Posts Tagged ‘anosmia’

Since Covid-19 has struck, symptoms have been a large part of the conversations around the virus. Lately the loss of the sense of taste or smell could be indictive of having Coronavirus. And today, while listening to the radio, a musical artist was being interviewed who had coronavirus and recovered. He stated his only real symptoms were the loss of taste and smell.

He stated he wasn’t able to smell food frying in the pan, and it tasted funny. He could not smell his shampoo or hygienic products. He went about the house and tried to smell a pumpkin candle and other items that should have had distinctive scents or taste’s. He was apparently unable to ascertain any smell or real taste.

I guess that makes sense (no pun intended) as I’ve heard taste and smell are connected. I wouldn’t know though. I was born with anosmia… the technical term for a lack of smell. Good, bad, indifferent, I’ve never had an awareness of a scent.

People would talk about the delight of bacon frying, flowers blooming, coffee brewing or certain perfumes. They would cringe when discussing skunks, dirty bathrooms, rotten eggs, and sour milk. Fresh cut grass. Pumpkin spice anything. Newly painted rooms. Dead fish. Christmas trees. House on fire. I’m forever clueless about any of these.

Seriously, true story. I almost burned the house down when I was newly married. I was heating up oil to fry dinner, turned my back to the stove to attend to other things. (Yes, I knew better, but for whatever reason was preoccupied that day and “forgot” cooking lesson # 1) The pan burned, filled the kitchen directly behind me with smoke, and by the time I turned around, flames were licking up the walls. It all ended well, fortunately, but anyone else would have smelled the smoke moments before I turned around.

Years before that, I wanted to cook a bagel in the microwave at work. Being new to both bagels and microwaves, I felt five minutes was a good starting point to cook the bagel. Five minutes later I had a scorched hockey puck and a building full of smoke that took the rest of the day to air out. I found it interesting that people smelled the smoke seconds from walking in the door yet I had completely missed it mere feet from the source (where once again my back was turned).

Some things remain a mystery to me still. Take flatulence. How can something that allegedly will make people turn green and hold their breath as they dash from the room slowly “just disappear” over time, whereas the stench of musk glands, burnt popcorn or curdled milk stays indefinitely? How can perfume linger on clothes, letters, and other fabrics while disappearing in the air, but perfumes can hang in the air at places like the perfumery or the cosmetic counter? I have never understood the whole some scents just stay and some fade. How is this stuff decided upon?

When people learn I can’t smell, it usually leads to the question of: If you can’t smell, can you taste? I have excellent taste, thank you. (yes, pun intended) And yes, I can taste what I put in my mouth, just slightly different than most people would. My taste buds are… different.

Anything with the tiniest bit of spice or heat is able to make flames shoot out of my mouth like a dragon. Mild? No such thing! Mild flavor or mild heat will have me gulping the water. Ditto for pepper. That rules out a lot of foods from my plate. Many things are too similar for me to tell apart. Butterscotch and caramel are two examples that both taste the same. Most berries are another. Most fish too. There normally isn’t enough distinction for me to tell one kind from another.

And sweets! I seldom have had enough sweets in anything. It’s almost impossible for me to have anything too sweet. I like a little salt, like chips, but prefer sweet hands down any day.

So that leads me to a question of my own… for someone who already has little to no sense of taste or smell, how would they know if they were having those specific symptoms of Covid-19? In the absence of the other common symptoms, it could be misleading.

Does anyone know of someone else with Anosmia? Or how it can be helpful or detrimental to Covid-19?

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I’ve been writing a story for a little while now, and happened to a scene where one character needed to put on a Christmas-y smelling perfume. I’ve already written a few lines here and there about pine tree scent and cranberries and such hackneyed things, but I wondered, okay, what does a Christmas-y perfume smell like?

christmas cookies on tray

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Disclaimer here, I have anosmia, which means no sense of smell. Zero. Never have and doubtlessly never will smell a single thing; good or bad. It’s just one of those quirky things that makes us all different.

Actually, since I’ve never smelled anything, I don’t have a clue what I am missing out on, which is okay in my book. On the flip side, I did nearly burn the house down once and did try cooking a bagel in the microwave for five minutes once. Both ended kind of badly since I had my back turned away and did not notice the black smoke directly behind me. So lessons learned. It could have been worse on both counts.

photo of woman smelling red flowers

Photo by Anfisa Eremina on Pexels.com

Yet, on the other hand, I also don’t know how to describe everyday things. Fresh cut grass for example. I’ve heard it smells good, but it’s very hard to research what it really does smell like. I’ve heard flowers and fresh baked goods are pleasant. Again, hard to pinpoint exactly what makes them good. The list is endless.

Same for bad. What makes a fart bad? How come some are bad and some are not even noticed? How long does the scent linger in the air from bad odors? Why do people say a dog smells like a dog? What is it supposed to smell like? If the air outside is smoky and smelly, and you open the windows to air something out, wouldn’t that same smoky and smelly stink get inside? And if so, how do you get it out?

I have so many questions regarding smells, it would literally take days for researching them all or someone to explain this stuff to me. But back to my Christmas-y perfume quandary for the story. I found this place on line that makes oils, candles, and all sorts of things for every scent possible. Literally every scent one could want.

I was in awe. They have Christmas scents, childhood scents, pet scents, (ya know I had to check that one out) masculine scents, Easter scents, spa scents, and on and on and on. Oh my stars! It was like Narnia or something. I kept clicking away, trying to figure out what made these things smell good.  Again, not much to work with in the understanding department, but I was trying.

And some of these scents just made no sense. (Yes, pun intended)

Doodlebug. Boogeyman. Bite me. (Vampire) Black tie.  Best friends. Bermuda triangle. Elf sweat. Aliens. How in the devil does one know what those things smell like? How can one make a candle, or whatever that smells like that? Yeah, hey, come on over and sniff my new boogeyman candle. What do ya think? Just like the real boogeyman, right?

aroma aromatherapy aromatic blur

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But aside from the improbable scents to nail down, they had an impressive array of things that sent me scrambling for a notepad and pen. Coffee scents is a big one that that stumps me. It smelled like coffee. Not good enough. The chocolate page is great, but it made me want to run to the kitchen for some chocolate. Men’s cologne is another one that stumps me. Now I have some names in my arsenal.  Not sure what they all are, but I can work with what I now have.

beverage breakfast caffeine chocolate

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And the impressive thing is there are other holiday scents I can tap into and even events if need be. And this is just one site I discovered. What if there are other pages like this one, dedicated to describing the scents that go into making sense of the smells? Really?

I am just in awe.

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