What is parosmia and what triggers the Covid-19 post-recovery condition

Coronavirus survivors often witness distorted sense of smell. (Representative image, Reuters)

Covid-10 patients are now associating themselves with varied kinds of symptoms that stays even after the person has recovered. Loss of smell (anosmia) and taste were some of the prominent signs of Covid-19, but some people are also experiencing parosmia i.e. a change in perception of odour.

Covid-toe and Covid-tongue are some of the other unusual disorders that are haunting coronavirus infected patients.

What is parosmia

Parosmia is a condition in which affected individuals experience distorted or changed sense of smell i.e their perception of smell is different from the ordinary perception of smell and sometimes pleasant odours might smell unpleasant to them.

For example, the smell of coffee that appears to be hair raising and pleasing to most can come as unpleasant like the smell of a burnt toast. According to Fifth Sense, a charity that deals will people affected with taste and smell disorder. Some of the individuals perceive these smells like chemicals, faeces, rotting flesh, something burning or mould.

What causes a distorted sense of smell?

Parosmia happens to people who are recovering from the state of loss of smell after being infected by a virus or an injury, says AbScent, a charity registered in England. However, the condition is temporary and not harmful in itself. The conditions can stay for several weeks during the recovery phase and can cause deviation in daily habits from food choices, to loss of appetite for food that triggers certain smells. Parosmia can also affect the patient’s relationship with others and even affect mental health.

Some of the common triggers of this condition are the odour of toasted or grilled food, chocolate, coffee, eggs, garlic and onions. Anosmia is caused when the virus damages the olfactory sensory neurons while parosmia is the path to recovery.

COVID-19, parosmia and treatment found

Recent studies have found several patients post-recovery is still associated with parosmia. A report published in the journal Nature finds that nearly half of the Covid-19 patients reported parosmia that stayed at least six months in most cases. However, the study also suggests that parosmia can be a positive sign of recovery of the sense of smell or the olfactory sensory neuron.

No cure or medication has been found for the condition but some relief can come from “smell training.”. However, if the condition becomes more disabling than the loss of smell or as the only symptom that specific treatment like nasal drops or tablets can be prescribed says the Smell and Taste Clinic of UK’s James Paget Hospital.

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