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Opinion: If you’re suffering from loss of taste and smell after COVID-19, you’re not alone. I am too.

Opinion: If you’re suffering from loss of taste and smell after COVID-19, you’re not alone. I am too.

Carty is a sales manager for a medical supply company. She lives in North County.

I tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 24. Months later, on April 17, while making dinner for my family, I started to smell this horrific scent and then tried some of the ingredients. I made chicken breasts and a kale and red pepper salad, but it was as if I was eating poison. I immediately had my husband taste it and he confirmed not only did everything taste completely normal, it tasted really good to him. I then feverishly tasted other items in my pantry and fridge and had the same experience each time.

I quickly did what we all do when searching for answers and Googled. After some searching, I found a Facebook support group of over 25,000 people (and growing) who are experiencing my same symptoms. What was it that I was facing? Parosmia, a disorder that distorts the smell and taste of certain things.



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It has been more than seven weeks, and my smell and taste have gone away. Many of us who are suffering from parosmia can only taste and smell sewage, which we all now describe as smelling or tasting “COVID-19.” Each day is a trial-and-error process with food and smells, some days feeling more challenging than others. My own sweet and innocent baby’s scent started to make me feel sick to my stomach. You don’t realize how much your life is about smell and taste until this happens to you.

There is no cure or medication to resolve this disorder. Prior to COVID-19, anosmia (smell loss) and parosmia were relatively rare issues with little dedicated or properly funded research behind it. However, I am fortunate to be working with one of the world’s lead researchers on this topic at UC San Diego, Dr. Carol Yan. She explained that my condition is a result of COVID-19 severely damaging my olfactory nerve. The good news is that experts think parosmia means my nerves are trying to regenerate and allow me to smell again. The bad news is that the wiring is broken and possibly growing back incorrectly. It can take up to two years to recover with also a chance of no full recovery.

Julie Carty shares her story on San Diego News Fix:

She has me retraining my olfactory nerves by smell and taste rehabilitation. I am also performing nasal rinses twice daily with an off-label use of an asthma medication called budesonide as well as a sodium citrate compound based on a small randomized controlled clinical trial that was led by an ear, nose and throat doctor and leader in smell and taste research, Thomas Hummel, in Germany.

My doctor and her colleagues around the world who are aware of parosmia are tirelessly studying this and looking for solutions for their patients. Yan is currently conducting a clinical trial at UC San Diego in collaboration with Stanford University to use a patient’s own platelet-rich plasma and inject it back into the patient’s olfactory tissue in hopes to promote nerve regeneration and improve sense of smell. Using small tissue samples from the nose, Yan and her colleagues are also researching why so many COVID-19 patients like me continue to suffer from anosmia and parosmia when others have recovered. Pushing for both new treatment options and further study of the causes is much needed, but it is expensive and resource-consuming.

In the Facebook support group, we are all experiencing the same challenges. Most primary care doctors and ear, nose and throat doctors have never heard of parosmia and many patients are told there isn’t anything they can do. There are thousands of people who don’t have a Dr. Carol Yan and are left feeling no hope.

I recently connected with a young woman through the Facebook support group who was being held in a hospital in Italy for an eating disorder because the staff simply did not believe her and had never heard of parosmia. People there kept trying to force-feed her and she went online asking for advice. Once I heard her story, I immediately contacted Dr. Hummel in Germany by merely Googling his email address. To my surprise, he emailed back and then connected me with the expert located in Italy. I passed along the young women’s contact information and hospital location. They now believe her and she is no longer under the psychiatric hold and investigation for an eating disorder.

Tens of thousands of us around the globe have heartbreaking stories because of this terrible disorder. We need Dr. Yan’s and her colleague’s studies to move forward so we can all move forward with our lives. For more information about Dr. Yan’s research efforts, Google “UC San Diego and loss of taste and smell.”

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