you know, eventually, eventually things will click, but, uh, but it’s a long way. So be patient. Yes. Well anyway, just to recap that really quick.
Four essential oils. I’m throwing out lemon, lavender, mint, cinnamon, orange, maybe some, uh, familiar ones. I have, uh, in my videos I have on the description, like all the different oils and uh, where you can get there. Backend, just for our listeners. Yes, exactly. Just that. If you go down to the, to the like description of the video, you’ll have all the oils, all like even links to where you get them.
You’ll have the links to all of the oils, and then you are un capping them. You’re screwing off the lid. That’s, and then you are wafting it under your nose for 20 seconds, just one of them. And then you stop for one minute, let your brain process it, remember what it smelled like, experience it, and then you do it with the second one.
20 minutes. Stop for a minute. You do that four times. Once in the morning, once in the evening. This is your official prescription from Dr. Omar and myself. ? Yes. I’m not prescribing things anymore, but that is his prescription. Yes. That’s what I, Where can people find you? I mean, you are, like I have said, I’ve worked with many neurologists and I’ve loved this.
I could talk for hours about neurological things, but especially for epilepsy. And anyone that they may know who has it, I would love for them to be connected to you because it is such a specialty and it is one that people need to understand. So where can people find you? So it depends on, uh, on how long and short you, you prefer.
So I Perfect. So if you want like small bites, I, I am on Instagram and TikTok for like small bites of information. And if you need like long conversations. Depth of knowledge. Learn the condition very in, in very details, and answer all the questions that you may have in details. Then you’ll find me on YouTube.
Uh, so Dr. Omar, the noon, like noon time, the noon. That’s how I say my name, . And then I am also a Twitter and Facebook. So any, any platform that you like, you’ll find me there. So interact with me. Leave me a comment, tag me, hashtag me, anything you want, and then we’ll love to get connected and learn more about epilepsy.
Yeah, if you throw me a comment on YouTube, a definitely. And for those of you who are blog readers, he, his website is excellent as well. Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah. I have our website. Yep, yep. And we’ll make sure all of these links are in the show notes on the website, or if you’re watching on YouTube, of course.
It’s all, all below. It was an honor to have you at Pregos Blessing Over Your Wife. She’s almost done with her dissertation Over your business, over your Sweet Boys. And thank you for you’ve blessed many. I have no doubt. It was an honor to have you. Thank you so much for having me. It was honored to talk to you and, and share my experience with your audience.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I would love to hear your thoughts from today, head to your preferred podcasting platform, and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined, only redeveloped, one imperfect day at a time.
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