What is it about?

Smell disorders are common in patients with COVID-19. Such patients lose their sense of smell partly or completely. When vaccinated, these patients report side effects. These include pain at the injection site, fever, and fatigue. However, smell disorders after vaccination have not been studied. This paper discusses “phantosmia” or “smell hallucination.” Specifically, it reports a 57-year-old woman who started “smelling smoke” constantly after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. She did not complain of any other problems related to smell. When tested for COVID infection, she reported negative. Imaging showed that the nerves that control the sense of smell were thickened and clumped. Furthermore, the regions involved in sensing smell were found to be swollen. These results support the observations in COVID-19 patients who experienced a loss of smell. Furthermore, the study suggests a potential role of the immune system in smell disorders after vaccination.

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Why is it important?

Smell is an important sensation. Partial or complete loss of smell can be disabling and reduces quality of life. Patients with COVID-19 have been shown to develop a loss or altered sense of smell. These may have long-term effects after the infection subsides and can be problematic. Understanding how these smell disorders work can help develop treatments to minimize its long-term effects. This paper is the first to show that smell disorders can be a potential side effect of COVID-19 vaccines. KEY TAKEAWAY: It is well known that COVID-19 infection causes a loss of sense of smell.COVID-19 vaccination may also cause similar side effects.

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This page is a summary of: Unique Imaging Findings of Neurologic Phantosmia Following Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 Vaccination: A Case Report, Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, June 2021, Wolters Kluwer Health, DOI: 10.1097/rmr.0000000000000287.
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