The Bizarre COVID Side Effect No One Talks About
Burnt toast. That’s the smell that lingers in my olfactory senses. Constantly. Pervasively. It’s been hanging there for months now, even though no one has burned toast around here for who knows how long.
Parosmia may not be something you’ve heard of, but it just might be something you’re dealing with if you’ve had COVID. Parosmia is a condition where people have strange and often unpleasant smell distortions. I’m dealing with a similar condition called phantosmia, it’s an olfactory hallucination that makes you detect smells that aren’t really there. They’re not pleasant smells. Burnt toast. Rotten cabbage. Spoiled milk. Perhaps most common is some unidentifiable chemical smell. If this is your experience, it will help knowing you’re not alone.
We probably all know someone who has lost their sense of smell as a side effect of COVID. In fact, studies show as many as 86-percent of COVID-positive patients have had at least temporary smell loss. But ten-percent of us have smell loss or distortion that lasts a month or longer after recovery.
I tested positive for COVID on Christmas Eve. I was sick, but not dangerously so. At first, I thought it was a typical cold until I sat down to dinner and couldn’t taste a thing. That’s when I knew I had the virus. The lack of taste lingered for about a month. Sometimes I would forget that my taste was off or gone all together. I made a lemon pasta and it was so bland that I kept adding more citrus. After juicing and zesting a half dozen lemons, I gave up and presented the dish on the dinner table. Check out this video…no one could take a bite of their linguine without shivering. Well, no one but our daughter Grace. You’ll notice in the snippet that she lost her taste too.
I have probably 90 percent of my taste buds in working order. Two months post-COVID, my sense of smell is still all jacked up. Just last week, my husband walked in the house and was about knocked over by the smell of natural gas. He asked if I was trying to blow up the house. I couldn’t smell a thing. I knew it was bad when I sat at the dining room table to do our morning show and the only way I realized the dog had an accident was when I felt it squish between my toes. Gradually, I’m regaining some sense of smell, but my biggest complaint is that phantosmia. I smell burnt toast all dang day.
I have lost two uncles and a step-uncle to COVID. My former boss died because of it. I’ve sent out at least a dozen sympathy cards to friends who have lost their loved ones in this pandemic. I know I’m blessed to come out the other side with just a silly and annoying side effect. If burnt toast is all I have to deal with, bring it on.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.