Skip to main content

How to manage/survive your parosmia.

First of all, let me say I've been overwhelmed with the response to this tiny blog!  I've had emails from all over the world, and I've been very touched by some of the stories my readers have shared with me. Thank you so much for getting in touch, and I'm very glad some of you have found my blog posts helpful.  There are lots more posts coming now I've had my Christmas break, I promise!

With that in mind, today I'm going to attempt to answer the question I've been asked most in the emails, which has been "Have you found anything that helps?" Well, yes, I have.  A few, anyway, and I mention them here in the hopes that they'll help some of you, too.   I remember well the first time I saw my ENT surgeon and asked him if there was anything I could do to relieve my symptoms, as it was an incredibly bad day.  He just gave a mini-shrug and said "I'm sorry".  The simple fact is that there hasn't been much research into parosmic triggers, and therefore, there's not been much research into cures for them either.  I'll come back to that in another post, however.  For now, here's what's in my "Parosmia Kit" for bad smell days ...

First things first:

Even if nothing else on this post helps, or is practical, you must get one of these:
NeilMed sinus rinse kit, which is currently available from Boots for £12.99.  According to Dr Carl Philpott, the UK's leading dysosmia expert, rinsing your sinuses with saline is still the most effective treatment for various nasal issues, in particular dysosmic conditions. However, this is not to say they are a cure, but they can help, and, unlike drugs,or surgical interventions sinus rinses don't have any side-effects. Try and rinse once a day, every single day without fail.  You can rinse more often if you're having an incredibly bad smell day, at some points, I have found myself rinsing two or three times a day.  It won't stop the smells, but it can help soothe your inflamed nasal tissues.

I find tipping my head slightly forward, and to the side I'm rinsing helps too.  Please though, never ever try rinsing your sinuses with plain water.  They will BURN.  Your sinuses need the salt.  You can use a neti pot, too, but the squeezable nature of the bottle allows you more range to find a comfortable rinsing position.

I also carry a Sterimar Nasal spray (which is basically seawater in an aerosol) in my handbag, for when I need relief but it isn't convenient to do a full sinus rinse.  If you are taking nasal steroids, by the way, you may benefit from pointing the spray towards the inner corner of your eye, rather than straight upwards.  The olfactory nerve is just below the eye, and this will help you get your steroids where they need to be.  This is the single useful tip my ENT gave me, and he was right, it does make a difference.


I found switching to a cinnamon-flavoured toothpaste really helpful, as mint toothpaste was regularly making me puke.  Personally, I like Toms of Maine Whole Care in Cinnamon Clove, which I get from Amazon, but thanks to kindly in-laws and various amazing friends who have been to the US recently, I now probably have around a two year supply.  Unflavoured toothpastes for some reason didn't work, as the texture became very quickly unbearable, and the cinnamon flavouring overpowers the gag reflex for some reason.  I just wish non-minty toothpastes were more widely available in the UK, and ones aimed at adults, to boot.  I just can't face strawberry or banana kiddy toothpastes in the mornings!

Eating and drinking:  

One of the hardest to deal with parts of parosmia is that eating and drinking even the blandest of foods can be difficult, the distortions that come hand in hand with this condition mean that everything tastes "wrong" and some things can taste so wrong that they are nauseating.  Nonetheless, I have found some things that really help.

Hot Sauce

Basically, you need to become friends with spicy foods.  Spices, particularly hot spices stimulate the trigeminal nerve rather than the olfactory one, in effect causing a mild pain response rather than being an actual "flavour".  For parosmics, spices can "mask" the olfactory distortion and make previously unpalatable foods more acceptable. I carry a little bottle of Sriracha around with me at all times for food emergencies, but my favourite hot sauce of all time is actually the Lively Habanero Sauce (the yellow one below), which I always have had several bottles of on the go, even before my parosmia began. Luckily, this has barely been affected at all by my parosmia.  Find a hot sauce you like, and put it on everything.

