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Food 'Smells Like Feet' For Quincy Woman Battling Parosmia After Bout With COVID

QUINCY (CBS) - What used to be Jenn Charney's favorite meal now smells and tastes rancid after her battle with COVID last year.

"I used to love the smell of my mother's spaghetti sauce," Charney said. "Now it smells like feet and dirty diaper."

Charney's smell became distorted. Everything from fast food and coffee to household items, the Quincy woman says smell awful all the time.

"There was three days I didn't eat, because there was nothing I could eat," Charney said. "It was just so depressing."

The condition is called parosmia and Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron says it can be debilitating. Her son had a similar experience.

"Everything smelled like ramen," Dr. Doron said. "Certainly, I know other people who've had more of the smell of garbage or some people say the smell of rotting flesh - they lose a lot of weight. They can't eat."

Dr. Doron says it's unclear what causes this phenomenon.

"Some people it lasts weeks and others it lasts months," Doron said.

For Charney, it's been nearly a year, but she finds comfort knowing she's not alone after joining a support group on Facebook.

"I saw and there were thousands, literally thousands of other people around the world going through the same exact thing," Charney said.

Doron says that camaraderie is important until doctors find a cure.

"All I can say is researchers are still working on it and I believe there will be a treatment eventually," Doron said. "But at this point, we don't have it."

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