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Phantosmia - what's that smell?


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I wasn't sure where to put this so here we are in NOS!

 

Does anyone else experience instances of phantosmia  aka olfactory hallucinations aka smelling smells that aren't there or aren't in concert with what's around you (for example, fruit you know is fresh smelling rotten or burnt, etc)?

 

It doesn't happen very often to me but when it does, it's pretty strong. Fortunately for me, they are pleasant odors and (I know this is so weird) it's usually fried chicken. It's happening right now - not sure what exactly it is, but I can smell bok choy and sesame oil, so it's an asian dish. Like I said, it's pleasant but it still makes me wonder what's going on. I've also smelled pizza and french fries in the past.

 

No, I don't live near any restaurants, I live in the woods. And no, they aren't smells of recently prepared foods - I always smell cooked foods and I don't cook (I made scrambled eggs in the microwave a few days ago, and that's about as far as it goes - I generally eat cold foods like hummus, veg, fruit, soy milk etc.)

 

It doesn't happen often; my memory is pretty shitty but I'd say it happens maybe once or twice a year and has been happening for maybe the past 3-5 years or so. I don't remember if I've mentioned it to my gdoc, pdoc or tdoc - like I said, shit for memory. But I'm writing it down after I post this to bring it up in my next session.

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The smell of burning wood is one of my auras. And before his surgery, DH smelled something sometimes before seizures, I can't remember what, sorry, brainmush. He doesn't have any auras at all, anymore, which is actually more difficult.

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I was told that olfactory hallucinations most typically are neurological, not psych. They, and deja vu, are thought to be somewhat common symptoms of temporal lobe simple partial seizures. Or not. One neuro said I should take seizure meds. Another said it was my call since I'd lived into my 40s without it ever turning into a general seizure. Note that I also had the deja vu. If it concerns you or is growing in frequency, go see a neurologist.

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Some smells are indicators of certain things (like the seizures) I know almond/marzipan is a common one for something like a stroke? 

I sometimes think I can smell things too, but I've never really had proof if they've existed? Sometimes I wonder if I just pick up on a lingering smell, other times I presume I've been so engrossed in my imagination I've smelt something I've been thinking of and then snapped back into reality and forgotten my day dream and wondered where the smell is from.

 

I smell strawberry yoghurt a lot, and smoked bacon.

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Thanks for the contributions and feedback. 

 

crtclms, my jaw is hanging open right now. Because shortly after writing that, one of my headaches came on. I hesitate to call them migraines because I've had migraines in the past, the only way they are similar are in the location and duration; above my right eye (sometimes my left, but normally my right) and lasts 12-18 hours but nowhere near the intensity or sensitivity of the migraines I used to have. Maybe I'm just having a milder form of them. I used to get fractal vision as an aura and it's been at least 10 years since I've experienced that.

 

I never made the connection between the smells and headaches before, so I don't know if that's the case or just a coincidence today. I'll have to start tracking it.

 

The smells haven't grown more frequent or more intense over time and (before now) I never associated them with any physical symptoms that followed/preceded.

 

Will be interesting to see what my pdoc has to say.

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haha Rosie...yeah, it's not like it's a *bad* thing I'm experiencing. It's just odd. The first time it happened I wasn't really fully aware it was happening. I was doing whatever I was doing and I could smell fried chicken and I was like "Mmmm....fried chicken!" and it took a few moments for it to register that there was absolutely no reason I should be smelling fried chicken. I even went around the house and outside to see if they smell was stronger and it never changed. Not at all unpleasant, just odd!

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With my migraines (rare) I have long had an associated burnt caramel smell, not unpleasant itself but now taken to mean a migraine is almost unavoidable.

 

When over two years ago I started having my vertigo issues, which turned out to be severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome developing, I acquired three more on intermittent occasions.  One  was a burning plastic smell, unfamiliar (I'm old enough to remember what hot bakelite smells like, and I've destroyed a few kit tanks and aircraft by fire in my time)

I mention that specifically because the other two smells were distinctly memory-related, if memory counts for anything.

