Why Am I Smelling Cigarette Smoke That Does Not Exist? – COVID-19 Survivor

I am not a smoker but I certainly know what a cigarette smoke smells like.

When I was younger, we used to have a store where we sell assortment of products like cigarette. When I was in primary school, I had a curiosity about it so I did try to taste the cigarette butt. I did not light it but it was enough for me to know how it tastes, and the idea of cigarette smell mainly stems from being a second-hand smoker.

My father used to smoke when I was a kid, and I was surrounded with neighbors who smoke too. Though I lived in a safe and quite nice neighborhood, I could not escape the cigarette smoke from people passing by me.

When I got the coronavirus and after I recovered, so much has changed in me. The most annoying thing about this whole situation is that I am smelling cigarette smoke wherever I go. Though nobody around me is lighting up a cigarette but the odor is in my freaking nose — and I refuse to say that it is just in my mind. I do not know what the heck is wrong with me. All I know is that this virus wrecks my nostrils. 

So..

Why Am I Smelling Cigarette Smoke That Does Not Even There?

According to healthline.com, this condition is called Phantosmia. It is a condition that causes someone to smell odors that are not actually there. When this happens, it is sometimes referred as olfactory hallucination.

Yes right, hallucination. This is why I am hesitant and almost never talked about it to anyone around me, and when I did tell someone about the weird odor I was smelling, he simply thought I was crazy.

I guess it is important to trace the origin of why I am experiencing this weird condition. So let me take you back to when this all started.

Phantosmia Due To COVID-19

On August of this year, I was infected with COVID-19. After a two-week of self-medicating and isolation, I purchased a rapid antigen kit to test if I still have the virus — fortunately the test was negative. I also talked about this on my previous blog as well the laboratory tests I did: X-ray, antibody test, and CBC. 

It took me three weeks to regain my health and go back to my routine but I knew I have not perfectly recovered yet. I still have a few lingering symptoms from the disease, and I felt like I will never be the same again. This may sound overdramatic but getting the illness is the worst thing that ever happened to me. I am simply lucky to be alive.

There are two remaining symptoms in my body caused by COVID: loss of smell and loss of taste.

Early on when I contracted the disease, these two symptoms are the ones noticeable. On August 17 I started having fever — on the same day, I also noticed the loss of smell and taste.

It is now September 29 so it has been over six weeks since I got sick from COVID. Now, I still have these symptoms of not being able to taste properly and the weird odor of cigarette’s smoke that is driving me insane.

Another weird thing about this is that not only I can smell smoke but there is also a taste of cigarette that I can sense from my mouth or tongue whichever you want to call it.

Yes I know it sounds surreal, but this is real. At least for me it is — and for others who are struggling to decipher what is going on with our sensory neurons — you are not alone.

I am a nurse by profession and this is something that makes me so curious about. So I began researching on why I was manifesting this kind of condition. I found out and never thought that I am not the only one (of course I am not) coz I was quite certain that the root cause of this is the coronavirus. There is no way I would have gotten this from other things other than this infamous coronavirus. 

Based on the information I looked up from the web, there was a research made about this lingering symptom of COVID-19 which is the distortion of the sense of smell. Last June of 2021, the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research found that out of 4,000 people who were COVID-19 positive, 7% of them have this altered sense of smell.

Well undoubtedly I am part of this 7% — are you?

How Can I Get Rid Of This Weird Cigarette Smoke Or Phantosmia?

This question has been on my mind the whole time, and just like you, I do not have the answer to it. I have not found a remedy nor substantial information on what makes us unique among others who also contracted the coronavirus.

Scientists are yet to figure out a cure to this condition, so the least thing we can do is to live with it and make sure we are updated with the current announcements from the WHO or any other organizations that tackle this type of issues. 

Why Am I Experiencing This Phantosmia And Not Other COVID-19 Survivors?

Just like the previous question, I thought a lot about this too, and I realized one very important fact that could perhaps shed some light to anyone who has been experiencing the same condition.

I got sick from August 17 — the exact day I had my first Moderna shot. At first, the fever, pain, fatigue, chills, and all other symptoms were due to the vaccination but I was wrong. It started to kicked out when the symptoms lasted for days. That was when I did a COVID test and found out I was positive. By the way I talked about this on my previous blog.

Just to reiterate, I was already infected with COVID-19 when I first got the Moderna vaccine. It was like both the vaccine and the virus entered my body at the same time so (perhaps) they clashed.

Not sure about you but for me this is getting worse. The smell of the cigarette smoke is getting stronger and weirder. I do not even know how to properly describe it aside from “it smells like a cigarette smoke.”

How It Feels To Have A Phantosmia?

It sucks coz it affects my appetite and mood. These days I often have mood swings, so I am irritable and avoidant even with the smallest things. Though I am trying to combat this situation by getting used to this condition, sometimes it just does not work.

Home Remedies for Phantosmia?

To be honest, I have tried some alternatives/tricks/strategies to get rid of the smell especially when I needed to like for instance, when I plan to eat something delicious and make sure to not smell the smoke — I just cannot remove it nor prepare my appetite for the food I am about to eat. However, I noticed that when I woke up from an amazing sleep like when my sleep is sufficient, after I exercised, took my vitamins, or when I am extra special — that is when I do not smell something weird or at least the smell is not that intense. So when my body is conditioned for that day, then my internal atmosphere is almost perfect. Whereas when I lack sleep, inactive for hours, and the like — I feel awful.

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