Charlotte's story

Charlotte was disgusted by most foods when she first developed parosmia, but is now living life with her 'new normal' sense of smell

Charlotte's story

Charlotte has been living with parosmia for two years after originally losing her sense of smell after a Covid infection. Most food disgusted her in the early days and she went through a period of deep distress. However, two years on, Charlotte says her parosmia has improved - there's only a handful of food items that she really cannot stomach - but describes her sense of smell as a "new normal".

I developed parosmia a few months after having Covid. I was hit suddenly by a sense of mould connected to any food I went near and very quickly started to struggle. I felt nauseous most of the time. I didn't have any 'safe foods' so I was constantly hungry as there was so little I could eat without feeling sick. I lost a lot of weight. I was pretty depressed at this time. I was grieving my loss of taste and smell. 

It's been a rollercoaster - some days the smell was so bad, I couldn't eat; other days, I struggled to eat small bites of food. I tried to push through it in the hope that it wouldn't feel so bad after the first few bites, but the smell and taste actually became worse.

I find it hard because it's an invisible conditon and I get frustrated. People may something flippant like "why are you acting weird" and then I'm forced to talk about my parosmia. I don't want it to rule my life but often it does. Food rules our lives - most of us eat three meals a day so food is constantly on our minds.

The danger of parosmia

There have been occasions where I've experienced the real danger of parosmia. For example, my husband made my me and my children pizza. He had eaten a different pizza, but tried mine half way through eating - and said it tasted "really off". We discovered when looking at the pizza box that it was eight months out of date (it had been in the freezer). The next day I was really poorly with severe stomach pains.

At work it was often difficult because there was always a colleague with food or heating up their food, so I was forced to stay at my desk most of the time. I sit next to a window so I always focused on the fresh air coming in rather than the offending smells surrounding me.

Support is key

I have found the support of the AbScent group to be invaluable for tips and advice - particularly around nutrition. For example, somebody had said grapes were a 'safe food'. I had some in the fridge so gave one a try and 'hallelujah', grapes were fine! It's comforting to know I'm not alone with this horrible conditon - there are others in the same space as me.

Don't give up

A year ago, I was ready to give up on the foods that caused me the most disgust, like eggs and meat. But now in 2023, I can eat more foods and I consider my smell to be a 'new normal' since developing Covid. When I can manage branching out with different foods, it’s been worth it. But there are also days - even weeks - when I don't feel like fighting and I'll just eat cake and ice-cream because they are easy, safe foods for me. So, know that even if you have a bad day/week/month, you can try it again. I promise it will get better even if your smell and taste doesn’t seem to be improving; you can find a new normal.


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