One was a "beach holiday smell" a combination of suntan lotion, sand(?) and salt.   Unmistakable.

The other was of unsmoked tobacco.  I used to have tins with this smell given to me by my grandfather. The connection was firm and instant.

 

An MRI head-scan was part of my diagnostic procedures anyway, principally to eliminate acoustic nerve tumours, so these did not get massive attention when reported.

 

Chris.

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I occasionally smell things that aren't there (smell varies, but its usually an unpleasant smell like rotting fruit or poop). Sometimes it happens out of the blue, but when I am having psychotic Sx, I frequently also have olfactory hallucinations. During periods that I am seeing and hearing demons everywhere, I usually smell brimstone (burning sulphur).

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Hey, this is a really interesting thread.  Many times in the past I would small "phantom" smells and just put it down to a mystery or whatever.  It never meant anything to me nor do I recall it leading into something bad but nevertheless I would smell things that were not physically there to smell.  Wonder how that ties in with MIs? Curious. 

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  • 5 months later...

So this is the most recent forum I can find on this topic!! Hopefully some active users in March 2014...

 

I'm 24, female. Last summer I went to glastonbury festival. I was drinking heavily the whole time and so was taking vitamins while I was there (futile really!) The vitamin c tablets I took smelled really strong of orange which I thought was gross but took them anyway. On the 5th and final day there, I had really bad indigestion and could smell citrus.. but it was a kind of rotten citrus smell. Fast forward 9 months and I'm still suffering from this phantom smell.

 

It was embarrassing at first, I'd say to my friends can you smell that? Its like...burnt rotten fruit. And they said I was losing my mind. Pretty convinced I was. On a hot day when the heat was coming off the tarmac it got so bad I felt like crying. Makes food taste horrible and lose my appetite completely. I get it more when I'm hungover or if I'm feeling stressed or anxious. And I still suffer from terrible heartburn and indigestion which I've had relentlessly for about 4 years anyway, it's worse when I have that. 

 

My friends said it was from taking drugs at Glastonbury but I feel it's unrelated, nothing went up my nose at all! Just a lot of smoking. After a lot of reading up online because I was concerned about tumours/seizures, I went to my GP (never heard of it), had an MRI scan and they found absolutely nothing abnormal. In january I was prescribed PPIs finally for my heartburn which worked a total dream and I barely had the phantosmia, I've since run out of my prescription and am waiting for more and the phantosmia is back in a big way. 

 

Could it be related? I've had heartburn for 4 years but only started suffering with the phantosmia 9 months ago. Does anyone use anything to lessen the smell?

 

Help! 

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i've had this happen to me on certain medications.  when i stopped the medication, i stopped smelling things that weren't there (the most common one was cat pee, ew).  so maybe certain medications can take the smells away, too?  i have no idea.  at any rate, if the PPI is working keep taking it!  i'd be curious to know why if it were me too, though.

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Could it be related? I've had heartburn for 4 years but only started suffering with the phantosmia 9 months ago. Does anyone use anything to lessen the smell?

 

Help! 

 Heartburn and its many manifestations, from eructation to GERDS, can and does, attribute to some interesting smells and or tastes. I would think the citrus smell is directly attributable to what you smoked and/or ingested when taking vitamin C that seemingly repelled you. That experience would seemingly be imbedded in your memory and burping or heartburn sets the memories forward.

 

Take the PPI with care as in and of themselves they can cause difficulties...

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2011/April/proton-pump-inhibitors

 

Do you have a MI diagnosis or are you just searching for a single topic?

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  • 5 years later...

Interesting thread...years ago starting a med gave me really unpleasant smell & taste hallucinations: the smell rotting food and poo (?!),...and when eating fried rice, it tasted like an ashtray with cigarette butts (and I've NEVER smoked!) was sooooo bizarre. Only had it that one time.

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