What is Parosmia?
Parosmia can most simply be defined as a distorted sense of smell and/or taste, where anosmia is the loss of sense of smell (total or partial).
Parosmia is a distorted olfactory response in the presence of an odor. This can be a debilitating condition in which familiar smells become unrecognizable and disgusting, sometimes leading to malnourishment, depression and mental health issues.
With smell being closely linked to taste, many patients experiencing parosmia become distressed due to their impaired eating. The tongue is responsible for core tastes like salty, bitter and sweet, but most of the faint flavors we taste, like in soups, sauces, or beverages are tightly linked to sense of smell.
Parosmia happens when the smell receptor cells in your nose don’t detect odors, and translate them to your brain improperly. The smell is than perceived as bad or disgusting (think rotten flesh or week old garbage.)
What can cause parosmia? Most commonly parosmia results after a viral infection. More cases than ever have been seen after Covid-19. Other cases may be, but are not limited to head injuries, sinus infections, colds, tumors, drugs, and seizures.
Impact on Quality of Life
When your sense of smell can't be relied on, you may be at risk of missing things like dirty diapers, spoiled milk or food, smoke, or even a gas leak. Careers may be impacted as well if you rely on your sense of smell. Chefs, sommeliers, perfumers, and firefighters, will find it difficult to perform while coping with parosmia. Sufferers of parosmia may find it impacts their friendships and family life in a negative way. No longer being able to tolerate going out to a restaurant can have an impact more than people may realize.
There is no set conventional treatment for Parosmia. This has led patients to trial and error and doing their own research on treatments that may work for their individual case.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Zinc Supplements
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through one of the links.
SGB - A stellate ganglion block is an injection of local anaesthetic into the collection of nerves in the side of the neck. The injection goes directly into the autonomic nervous system, which some theorize will stop the "Fight or Flight" response. I personally tried this treatment, and sadly this had no effect on my Parosmia. I can say though I have talked to several people who have had success with the SGB treatment.
Essential oils were commonly used in the early days of Covid-19 when loss of smell was an extremely widespread symptom. Olfactory training is a non-pharmacological and non-surgical treatment option for patients with olfactory dysfunction, such as parosmia and anosmia. Patients expose themselves to 4 different odors, 2 or more times per day, for 4-6 months.
Over the past few years, companies have developed smell training kits specifically designed for olfactory dysfunction with multiple phases as you progress through the smell therapy.
The kits are designed to help regenerate damaged neural pathways. The specific fragrances found in the smell training kits represent some of the most important scents in the Odor Prism. With consistency and practice, these scents can make it easier for you to recognize other fragrances that fall within that prism.
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