It has been widely reported that during an active COVID infection people often lose their sense of smell and taste. It has been one of the signature telltale symptoms. But what isn’t being shared is that even after many recover, this problem can linger. Worse yet, it can mutate and become hugely problematic for those who are left with this reminder.
Parosmia is a disorder caused by a viral infection (such as Covid) where their receptors become damaged, and they develop a smell disorder. If you thought no sense of smell was bad, what if you woke up one morning and scents you know and loved – as simple as lemon and coffee suddenly smelled like rotting flesh and dirt?
This is the disturbing reality many are living in right now.
When smell and taste are distorted to this extent it’s not just annoying it’s a problem when it comes to being able to eat. Meats, vegetables, even fruits – can become so grossly nonpalatable that many are finding themselves at a loss as to what to even try to eat. This can lead to reduced appetite, depression, weight loss, or gain if the only foods you can stomach are high-fat high sugar junk foods. This bizarre affliction can make you feel like you have an eating disorder and very much mess with your mental wellbeing.
Along with the problems associated with eating these individuals can no longer smell burning food, smoke, or gas – which can put their lives in danger. It also introduces the problem of not being able to tell if food is legitimately spoiled or rotten which could lead to food poisoning.
These phantom smells have been described as:
- Rotten meat
- Old garbage
- Old gym socks
- Sickly sweet cheap perfume
As of a survey in June of 2021 it was found that roughly 10% of those who had covid ended up with some level of parosmia. Half gradual onset and half sudden onset of symptoms.
The most common foods that triggered these awful tastes and smells were:
There are online support groups that have formed on social media where sufferers can find support and others who are able to relate to this crazy affliction. Parosmia isn’t something that can be fully understood unless you have the unfortunate luck to experience it. Especially in this high inflation economy none of us have extra money to waste on foods we simply cannot eat. This is a major issue for those affected.
The big question – How long does this state of being last?
Covid induced parosmia can gradually fade with time. It can take months or even years to see improvement.
In surveys done, 49.3 percent reported that their parosmia improved within 3 months. The remaining 50.7 percent said their parosmia lasted over 3 months. The average time is 3.4 months and can range from 9 days to 6 months.
Why it happens
It’s possible that infection with the coronavirus damages the receptors and nerves involved with our sense of smell. While this damage can often be repaired over time, it may cause some disruption in how we perceive odors.
Is there any help? What is the treatment?
Smell training is recommended – Essential oils used are lemon, rose, clove, and eucalyptus. Smell them for 20 seconds each at least twice per day. You can add in any others you so choose. This has had minor success.
Avoid foods and smells that trigger you. Do not force foods that taste putrid it will only make you miserable. Try to get enough protein, even if it means using alternate sources such as pea protein or pumpkin, or soy. Trial and error. Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep so your body can work on the repair. Most importantly don’t lose hope.
As you may have guessed, I am one of the not-so-lucky ones who is dealing with this crazy affliction. I would like to invite you to the Facebook group I am in so you can share your experiences as well Loss of Taste and Smell from Covid-90 Days or Longer | Facebook.
It has been 5 months post covid for me personally. I lost sense of smell and taste completely for a week during the infection and though it returned to nearly normal afterward, normal quickly faded away. I first noticed something was off in eating tangerines. I thought for sure they had sprayed them with some chemical and I kept trying to wash it off. As it turns out it was the citrus oil in the rhine I was smelling.
From there more and more foods started tasting off and then it moved into smelling like dead zombie vomit at best. I had been stuck in this nasty smell/taste zone for a couple of months. I was getting depressed and anxious from it as I was having a very hard time eating enough. I would go to bed hungry and wake up starving. I have been tracking calories to make sure I eat enough.
MIRACULOUSLY – last night my husband bought a new coffee and asked me to smell the grounds. I was just humoring him and did. I was shocked – I could smell it! A few hours later I realized I could also stomach the smell of citrus again! I then went on a sniffing rampage around the house smelling anything and everything I could get my hot little hands on. Much of it I could smell! Things I hadn’t smelled in months!
I did notice that if I breathed in too hard, I would smell the item PLUS the rotten smell… So, I decided to take the win and back off. I don’t know if the coffee triggered something, or it was just time for it to repair and coincidence. I do know coffee beans and grounds are used to clear the nose when perfume shopping, maybe it did actually help? It sure cannot hurt to try! I would love to hear about your experiences.
All I can say is I HOPE this newfound sense of smell stays. It’s still shaky, almost like learning how to walk again but I’ll take it!
I’ll report back shortly.
UPDATE: It didn’t really stick. Things are still mutating. I have been told there is a protocol of vitamin B shots found in Mexico………. I am looking into it!