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What Is Parosmia?

Do you suffer from parosmia or know someone with the issue? For some time it was more common due to COVID-19, however it has other causes.

Parosmia is a change in the conventional perception of odors. It occurs once we smell something that’s familiar to us and that we normally like, however it actually becomes unpleasant to us.



There’s a distortion of the smells we used to love. It could transform the smell of coffee within the morning right into a repulsive stench that results in nausea.

Parosmia is on the list of essentially the most common olfactory disorders, together with the next:

  • Hyposmia: A reduced sense of smell.
  • Anosmia: The shortcoming to perceive odors.
  • Phantosmia: Smelling something that isn’t really there.

More often than not, the alteration of the sense of smell is accompanied by a taste disorder. And, recently, there have been greater repercussions resulting from its association with COVID-19, although coronavirus infection isn’t the one cause.

What happens within the brain of individuals with parosmia?

To know a little bit more about this condition, it’s crucial to know how the sense of smell works. The flexibility to smell begins within the olfactory sensory neurons, that are positioned within the upper inner a part of the nose. From there, they connect the stimulus to the brain.

Each olfactory neuron has a receptor, which is stimulated by molecules released within the environment. The message reaches the brain and the odor is identified there. This identification involves subjective issues, equivalent to memories. It’s different from the purely chemical identification that takes place, for instance, within the food or perfume industry, as reported by the Universidad Veracruzana.

Now, what happens in an individual with parosmia? The method isn’t entirely clear and relies on the underlying cause. Nonetheless, experts agree on the belief that there’s a partial lack of olfactory neurons, which causes an incomplete perception of smell.

A study published within the journal ENT showed how the brains of individuals with parosmia work otherwise in comparison with those that smell normally. This finding raised doubts concerning the peripheral origin of the issue. Perhaps, in some patients, the problem lies throughout the brain.

In favor of this hypothesis, a publication in The Laryngoscope showed that olfactory training helps to get well lost functions, so it will be feasible to create recent “repair” neuronal connections.

In a method or one other, essentially the most usual symptom is all the time the unpleasant change within the perception of smells.

Smells that we liked are perceived as rotten or burnt. A rose or a flower may smell like feces. We can also think that what we’re cooking is burnt.

Discover more: Hyperosmia: Oversensitivity to Odors

Causes for parosmia

Currently, greater than 100 causes for parosmia might be identified. Let’s discuss essentially the most common ones, in keeping with information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

  • Smoking
  • Nasal polyps
  • Hormonal alterations
  • Cranioencephalic traumas
  • Radiation from cancer treatments
  • Exposure to chemicals or medications
  • Upper respiratory infections, equivalent to sinusitis
  • Disorders affecting the nervous system, equivalent to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
Respiratory infections may end in a momentary alteration of the sense of smell.

Parosmia attributable to COVID-19

More recently, COVID-19 has joined the list of causes.

An evaluation published within the journal Nature states that 47% of individuals with the disease have concomitant alterations of smell and taste. Of this percentage, 23% claim to have suffered from parosmia.

In the UK, a survey was carried out on patients who had overcome the disease 6 months earlier. The outcomes revealed that 43% had lost their sense of smell and, on recovering it, suffered parosmia. This happened on average 2.5 months after discharge from COVID-19.

But what causes parosmia resulting from coronavirus? At first, it was thought to occur since the virus attacks olfactory neurons. Nonetheless, studies on the topic revealed that this isn’t the case.

Olfactory neurons are linked by sustentacular cells, which contain a protein called ACE2. The virus attacks these cells since the protein acts as a code that permits SARS-CoV-2 to enter and damage them. This may occasionally even be the reason behind the anosmia attributed to the coronavirus.

Upon infection and entry of the virus into the cells, via the ACE2 protein, scarring and attempts at repair by the tissues of the respiratory system begin. During this process, recent and erroneous neuronal connections are made, which is able to eventually cause parosmia.

Read more: Is a Lack of Smell a Possible Coronavirus Symptom?

Is it treatable?

There’s no specific treatment to resolve it. Actually, prescriptions are indicated in keeping with what’s alleged to be the cause that gave rise to the issue.

A smoker will likely be instructed to quit smoking. If nasal polyps are present, they’ll be removed. Sinusitis will likely be treated with antibiotics.

Using vitamins and minerals as supplements for treatment isn’t all the time effective. Based on research, improvements are obtained if the person has a licensed micronutrient deficit.

Impact of parosmia on each day life

People who are suffering from parosmia for a very long time may even see their quality of life diminished, resulting from the sensation of disgust that accompanies them.

Parosmia is a disorder that causes problems in people’s each day life. It prevents people from carrying out their normal routine and even attending social events.

Food may smell rotten, people may smell of sweat, even in the event that they are clean, and disinfectants could also be assimilated to feces. Even body odor itself may cause repulsion.

The sense of taste and smell are connected. So it’s common for patients to vary their eating habits, as food becomes unpleasant due to its odor. Some people experience weight reduction by not having the ability to stand the food they usually reduce their each day calories.

Let’s keep in mind that the sense of smell is a survival tool. It helps us to find out if we’re at risk. For instance, within the event of a gas leak or distinguishing chemical products that might intoxicate us.

That’s why we shouldn’t let time pass if we expect we’ve got parosmia. We should always seek the advice of an authority and begin the suitable tests to detect its origin.

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