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KPBS Midday Edition

Recovered COVID-19 Patient Describes Agony Of Distorted Sense Of Smell

Nurse practitioner Debbi Hinderliter, left, collects a sample from a woman at a coronavirus testing site near the nation's busiest pedestrian border crossing in San Diego. Aug. 13, 2020
Gregory Bull / Associated Press
Nurse practitioner Debbi Hinderliter, left, collects a sample from a woman at a coronavirus testing site near the nation's busiest pedestrian border crossing in San Diego. Aug. 13, 2020
The loss of taste and smell is now widely known as a telltale sign of COVID-19. But fewer people are aware of another potential lingering side effect: When scents and flavors become distorted.

One of the many mysteries surrounding COVID-19 is the peculiar side effect of patients losing their sense of taste and smell. In the medical field, that's called anosmia.

A less publicized side effect that can follow in some COVID-19 patients is parosmia: when scents and flavors become distorted. There's been relatively little research into the disorders, which until recently have been exceptionally rare. That's left many patients feeling confused, isolated and hopeless.

RELATED: Will My Sense Of Smell Ever Return? Olfactory Insights From COVID And Beyond

Julie Carty wrote about her experience with post-COVID parosmia in an essay published in The San Diego Union-Tribune this week. She said the disorder was devastating, even the scent of her newborn baby made her feel sick to her stomach.

Carty joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about her experience. Also on the show was Dr. Carol Yan, a UC San Diego researcher who studies parosmia and anosmia and is involved in Carty's medical care.