Holy Lama Spice Drops

I have had trouble with tea and wine.  The two best drinks! Luckily, I found quite early on that cinnamon was a bit of a "superfood" for me, and so I've been adulterating everything with cinnamon ever since.  I had to swap normal tea for chai for a while, and I discovered Holy Lama spice drops quite by accident when putting together an online shopping order, and thought that the Tea Masala drops would be a great addition to my handbag parosmia kit

Just a drop, added to a "bad" cup of tea can make all the difference.  In fact, it worked so well I splashed out on the mulled wine drops, and the cinnamon drops for when I'm struggling with wine.  I like wine, but occasionally the woods the wine is aged in causes a parosmic reaction, and it's difficult to drink.  A drop of mulled wine spice, or cinnamon in a "dodgy" glass can make the wine seem more normal to a parosmic palate.  Of course, you can just drink mulled wine!  Or, gin.  Gin, being quite spicy in its own right seems to not be affected too much by parosmic distortion, which is great news! Well, it made me happy ...


Sadly, I have not found anything at all to make milk or plain chocolate palatable. I'm sorry.  I have tried!  White chocolate, however, does not contain cocoa solids (which appear to be the trigger), and, as such is edible.  I have a weakness for the occasional white chocolate Twix, but I'm deeply indebted to Rococo for inventing their White Chocolate Artisan Bar in Cardamom.  It has got me through many a chocolate-related crisis, when there is nothing else suitable.  I do still occasionally long for a really good cup of hot chocolate though, I admit.


Coffee is  ... unsalvageable.  Sorry.  Drink Chai instead. You know it makes sense.


Bacon works quite well with hot sauce.  But I've found that fried halloumi can give you a similar salty-crisp effect if you slice it thinly enough, without the parosmic effect.  It's not the same though. I miss you, bacon!

Citrus juices.

Many things can be salvaged by the judicious application of a little lemon juice.  Chicken, potatoes, fish (although fish seems largely undistorted in my experience so far),  anywhere you think hot sauce might be too much, try a couple of drops of lemon juice instead.


Cooking potatoes with lemon can be really good - this is my favourite lemon-y potato recipe - but I've found that, nine times out of ten, I just have to suffer the muddy, dull, nasty flavour.  That or drown them in ketchup - for a parosmic, tomato ketchup can be a lifesaver, particular is there is a concurrent loss of smell, as it has four out of the five basic tastes (rather than flavour - more about taste vs flavour coming soon), sweet, sour, salty and umami, lacking only bitter. Heinz now make a ketchup with chilli.  I use a LOT of it.  

I have had better luck replacing potato crips, however, with tortilla chips, and lentil-based crunchy snacks.

Some (surprising) things that still taste "good":

Gin.  (I may have mentioned this).
Citrus fruits - but not grapefruit.

Carrots and raspberries contain ionones.  I made an incredibly surprising discovery about ionones at the Osmotheque in Paris quite recently, which I'll go into more detail about in a couple of upcoming posts.  But for now, my vegetable of choice is carrots.  With everything.


Many parosmics are also smell-compromised (hyposmic), and this means we don't taste as well as we used to, in spite of the distorted effects we get from our malfunctioning olfactory nerve.  This means that texture is more important in our food than it would usually be, and certainly I find that if my food lacks a mixture of textures then I will struggle with it way before I have eaten nearly enough to assuage my hunger.

I have found these a godsend:

for adding a little crunch and texture, and interest, to my meals.  I carry a tiny pot of these around with me everywhere.  For pepping up a pappy sandwich, or just dropping a couple onto a bland meal, they're very good for breaking up a gloopy meal, without adding too much in the way of distorted tastes, such as would happen if I used potato crisps for example.

By the way, Mexican food generally has been revelation to me whilst I've been suffering from parosmia! The mixture of textures, the spicy flavours, and the freshness of the ingredients have all made eating Mexican food far more easy for me than any other cuisine by far.  Wahaca, always one of my favourite places to eat even before the parosmia kicked in, has been a lifesaver when I've been sick of the cooking smells at home, or just struggling to eat anything at all.  I can't express enough how great it has been to know there is somewhere where I can go and eat with very few problems.  I'd eat there everyday if I could.  Fish tacos - hold the black beans - for the win!

