How Parosmia Causes Enjoyable Scents to Become Intolerable after COVID

The Doctors

Health experts continue to unravel the various effects COVID-19 has on our bodies -- including the troubling condition of parosmia, which distorts how things smell, sometimes making items that you once found pleasant to smell putrid.

According to The New York Times, up to 47 percent of people who have recovered from the virus have seen a change in the way things smell and taste, and approximately half of those people develop parosmia.

Samantha, who fully recovered from COVID, told the NYT around 7 months after having fought the virus that smells she previously enjoyed like take out food, food being cooked, candles, now caused her to feel ill and even vomit.

“I stopped going places, even to my mom’s house or to dinner with friends, because anything from food to candles smelled so terrible,” she says. “My relationships are strained.” She goes on to explain that she even finds the smell of her own body off putting, along with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.

Dr. Richard Doty, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania, explains this condition usually goes away in a few months for most patients, but in the meantime, the distortion of smell can be intense. He notes that "a rose might smell like feces” if you are dealing with parosmia.

 The NYT also spoke to other people dealing with parosmia, who share it has affected their relationships with family and friends and intimacy levels with their partners.

Jessica, who has had COVID twice, shares, “I feel like my breath is rancid all the time... [and] my sweat, I can smell it, and it’s altered a bit,” revealing it has affected how she kisses her husband. 

And for other parosmia sufferers, they are often told they are overreacting and many feel as though their condition is not being taken seriously. This has lead to support groups like Covid Anosmia/Parosmia Support Group and the AbScent group being created and have seen their member numbers grow into the thousands.

Find out what The Doctors think about the online claim that smelling a charred orange can help reboot your sense of smell and taste for people who have fought COVID.

More: Are You 'Quaradreaming'? These Tips Can Help You Sleep

More: Encouraging News about the Risk of COVID Reinfection

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