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Parosmia, A Lingering Symptom Of COVID-19 That Causes Phantom Odors

Parosmia is a distortion of smell, so aromas like fresh coffee or of a romantic partner may become unpleasant under this condition

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

INDIA: Recovery from COVID-19 isn’t something that can be necessarily sustained, a review suggests that traces of COVID-19 linger long after recovery from infection of the virus. This condition was found to be shared by many who were previously infected with COVID-19. The condition is called parosmia and is believed to be a post-effect of the virus.

Samantha LaLiberte, a social worker in Nashville, Tennessee, was tested positive for COVID-19 in May 2020. Slowly the COVID-19 symptoms began to fade and she thought she had made a full recovery.

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But in mid-November, a takeout order smelled so foul to her that she had to dispose of it. In another incident, when she stopped by the house of a friend who was cooking, she ran outside and vomited. Samantha stopped going to her mom’s house or for dinners, because from food to candles, everything that previously smelled enjoyable, was now intolerable for her.

Also Read: Healthcare Personnel Forced To Continue Working While Positive For COVID-19

Effects of Parosmia

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Parosmia is a distortion of smell, so aromas like fresh coffee or of a romantic partner may become unpleasant under this condition. It is safe to say that along with a diminished sense of smell, or anosmia, it is a symptom that has lingered with some people who have recovered from COVID-19.

A recent study found that 47% of people with COVID-19 had changes in smell and taste, and of those, about half reported developing parosmia. However, people typically recover their smell within months.

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Right now, LaLiberte finds it tough to stand the smell of her own body. Showering, the smell of her body wash, conditioner and shampoo made her sick.

What’s more, she has been avoiding tactility with her husband too. Dr. Duika Burges Watson, who leads the Altered Eating Research Network at Newcastle University in England says that it is a much bigger issue than people give it credit for. The condition has been affecting relationships with oneself, others, and intimate social relationships.

Many sufferers of parosmia mourn the loss of social customs, going out to dinners or not being able to be tactile towards their loved ones, considering how an already-isolating year has mentally exhausted everybody.

Some parosmia victims have turned to Facebook groups to share advice regarding the problem and vent to people who can relate to their symptoms. “I went to the doctor, and the doctor legitimately looked at me like I was a crazy person,” said Jenny Banchero, 36, an artist in St. Petersburg, Florida, who was detected with parosmia since early September. “It wasn’t until I joined a Facebook Group that I learned people take this seriously.”

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