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Minnesota woman says all food tastes bitter after developing rare COVID side effect

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St. Louis Park, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s something many people are experiencing after recovering from COVID.

Flavors in foods they loved before are replaced with an unbearable taste and smell.

WCCO’s Marielle Mohs shares one woman’s story about dealing with this interesting side effect.

Sitting outside her St. Louis Park home is the best way for Nicki to enjoy a meal with her husband these days.

Two of them have drastically different food preferences ever since Nicki contracted COVID19 in July 2020, but a few months after recovering something changed.

“Things took a turn. Things started tasting really off, really foul…rotton,” she said.

Nicki developed Parosmia.

A long-term, and common side effect, of COVID 19.

“If you were eating a salad right now, I would not be able to sit here,” Nicki said.

Ear, Nose and Throat Physician, Dr. Holly Boyer, says around 80% of COVID patients experience smell and tastes aversions, like Parosmia, when sensory cells are damaged during COVID.

“As those cells regenerate, they can link up in the wrong way to the nerves that they’re supporting and that can distort your sense of smell,” Dr. Boyer said.

Dr. Boyer says most Parosmia cases recover within two-six months.

However, in rare cases, it can take up to two years to recover.

To speed up recovery, Dr. Boyer has patients go through smell re-training therapy.

“You can either buy essential oils or use your household items and repeatedly smell those things until you train your brain that this should smell like rose or this should smell like orange or a lemon,” she said.

Nicki has already had Parosmia symptoms for the last eight months.

As she waits this recovery out, she tries new foods all the time to see what works.

“Most days I can eat applesauce,” Nicki said.

Her husband keeps the foods she once loved in this separate cupboard so Nicki doesn’t have to even smell them.

“Peanut butter is a no, all of our pastas, salsas, crackers, I never go in this pantry,” she said.

This entire experience taught her to never take for granted the gift of smell and taste again.

“You don’t realize how valuable your senses are until they’re gone,” she said.

Nicki joined several Facebook groups with thousands of others around the country experiencing the same problem.

She got tips on how to handle this better.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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