There are more things, and I'll keep you posted as they occur to me.  I have started a Pinterest board for my finds, which you can find here: Get Lippie Anosmia/Parosmia/Hyposmia, and I add to it quite regularly. But basically I carry at all times: hot sauce, cinnamon-flavoured gum, crispy onions and chai spice flavouring, which seems to cover most eventualities. 

If you have any other suggestions, or have any other triggers (what bothers me might not bother you, I'm aware), let me know in the comments or drop me an email, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I completely understand what you are going through. I also had these symptoms for a full year after an awful cold, its taken a literal miracle that i no longer gag when eating or smelling food. I know that it doesn't help you that I fell sorry for you, but I really do. It was so depressing.

  2. I completely understand what you are going through. I also had these symptoms for a full year after an awful cold, its taken a literal miracle that i no longer gag when eating or smelling food. I know that it doesn't help you that I fell sorry for you, but I really do. It was so depressing.

  3. Some if my triggers are the same, some are very different. Coffee and tea are fine for me, but breads, tooth paste, bacon, strawberries, and most citrus are some of the worst offenders. I am going to go order that tooth paste right now. I had no idea they existed! Mexican food has been the safest choice for me eating out, it is nearly unchanged for me.

  4. Some if my triggers are the same, some are very different. Coffee and tea are fine for me, but breads, tooth paste, bacon, strawberries, and most citrus are some of the worst offenders. I am going to go order that tooth paste right now. I had no idea they existed! Mexican food has been the safest choice for me eating out, it is nearly unchanged for me.

  5. i also used neil med..suggested by my friend..everyday i pray to get back my sense of smell. lets pray together

  6. I have been using the sinus rinse formula Alkolol. It has helped! Breathing cool air helps tame a bad episode. Some days are worse than others.

  7. I am a new parosmic and being a doctor is even more frustrating. My ENT surgeon advised a short course of prednisolone 25 my twice daily for 1 week then 25 my daily for 1 week then 12.5 my for 1 week. Has anyone had any success with this regime? I seem to be able to tolerate foods without smell to some degree. Are there any suggestions apart from the foods mentioned already?

    1. My ENT wanted to prescribe prednisone for my parosmia, but since I recently had back surgery, he instead prescribed XHance nasal spray delivered by forced air breathed into the applicator. After a month, I noticed there are times where I can eat/ drink things with caution. It's very expensive, over$500/month. With my insurance, it's still $128/month. Hoping you are cured now. My email is if you care to compare our parosmias. -Kathy

  8. How are you doing now years later? I hope you are even better!

  9. Sorry I meant to add a bit. I am also seeing success with smell training especially the parosmia which was the worst part. After that I think I can live with anything. Judith

    1. I’m so glad you’re seeing success... I just started and am hoping for improvement as well

  10. I have post covid-19 parosmia and so happy I have found your blog and Pinterest board! Thank you!

    1. Hello:) are you feeling better yet? What did you find worked for you?

  11. I also have post Covid Parosmia - after a bit of research I’ve discovered what this is that’s affecting me! Tap water smells very strongly of chemicals, crackers taste off, and I no longer enjoy cilantro at all... luckily I can still smell and enjoy wine! :) going to take more time to discover what else has changed in smell or flavour for me now that I understand more about what is going on...

    1. I’d love to hear how that’s going for you... are you feeling better? What have you figured out works for you? I’ve revel my gotten the same thing and am trying to learn to live with it until I get better..

  12. I am one of the many people that had covid and got parosmia. Let me tell you how it happened. I got sick with covid, then after 2 days I lost my smell for 3 days but I still had my taste. When I got my smell back, everything was normal. It was normal until I ate something. When I ate something, it tasted like trash and throw up. I wish there was a way to describe it better but I can’t. Then I tried smelling the food and it smelled worse. Chocolate tasted like poop. Not joking. Even when I am sitting in my bed, I smell discussing oders as well as a discussing taste in my mouth. I brush my teeth but that has no effect. It’s very hard to live with this. I had it for about a month now. I would go to a doctor but I don’t want to in case if I’m still sick. I wouldn’t wish parosmia upon anyone. Not even my worst enemy. I try not to think about it but it’s hard to live with. I’m doing good but I can’t sleep at night because of how discussing it is. I gave you one example but there are many more.

