Covid: what is phantosmia, a coronavirus consequence experienced by people who recovered?

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 19 January 2021 at 17h52 · Updated on 20 January 2021 at 12h19
Recovering from Covid is no exactly a walk in the park… And even after one made it, several consequences can occur overnight without warning, taking former coronavirus sick by surprise. And among these consequences, there is phantosmia, a symptom related to the loss of smell… But what is it exactly? Keep reading to find out more!

Covid and its share of symptoms… After surviving fever, cough, headaches, fatigue, loss of smell and/or taste, and even breathing issues, some former coronavirus sick are experiencing very curious symptoms, consequences of the disease it seems: phantosmia. But what is phantosmia.

This is an “olfactive hallucination” caused by the inflammation of olfactive nerves and experienced by people who have lost their senses of smell. Therefore, people who got these symptoms when contaminated are said to smell – weeks later – (often unpleasant) smells that do not exist. As for these smells, it is as if there was something burning, roasting, like iron, oil and more. A “consequence” not to mistaken with “parosmia” which can also be experienced by former Covid cases and consisting in – like phantosmia – the brain substituting one smell for another and unpleasant smell.

Two afflictions that are not exclusive to Covid, as they are common in viral rhinitis, for instance, or other olfactive issues of this kind.  As for phantosmia, this consequence seems to affect a third of former sick, as explained by Camille Ferdenzi – CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) searcher at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center: “For now, in 300 respondents who have had Covid, about a third says they smell ghost smells”, the scientist says. “And in about twenty people, smell of smoke, burnt, and cigarette often occurs” she adds, speaking about an online investigation called “Qualité de vie et pertes olfactives et gustatives durant la crise sanitaire du Covid-19” [Life quality and olfactive and gustatory loss during the Covid-19 health crisis] put up together by the center’s Neuropop team.

To make it to the end, one solution: like for anosmia (loss of smell), you shall train your nose to smell things. An affliction that will anyway disappear over time.

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