Parosmia after Covid: What is parosmia?

Dr Hilary reveals how long it takes to get smell back after covid

Health authorities are tackling rising Covid cases across the country thanks to a new, highly infectious strain of the virus, now killing more people every day. The new threat has crammed hospitals full of patients and threatens to overwhelm them. But the effects of Covid now extend further than those fighting it off now, as many people are still dealing the “long Covid” and a sensation named parosmia.

What is parosmia?

Researchers have identified a chain of potential symptoms for Covid, as people report some increasingly strange symptoms.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, namely the nose and throat, and can deprive people of their sense of smell.

The latest evidence suggests the disease can also cause the opposite and create unpleasant smells as well.

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Parosmia refers to this phenomenon, as people report unpleasant odours months after contracting Covid-19.

The “long-Covid” effects may produce smells like sulphur, fish, burnt toast or sickly sweet.

Nirmal Kumar, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon and professor at Edge Hill University Medical School, was among the first people to identify anosmia – the loss of sense of smell.

Professor Kumar urged Public Health England (PHE) to add it to their symptoms list long before they did so.

He said the symptoms of parosmia were “very strange and unique”.

The professor added he had noted an increased incidence of the new sensation, which he said seemed to have a higher incidence among health workers and young people.

He said: “This morning I saw two patients with parosmia.

“One said they could smell fish in place of any other scent, and the other can smell burning when there is no smoke around.”

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“Both are healthcare workers, and we think there is increased incidence in young people and also in healthcare workers because of exposure to the virus in hospitals.

“For some people, it is really upsetting them.”

Those who suffer from parosmia have said it lessens their enjoyment of food and alters the smell of other odorous objects.

If added to PHE’s official guidance, parosmia would become the fourth symptom of the disease.

The other of Covid include:

  • A high temperature (38C+) or hot to the touch on the chest or back
  • A new continuous cough (continuous being coughing a lot for more than an hour or three or more coughing episodes in a day)
  • A loss or change to the sense of smell

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