People With Covid-19 Report Burnt, Rotten Odors As A Symptom


BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's no secret that many people with Covid-19 lose some or all of their sense of smell -- but for others -- they are experiencing the opposite.

Some patients with the virus are developing a condition called parosmia, a disorder that causes smells to become distorted and in many cases -- unpleasant or rotten.

According to Dr. Lora Bankova, who works in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the condition is often triggered by already-strong scents.

"So coffee smells rotten -- maybe burnt rubber is how you could describe it," Dr. Bankova said.

One local man, identified as Hank, said he used to drink multiple cups of coffee per day -- but his experience with parosmia from Covid-19 turned him off from the experience.

"I love the taste of coffee -- I don't drink it for the caffeine or anything," Hank said. "And it would smell awful and I just said 'you know what? I'm not going to drink coffee.'"

Hank describes the scent as a "gross, sulfur, burnt coffee, chemical-type odor" and said at one point in time, "most everything" had that same smell.

"[With food] I kind of just ended up powering through it and just eating," he said.

Dr. Bankova is currently conducting research on parosmia at Brigham and Women's as part of a study to eventually find a treatment for the condition.

"[We want to] try to understand if there's inflammation, what kind of inflammation there is in the nose," she said.

WBZ's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports.

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Written by Rachel Armany

Photo: (Getty Images)