‘I smell smoke’: Foul, unexplained scents linked to coronavirus, say Florida doctors


FILE – In this Nov. 16, 2020, file photo, a runner passes by a window displaying portraits of people wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Lewiston, Maine. A deadly rise in COVID-19 infections is forcing state and local officials to adjust their blueprints for fighting a virus that is threatening to overwhelm health care systems. Schools are scrapping plans to reopen classrooms. More states are adopting mask mandates. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Doctors at a Florida hospital are spreading the word about the link between COVID-19 and “parosmia.”

“Parosmia, which means abnormal sense of smell. Dysosmia means sort of bad, sense of smell in terms of smelling something foul,” said Dr. Kevin Hsu, Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Lakeland Regional Health.

Some patients nationwide have reported wine that tastes like gasoline or meat that tastes rotted.

Dr. Hsu said most of the patients he treats with coronavirus and smell/taste disturbances report a loss of those senses.

But a subset are reporting parosmia and/or dysosmia.

“Some people can say ‘yeah, nobody smokes cigarettes in the house, but I smell smoke and I can’t find out where it’s coming from.’ Something like a coffee can smell kind of sour,” said Dr. Hsu.

Some experts believe coronavirus kills off olfactory neurons that are used to smell but the phenomenon usually goes away, according to a report by The Washington Post.

If you notice something is off with your smell or taste senses, contact a doctor.


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