The worst symptom for Covid-19 “long haulers” is here…


Scout Thorston

Parosmia is a condition where food tastes terrible. It is often a long lasting symptom of Covid.

Scout Thorstenson, Journalist

As everybody knows, taste and smell are both typically affected by the Coronavirus and most times they return to normal after a few days, weeks, or months after infection. However, some Covid survivors are known as “long-haulers,” because of more long-term symptoms.

For the patients who tend to be ill for long after their initial infection of the Covid-19 virus, Parosmia is a very common illness. This is a condition in which smell and taste is restored, but not at all how it was prior to infection. Tastes and smells are very rancid and often times unbearable, pushing its victims to the point of nausea or migraines. Patients often describe food as tasting like metal or uncooked meat. Most of these patients are saying that even body wash and shampoo smell terrible to the point where they hold their breath in the shower.

Being a patient of this awful disorder, I wanted to dive further into what can be done to combat this. I called the doctor and scheduled an appointment to see if anything could be done, and they got me in as soon as possible.

Upon my arrival at urgent care, I was greeted by the typical COVID precautions such as distancing, masks, and sanitizers. I was guided into a private room so that my condition could be assessed by a doctor. After checking my vital signs, making sure that I did not require immediate care, and a negative COVID test, I was ready to attack my symptoms. The doctor asked me what kinds of foods were still tasting good, if any. I replied with the truth. I could only really eat protein bars and bread, as well as grilled cheese on some days where my smells were not through the roof. After hearing this, my doctor immediately gave me some zinc, vitamin b12 and vitamin D supplements to help me get nutrients in while I was eating such few calories every day.

Next, things got a little weird.

The doctor blindfolded me and waved various scents across my nose and asked me to identify them. In the mix was water, hand sanitizer, and what I think was rubbing alcohol. I was able to guess the water as there was no smell to it; however, I could not differentiate between the last two. Then, we went online, and I signed myself up for an online course that should help me recover and return my senses back to normal.

Going through this process made me wonder what this disorder looked like for other people, so I interviewed ROCORI Senior Tyler Warnberg who has also had COVID and is suffering from Parosmia.

Q: Do you have some days in which you can taste normal or is it consistently terrible?

A: “It isn’t necessarily days, but some foods and meals taste better than others. It is still very spotty and unpredictable.”

Next, I asked him about which foods tasted good and which were very rancid.

“Honestly it is very unpredictable. Cinnamon raisin bread, milk, and cheese are all decent and do not have much scent or taste at all. That goes for most dairy products. Some foods that are very pungent though include sweets and meats, I cannot stand chicken right now.”

Lastly, I inquired about his plans to combat this symptom.

Q: What have you done to try to regain some normalcy in your diet?

A: “I just power through things most of the time. If I have not had enough to eat that day I will just have whatever was made for dinner and hold my breath if it gets gross at any point.”

Tyler is in a very similar state to most other people who are suffering from Parosmia.

There is not much known about this symptom from Coronavirus. It is said to affect roughly 80% of “long-haulers” according to the CDC. One thing that is comforting however, is that if you are suffering from these symptoms you are not alone. While the effectiveness for smell and taste rehabilitation is not definitive, there is one prominent solution. Many people ages 18-24 have said that after receiving a covid vaccine that they no longer noticed these pungent smells and tastes. The reason is unknown; however, this does seem like a promising method.