A Covid-19 survivor says the disease has ruined her life by making her favourite foods smell putrid.
Sarah Govier, 44, caught the virus in May and like many others lost her sense of smell but months after it came back she was struck by a bizarre new symptom – a total distortion of her sense of smell and taste.
The mum-of-two said nearly “all food smells rotten” and she’s lost weight because she can barely bring herself to eat some of her favourite meals.
She likens the taste of meat to floral soap or perfume, toothpaste tastes more like petrol than mint, and coffee has an odour of car fumes or cigarette smoke, according to the Daily Mirror.
Sarah, an occupational therapist from Whitstable, Kent, said: “Coffee tasted horrible and cleaning my teeth with toothpaste felt like brushing them with petrol – it was vile. At first, everything smelt basically the same, so coffee smelt the same as if someone was smoking or like car fumes.
“Garlic and onions smelt awful – I can’t even describe it, and because they’re in basically every recipe or ready meal it made cooking very challenging. If I went into someone’s house and they were cooking I would smell a mixture of wet dog and rancid water – everything just stank like mould.
“I was having to sniff things before I ate them and it felt quite feral, like a weird kind of animal.
“The aftertaste was often just as bad as I could taste that horrible smell, and it would also linger in the kitchen for days. I even had to spit out chocolate.”
Sarah said colleagues at William Harvey Hospital tested positive in April, but she didn’t have the classic symptoms of a cough and high temperature. But one day she came home totally exhausted and developed a sore throat, so stayed off work and booked a test on May 2.
Whilst her husband Jim, 47, and kids Jake, 11, and Daniel, eight, didn’t get symptoms, the afternoon after her test, Sarah lost her senses of taste and smell.
She said: “I was cooking a curry and one minute I could smell it, but when I went to taste it I couldn’t taste anything. I ran upstairs and sprayed some perfume on my wrist, but I couldn’t smell anything and that was when I knew I had it so I just started crying.
“Gradually over a few days things just started selling awful, but it’s very hard to describe because it doesn’t smell like anything you’ve ever smelt before. Food shopping became a nightmare because I had no motivation to do any cooking.”
She’s still able to eat cheese and fish, as well as her favourite food of avocados with prawn cocktail, but is worried she’ll get bored. She said: “I was 10 stone in August which is the heaviest I had been in a long time, but within a couple of weeks of developing my parosmia I lost half a stone just because I wasn’t eating.
“I can also smell sweat really strongly in situations where you wouldn’t normally notice, like just when I get a bit hot from walking the kids to school. A small bit of perspiration in my clothes smells like rotten cabbage, and when you can smell yourself all the time you get really paranoid.
“I’m constantly smelling myself and asking people if I stink- I haven’t wanted to exercise because of the horrible smell of sweating.”
She was inspired to create her Facebook group called ‘Covid Anosmia/Parosmia Support Group’, which now has more than 4,000 members from all over the world.
She said: “People come on and thank me and can’t believe they’re not the only ones. There’s been some parents who are miserable because they couldn’t smell their newborn baby.
“It can feel quite lonely as it really affects you pretty much all day every day. So many celebrations and social events revolve around eating or going out to a restaurant, so right now there’s part of me that’s grateful for the restrictions stopping all that.”