Woman who had Covid says food tastes like ‘wet dog’ leaving her ‘wanting to vom’

A woman who caught coronavirus almost a year ago still hasn't regained her sense of smell, meaning everything she tries to eat now tastes disgusting.

Clare Freer revealed to Birmingham Live that she has developed a condition called parosmia, which she says makes "everything smell like wet dogs and stale perfume".

The 47-year-old can't even enjoy tap water any more, as it smells putrid now and she is living off cereal and cheese sandwiches only as the thought of any other food leaves Clare "wanting to vomit".

The after-effects of COVID-19 have meant Clare has had to give up all of her favourite food and drinks and she has to buy all of her household products and toiletries as unscented.

Clare, from Sutton Coldfield, completely lost her sense of smell and taste when she got Covid.

"Everything smells vile to me – I can't describe the smell, it's a combination of wet dogs, stale perfume, as though something's burning or a really strong chemical," said Clare.

"I go dizzy with the smells and everything smells disgusting."

Toothpaste, fruit and meat are particularly foul-smelling to Clare, with coffee, alcohol, onions, perfume and cleaning products having the same effect.

The condition has impacted her family life, with Clare saying she can't even sit around the table with her family when they're eating.

Clare lives with her partner Andy, a telecommunications engineer, one of her two daughters and her stepson.

Not being able to engage in normal family life brings Clare to tears.

"As a family we have not sat round the table for months because I cannot bear to be in the same room as them when they're eating food," she said.

"Tea times are the worst. I get distressed and cry because I don't know what to cook for them.

"At first I cooked normal meals for them – wearing a clip on my nose – but eventually I had to stop even that as it was making me ill.

"Then I gave them microwave meals and I'd go and sit in my bedroom while they ate them."

The impact on Clare's mental health has been huge. She says she's apprehensive to leave the house, in case she catches a whiff of something while in public.

"I wake up every morning, sniff the air and hope and pray it smells either of nothing or just normal fresh air," said Clare.

"The worst place is the kitchen because it's full of all kinds of odours from food and drink."

The only foods Clare says she can stomach are bread and cheese, and one particular brand of cereal.

"I have cheese sandwiches every day for lunch, and I'll cut them up in triangles or squares, just for a bit of variety!" she said.

MRI scans on her brain and sinuses came back negative, and she even had a camera up her nose as doctors looked for the cause of the parosmia.

It confirmed Clare's suspicions that Covid was the cause.

Upon doing research to find out more, Clare found a Facebook group with 6,000 members set up by the smell loss charity, AbScent.

Finding others that had parosmia after contracting Covid-19 has really helped Clare.

"They have been my saviours, to know there are others suffering in the same way and we give each other tips about what foods to try and other advice," she said.

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