COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A loss of smell and taste are two distinct symptoms of COVID-19, and for some people they don’t return. For others, smell returns in a disturbing, distorted way.

There is a definite impact on quality of life, although some people can recover after Olfactory Training, according to scientific studies.

Minka Schofield, MD, who’s an Associate Professor and an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said during a June interview with NBC4’s Cynthia Rosi that problems can range from all smells smelling like garlic, or cigarette smoke — even feces [phantosmia] — to a person’s total loss of smell [anosmia} and with it, the sense of taste.

Wake up — and can’t smell the coffee

“If you can’t smell coffee we would call that perhaps a loss of smell, especially if you’re not smelling other items as well,” Schofield said. “This has been a more common complaint that we’re finding in patients that have had the COVID infection.”

“The other problem that I’m finding is phantosmia, which is: ‘Why do I smell smoke? I’m smelling cigarette smoke constantly,’ or, ‘I’m smelling feces constantly and it’s not there,'” she said. “I have one patient who complains of a garlic smell constantly, knowing that it’s not there. Those are the things that are happening most often.”

A study published by Oxford University Press said in the abstract that smell distortions negatively affected quality of life, with distorted smell “showing a higher range of severity than phantosmia” which is smell without an odor actually prompting it.

Although doctors can try steroid therapy, it doesn’t always work. “Oftentimes we will try steroid therapy, but there is really no consistent evidence that steroid therapy is effective particularly in COVID infection,” Schofield said in the interview. “But it is worth trying, whether that’s via a pill or a nasal spray.”

Re-train yourself to smell again

One treatment Schofield recommends is to teach the nose and brain to learn to smell again through reminding it what common objects smell like.

A simple way is to hold an object directly under your nose, take a big sniff, and say to yourself the name of the object. While taking a deep whiff and saying: “This is a lemon, this is a lemon” to re-train the brain might seem silly, it can work. Repeat for other objects that have a strong odor and that you need to smell again.

Scientists have tested Olfactory Training, and found it works, particularly in older people.

People who’ve lost their sense of smell can get anxious, depressed, or lose their appetite. If these things have happened to you following COVID, let your doctor know.