As researchers continue to study the deadly virus known as COVID-19, coronavirus “long haulers’ are beginning to experience a new symptom, a strange sense of smell attributed to parosmia.
Although it has yet to make it onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of COVID-19 related symptoms, parosmia is defined by the National Institution of Health as a shift in “perception of odors” such as when a pleasant smell of something “now smells foul.”
Dr. Susan Shin, an assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital, previously elaborated on the sense of smell to Fox News.
“There are two sensory systems in our nose. We are able to detect pleasant fragrances by way of the olfactory nerve, whereas dangerous, toxic smells are detected by the trigeminal nerve.”
“The trigeminal nerve is likely more resilient to effects of a viral pathogen compared to the olfactory nerve because we need it to detect dangers in our environment, such as smelling smoke from a fire.”
According to Sky News, Professor Nirmal Kumar referred to the unpleasant, fishy odor as something “very strange and very unique.”
She mentioned to the outlet that thousands of patients in the U.K. are undergoing treatment for other coronavirus-related symptoms and are now experiencing the displeasing odor affiliated with parosmia. She also explained that patients’ deceptive sense of smell is a result of “olfactory hallucinations.”
“This virus has an affinity for the nerves in the head and, in particular, the nerve that controls the sense of smell,” the professor told the outlet. “But it probably affects other nerves too, and it affects, we think, neurotransmitters — the mechanisms that send messages to the brain.”
“What this means is the virus is affecting the nerves in the roof of the nose — it’s like a shock to your nervous system, and the nerves aren’t functioning,” Kumar added, per Independent.
Chrissi Kelly, a board member of a U.K. charity that supports smell disorder, has informed individuals who suffer from parosmia to “avoid foods triggering unpleasant smells.”
She also suggests that they “eat room temperature or cold foods to tamp down on rising smells, and to opt for simple, bland foods like rice and pasta in the meantime.”