Sense of smell

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many people who contract COVID-19 temporarily lose their sense of taste or smell, but doctors said some patients are dealing with a more unsettling symptom: they detect the wrong smells.

Doctors said Parosmia is a smelling disorder that was around before COVID-19, but since the pandemic, there has been a dramatic spike in cases.

Patients with the condition are able to detect smells, but somewhere between the nerves in the nose and the nerves in the brain, the signals get distorted. That means a patient sniffing a rose might instead smell smoke — or worse — raw sewage.

The condition ranges in severity. For some, it's simply an annoyance, but other patients said food smells so bad they lose their appetite.

"It causes a negative kind of aversion affect where they don't want to eat," explained Dr. Kevin Potts, an associate professor at the UofL School of Medicine. "They lose weight, and it can be a big, big deal for patients."

The good news is in many cases, this goes away within six months, but for some rare patients, the condition can be permanent.

Potts said any treatments are experimental, but nasal sprays and aromatherapy are some options patients are trying.

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