  13. I also have post COVID-19 parosmia. I had my smell back, and then suddenly a few months later, bang, things smelled disgusting! I think we all agree, this sucks!

    I’d love to hear more from others as to what has been working for and helping them.

    As a result of my research, I’m currently doing smell training, taking omega 3 oils, and going to start a nasal rinse.

    As for foods... fresh fruits ans veggies seem to be fine so far (esp raspberrries and cotton candy grapes, yum)... raw foods in general are better, as when they get cooked they seem to get weird. Sushi is my go to, and Thai red curry (without meat) has been great. Rice and especially oatmeal have been life savors. Also tofu as been wonderful (but not cooking it, mostly boiled and added to things). I’m going to start trying to make meal replacement smoothies (make sure you get a good fat and protein in there). I have to avoid garlic, onions, and coffee at all costs.

    It’s been hard to coexist with others who like to cook ans eat food (darn people). I spend most of my time in a room behind a closed door with a towel under it to avoid the smells. I’ve found recent that putting Vicks vapor rub under my nose before going out to be social can be helpful. I’m also going to try a swimmers nose plug next. I’m loosing a lot of weight, so thinking about doing that nose plug thing while I’m eating to get some food in me until i figure out better what I can eat.

    What about you guys? Anything that’s worked? Tips?

    1. ashleycvh...I was the same. Lost my sense of smell with Covid in October 2020. Got it back. Then bam, last Spring things started smelling bad. Coffee smells bad, but I can drink it. Recently started buying Cold Brew in a bottle at the grocery store. Works well because you don't have to smell it brew! Meat, peanut butter, popcorn...smell awful. I can still eat most things but they are not the same.

      I just started the essential oil therapy on my own. Was looking out here to see if a Neti Pot would help.

      How are you doing now?

  14. Thanks for the information it really helps, hope you feeling much better

  15. I got Covid in August 2021. Lost my taste and smell and then got some degree of it back, maybe 50-60%. Around Thanksgiving, food and certain beverages started smelling disgusting. I guess garbage is the best way to describe, even though it doesn't smell like garbage, just indescribable honestly. Coffee, peanut butter, breads, boiled rice, pasta to name a few smell and taste awful. I can eat chocolate and desserts for the most part with no problem. I have learned that I can drink flavored coffee like Caramel Vanilla or Butter Toffee and they are okay. I have started the essential oils therapy and am going to see an ENT this week. I sure hope this goes away at some point.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A day in the life of someone suffering from parosmia

I have good smell days, and bad smell days.  Being a parosmic with a distorted sense of smell, I can usually tell what kind of day it is going to be by how the taste of my saliva is as soon as I wake up.  Just a hint of putrescence? Marvellous!  Like I have the worlds worst hangover and an African Elephant with Delhi Belly has had an unfortunate accident in my mouth?  Bad Smell day ahead!  Proceed with caution. A bad smell day will mean that I have to watch what I eat for the rest of the day, as it is likely to make me feel ill no matter how hard I try to avoid my "trigger" ingredients. Triggers are the things that guarantee I will have a bad reaction to something, even on the loveliest of "Good Smell Days".  These include, but are not limited to: Coffee:   Put simply, the smell of coffee is the worst thing in the world. On a good smell day it might take on the character of burnt, but still strangely sharp garlic, with just a hint of sewage beneath.  On a bad

An update ...

Oh, I had such plans for this blog, back in the when.  I had spoken to a number of perfumers who had suffered similar (and some very different, but still olfactory-related) conditions and I was going to make this blog more of a resource for smell-dysfunction sufferers, than a diary of my own condition. But then I think my life as a parosmic kind of took over, and I simply found it all too difficult to write about. The last two and a half years, since that fateful cold, have been dark, surreal and difficult, but not entirely without hope. However, if you're one of the readers who wrote to me me over the last 30 months or so, and were one of the ones I was unable to respond to because I was so wrapped up in my own situation, then please accept my heartfelt apologies. I'm sorry. I am very sorry. I didn't respond, not because I was ignoring those messages, or even because I didn't want to respond, but it was simply that it was too painful to relive my own situation ove