Mobile doctor explains parosmia, rancid-smelling aftermath of COVID-19


MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Imagine almost everything smelling or tasting foul. That’s one possible side effect of COVID-19. It’s called parosmia.

One ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist says this started a few months ago and is becoming more common by the week.

Dr. Mark Harrison says the research is in the beginning phases and right now there really is no answer.

He tells patients the smelling sensation is being caused by the cranial nerve, or sense of smell, being inflamed. He says the swelling is caused by the virus, similar to an ear virus making you dizzy.

This impacts the olfactory nerve. Dr. Harrison says it is not nerve damage in the fact of cutting a nerve but neuron fibers not communicating with the brain. This is why things you may have liked before now smell different.

Treatments right now, while not proven to cure the problem, include steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs and olfactory training.

“Some of the guidelines on this is you choose four scents. Like cinnamon, peppermint, lemon ya know. Smell the lemon and tell yourself it’s a lemon and you do this several times a day and you are trying to retain your brain knowing you know exactly what that scent is.”

Dr. Mark Harrison

Right now there is no link between the vaccine and this problem. Doctors believe it to be caused by the virus as a long-term or long-hauler effect.

Dr. Harrison also says he has seen this issue more common in the younger age group. He says the patients he is treating for parosmia are between 20-40 years old.


Another virus that impacted the nerves was Bell’s palsy. Dr. Harrison says to get answers about that, doctors had to wait until someone died to perform an autopsy on the nerve. This method leaves doctors and scientists in a current waiting game for more information on parosmia.


Dr. Harrison says there is no real cure for this problem, and there is no medicine out there to help. He suggests olfactory nerve training as the best option.

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