Your Parosmia Guide 101

Parosmia is a COVID-related side effect that distorts your sense of smell, and it’s becoming more common.

A loss of taste and smell was one of the first indicators of COVID-19 sickness. The majority of patients recover, but some report developing an unpleasant new ailment termed parosmia.

It’s a situation in which normally pleasant odors become unpleasant or even terrible. Coffee or fruit, for example, may smell like garbage, decaying meat or eggs, or ammonia to someone with parosmia.

Parosmia is a medical name for a disorder that causes your sense of smell to be distorted. If you have parosmia, you may notice a reduction in scent intensity, which means you won’t be able to identify the entire variety of aromas around you.

Things you come into contact with on a daily basis may appear to have a strong, undesirable odor due to parosmia. Parosmia is commonly mistaken with phantosmia, a condition in which you detect a “phantom” aroma when there isn’t one present.

People with parosmia are unique in that they may identify an odour that is present, but it smells “wrong” to them. Parosmia and phantosmia can be quite upsetting, and they can be much harder to deal with than absolute scent loss.

The good news is that parosmia is thought to be a sign that the ability to smell is returning. Recovery and passage through this phase can take a long time, yet it is a period.

The signs of Parosmia

The majority of cases of parosmia show up after you’ve recovered from an infection. The severity of the symptoms varies from instance to case.

The predominant symptom of parosmia is a persistent bad stench, which is especially noticeable when food is present. Damage to your olfactory neurons may also make it harder for you to recognize or notice certain scents in your environment.

Scents that used to be enjoyable may now be overwhelming and intolerable. You might feel nauseous or sick if you try to consume something that smells terrible to you.


Parosmia usually occurs after your scent-detecting neurons also called your olfactory senses have been harmed due to a virus or other health illness. These neurons line your nose and inform your brain how to simplify the chemical information that develops a smell of the human body. Impairing these neurons differs the way smells reach out to your brain.

The olfactory bulbs beneath the front of your brain acquire signals from these neurons and transfer to your brain an indication about the aroma: whether it’s pleasant, bad odor, fresh, or foul. These olfactory bulbs can be impaired, which can cause parosmia.

  • Trauma to the head or the brain: Olfactory impairment has been linked to traumatic brain injury (TBI). While the duration and degree of the damage vary depending on the accident, parosmia symptoms following a TBI are not uncommon, according to a study of medical literature.

TBI can also cause olfactory nerve fibers to be sheared at the cribriform plate, resulting in a loss of taste and smell. Damage from a seizure can potentially induce brain trauma, resulting in parosmia.

  • Infection caused by bacteria or viruses: Olfactory damage from a cold or virus is one source of parosmia symptoms. The olfactory neurons can be damaged by upper respiratory infections. This is more common among older people.
  • Smoking abuse: The olfactory system can be harmed by smoking cigarettes. Cigarette carcinogens and chemicals can develop parosmia over time. Exposure to harmful substances and excessive levels of air pollution can produce parosmia for the same reason.
  • Cancer treatment: Parosmia can be caused by radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Disorders of the nervous system: A loss of tase and smell is one of the early indications of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Smell sensitivity is also affected by Lewy body dementia and Huntington’s disease.
  • Tumors: Changes in your sense of smell can be caused by tumors on the olfactory bulbs, the frontal cortex, and the sinus cavities. Parosmia is a rare complication of tumors. People with tumors are more likely to experience phantosmia, which is the detection of a scent that isn’t present due to a tumor stimulating the olfactory senses.
  • Covid-19: While COVID-19 has been linked to a loss of taste and smell (anosmia) in certain persons, parosmia can also occur after the virus has been infected. It’s considered that the virus wreaks havoc on the olfactory system, and that long-term damage might alter how you smell.

Also Read : New Variant of Covid Concern: Omicron

The link between Parosmia and Covid-19 

The cause of COVID-19-induced parosmia is unknown. It’s thought that the majority of people who have this symptom also have a loss of taste and smell while they’re unwell. It is also not determined how long it will endure. According to one study, the illness can persist for up to six months, but the average is three months.

Many cases reported saw the symptoms of Parosmia amidst covid-19 recovery. Such cases suggest that parosmia could be a long-term side effect of COVID-19. COVID-19–related parosmia is unusual, according to the researchers of this study, and other medical specialists say that parosmia following COVID-19 is an indication that your olfactory system is recuperating.

Because the implications of this coronavirus on your olfactory system are still being studied, it’s vital to be aware that data on short- and long-term impacts on your sense of smell is still being gathered. Similarly, parosmia part of your COVID-19 rehabilitation can be challenging because it might alter your appetite and enjoyment of particular meals. You might also think about talking about this to your doctor. 

Tips to treat Parosmia

Some cases of parosmia can be cured, but not all. If environmental factors, medicine, cancer treatment, or smoking caused your parosmia, your sense of smell may return to normal once those triggers are removed. Parosmia can sometimes be treated with surgery. Obstructions in the nose, such as polyps or tumors, may require surgery. So, how to get your smell back? 

To prove that these are more beneficial than placebo, more studies and case studies are needed. If your parosmia persists and is affecting your appetite and weight, you may benefit from olfactory training therapy. This sort of therapy, often known as “smell training,” entails sniffing four different types of odors for up to 15 seconds each. For several months, the process is repeated twice a day. You’ll need to consult with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you. Here are suggestions that would tell how to get your smell back? 

  • Add zinc and Vitamin A to your diet
  • Cool or room-temperature foods are best.
  • Avoid fried foods, roasted meats, onions, garlic, eggs, coffee, and chocolate, which are common parosmia trigger foods.
  • Rice, noodles, and untoasted bread are all good options. Many people enjoy steamed vegetables and plain yogurt.
  • If you’re having trouble eating, try unflavored protein drinks.
  • Order groceries online if it is available in your area to avoid having to go to the grocery.
  • Use of castor oil or smell therapy
  • Ginger has a unique, pungent scent that makes it an excellent choice for smell training. This can be done with either powdered or raw ginger.


There are minor or rare chances that a person may suffer from parosmia in their life but this condition made it to the news after the coronavirus pandemic happened. There is a lot of research going on but few cases have been observed where patients are going through a loss of taste and smell. They are also facing foul smell even with normal foods or scent. 

Research Studies are still coping to analyze how prevalent parosmia after COVID-19 actually is. A survey established results that out of the 1,299 patient respondents, 140 of them (10.8 percent) were having parosmia symptoms after getting positive for Covid-19.

The same research clarified that half of these people reported a sudden arrival of parosmia cases in humans, while the other half reported a normal initial phase onset.


Photo of author

Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.