“There are daily reports of recovery from long-distance drivers in terms of improvement in parosmia and fairly good sense of smell in patients,” said Professor Hopkins.
Ms. Viegut, 25, fears that she may not be able to detect a gas leak or fire. That’s a real risk, as shown by the experience of a family in Waco, Texas in January who didn’t realize their home was on fire. Almost all members had lost their sense of smell because of Covid; they escaped, but the house was destroyed.
Parosmia is one of several Covid-related problems related to smell and taste. Partial or complete loss of smell or anosmia is often the first symptom of the coronavirus. Loss of taste or ageusia can also be a symptom.
Prior to Covid, parosmia received relatively little attention, said Nancy E. Rawson, vice president and assistant director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, an internationally renowned nonprofit research group.
“We’d have a big conference and one of the doctors could have a case or two,” said Dr. Rawson.
In a French study from early 2005, the majority of the 56 cases examined were attributed to upper respiratory tract infections.
Today, scientists can point to more than 100 reasons for odor loss and distortion, including viruses, sinusitis, head trauma, chemotherapy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, said Dr. Zara M. Patel, associate professor of ENT medicine at Stanford University and director of endoscopic skull base surgery.