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Parosmia After COVID-19: What Is It & How Long Will It Last?

Jan 10, 2022

One of the earlier warning signs of COVID-19 disease was a loss of taste and smell. Though most patients recover from this, some report they now experience an unpleasant new symptom called parosmia.

It’s a condition where otherwise normal smells now smell unpleasant or even disgusting. According to the Health University of Utah, to someone with parosmia, smells such as coffee or fruit smells like garbage, rotten meat or eggs or ammonia. 

parosmia after covid-19: what is it & how long will it last?Photo via Sky News

What is parosmia?

Richard Orlandi, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Physician and professor in the Department of Surgery at University of Utah Health said: “Parosmia can be caused by a number of things such as respiratory infections, seizures, and even brain tumors. We’ve noticed since the pandemic more COVID-recovered patients now report this symptom.”

However, very little is understood about the relationship COVID-19 and parosmia. It may not seem as urgent as other long-term symptoms of COVID such as heart problems, depression and other respiratory illnesses… but, physicians say it can be problematic. 

“Your sense of smell is important,” Orlandi says. “It’s what helps you enjoy food and sense danger, as in the case of smoke. It’s connected to our memories, such as the way your mom or grandma’s perfume smells. Dispensing on the severity, this condition can range from an annoyance to a frustrating and anxiety-inducing symptom,” he added. 

How long does parosmia last?

It’s not known exactly why COVID-19 leads to parosmia…

parosmia after covid-19: what is it & how long will it last?Photo via The Independent

But it’s believed that most people who experience this symptom also experienced a loss of taste and smell while they were sick.

It’s also unknown how long it lasts. One study suggests the condition can last up to six month, but the average duration is around three month. 

What is the treatment for parosmia?

While there is no known treatment for COVID-19-induced parosmia, some believe so-called smell therapy may help…

This process involves smelling strong scents such as citrus, perfume, or eucalyptus each day to retrain the brain to “remember” how to smell. But more study is needed to know if this therapy actually works.

However, doctors are hopeful that in a majority of cases, a normal sense of smell will return in time. Orlandi says: “This is just one of the many long-term symptoms doctors and researchers are studying. 

“All we really know is that the majority of patients do experience a return of their normal senses of taste and smell, but it’s unclear if and how many patients will get fully back to normal,” he added. 

By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat

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