HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Smells of rotten trash, smoke and other weird scents are what some COVID-19 long hauler patients are experiencing.
Studies are being conducted around the world as the medical community is working to figure out more about long haulers.
Jeffrey Forbes said he tested positive for COVID-19 in February and continues to have a persistent cough and trouble catching his breath. He also says he smells something burning.
“Pretty early on, I was driving my wife and my son crazy because I kept wondering what was burning on the stove in the house,” said Forbes.
He said the burning smell would wake him up at night in a panic wondering if there was a fire.
“I would wake up and think the house is on fire,” said Forbes.
He said the smell will change in intensity. He said it sometimes it smells like someone is smoking a cigarette in the distance. He said pizza and other foods smell burnt when they are not.
Forbes believes he is a long hauler due to his long-lasting effects from COVID-19.
People who contracted the virus can suffer from a wide range of issues like fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and issues with their sense of smell.
Dr. Xian Qiao is a pulmonologist at Sentara Healthcare. He is seeing over 200 long-hauler patients at a clinic at Sentara Heart Hospital that focuses on long haulers.
He said some patients have been experiencing symptoms for a couple of weeks or months, while others experience symptoms longer.
“We know that this is a frustrating thing and that this is new and there’s no definitive answer to any of this right now, so everybody is trying to figure that out,” said Dr. Qiao.
He said only a few of his patients have issues with smells.
Forbes said his symptoms have made his life more difficult.
“I almost wish I lost my sense of smell instead of gaining the sense of smoke all the time,” said Forbes.
But he said he has gotten more used to it. He continues to get treated and hopes to eventually be back to his normal self.