Unpleasant smells are another COVID side effect


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Some people who get infected with COVID experience a loss of smell and taste. Now doctors are seeing some of those patients experience extremely unpleasant smells from things like dish soap, spaghetti sauce and smoke.

“I’ve heard people talk about burning rubber,” says Yale Medicine sinus surgeon R. Peter Manes who is also an associate professor of surgery with Yale School of Medicine.

Some people say common things smell like rotting smoky garbage .Others say coffee and dish soap now smell putrid. The hardest part can be when it happens with food.

“Some of the most common things I’ve found in my patients is they can’t tolerate garlic and onions those two are very common in folks I’ve been seeing,” says Dr. Manes.

“This distorted sense of smell really also affects your day to day life. If one can imagine not being able to east spaghetti sauce because of the garlic in there a provoking foul smell or taste.”

Dr. Manes sees this happening around 2 1/2 months after people lose their sense of taste and smell.

He says about 43% of people who lost their sense of smell go on to suffer from distorted smell.

“This is something we’re seeing now in the long term even after patients have recovered from their initial covid infection.”

Dr. Manes loss of smell brings anxiety over things like not being able to smell smoke if there’s a fire.

He says the body tries to heal itself from damage done to smell nerves he says it’s like the wiring is off. But it can be a step forward toward back to normal.

“It does indicate some degree of healing it seems like it’s on the road to recovery but it’s not there yet.”

Doctors at Yale treat this with smell re-training. They have patients smell 4 odors for 3 months. Items like lemon and rose. Every 3 months they then switch the items.

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