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You Smell!: A Look into Olfactory Hallucinations

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Biology 202
2006 Second Web Paper
On Serendip

You Smell!: A Look into Olfactory Hallucinations

Carolyn Dahlgren

If you were to take a poll asking people to name which of the five senses that they could most easily live without, I am willing to bet that the sense of smell would be many people's top choice. There are, however, many people who do live without the sense of smell; just like a blind person lives without sight or a deaf person without sound. Anosmia is a condition that occurs when a person lacks the sense of smell. Dysfunctions of the sense of smell can be congenital. A number of different diseases, conditions, and medications can lead to olfactory disturbances. It may also occur for other reasons; "A number of different diseases, conditions, and medications can lead to olfactory disturbances. Major causes of olfactory dysfunction: obstructive nasal and sinus diseases, upper respiratory viral infections, head trauma, and in 22% of cases no cause is ever found (idiopathic)" 1.

Your sense of smell may seem like a trivial sense compared to something like sight or sound. The role of the nose, however, is severely under appreciated. Most people realize that the senses of smell and taste go hand and hand. When I was a child, my mother used to have me hold my nose before drinking medicine in order to diminish the taste. When you have a cold and your nose is stuffed-up, things taste bland or strange. The sense of smell enhances the flavor of the foods we consume. Lacking a sense of smell may seem like it could be a blessing, especially if one has to take some noxious medicine or, perhaps, if a skunk is nearby. The idea, however, loses some if its charm when thinking about what it would be like to have a deadened sensation of pleasant stimuli such as homemade cookies or chocolate cake. The appeal of anosmia is totally striped away if you imagine unintentionally eating spoiled food. Our sense of smell is an important self-preservation device. "It serves as an important early warning system for the detection of fire, dangerous fumes, leaking gas, and spoiled food" 1. Smell is also plays a key part in social interactions. "It enhances socialization and interpersonal relationships by protecting against objectionable body odors" 1. Smells have also been found to be a form of communication. Pheromones are chemical signals, smells that animals use to transmit messages to other organisms. "There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology" 8.

Unlike the other five senses, smell and taste are known as the chemical senses. This is because these senses are the result of external chemical stimuli acting directly upon sensory neurons. Airborne chemicals, which are actually particles from the things that are smelled, stimulate special receptors, called chemoreceptor because the chemical interact directly with these receptors. "These receptors are very small - there are at least 10 million of them in your nose - ...each with the ability to sense certain odor molecules. Research has shown that an odor can stimulate several different kinds of receptors. The brain interprets the combination of receptors to recognize any one of about 10,000 different smells" 3. When these receptors are stimulated, information is sent along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb which is the part of the brain that is associated with the sense of smell. "The olfactory bulb is the most rostral (forward) part of the human brain" 7 and is located just above the nasal cavity. It sends signals to the other parts of the brain to help interpret the sensory information it receives and to translate them into the different smells we can recognize.

Thus far, this paper has discussed anosmia, the lack of ability to sense smells. There are, however, a wide range of other olfactory dysfunctions; "approximately two to five million American adults suffer from disorders of taste and smell" 2. There are two particularly intriguing disorders that I wish to highlight: parosmia and phantogeusia. Parosmia is a distortion of the olfactory sense. People with parosmia report smelling scents that are incongruent with the olfactory stimuli presented. An "affected person reports smelling something other than the scent which is present... for example, the person sniffs a banana but it smells like rotting flesh instead of a banana" 9. Phantogeusia is an 'olfactory hallucination'. A person reports a smell (and sometimes an associated taste in the back of the mouth) for which no external stimulus can be found. "There is no odorant present, but the affected person reports smelling something, usually something unpleasant" 9. Phantogeusia smells are not only noxious, they are also longer lasting than most olfactory experiences. "When a normal person smells an unpleasant scent, sensory adaptation takes place rather quickly -- within a few minutes the scent seems to have disappeared. The unpleasant scents in parosmia and phantosmia can, however, be very long-lasting" 9.

Why do some people have these olfactory misinterpretations? What is the brain doing during olfactory hallucinations? Unfortunately, there is not a very in-depth range of literature about olfactory dysfunctions. There are, however, some interesting similarities between smell 'hallucinations' and other reports of 'hallucinations', namely the phantom limb phenomenon experienced by some amputee victims. Perhaps olfactory hallucinations could be understood by extrapolating from some theories about phantom limbs. The phantom limb sensation is the experience of a feeling, usually pain, in a limb that has been amputated. Even though nerve connections have been severed and the nervous tissues have been taken away, many amputee outpatients report experiencing sensations in their amputated limbs. In a previous web paper for our course, Christy Taylor explored the etiology of phantom limb hallucination and explained that the phenomenon may be a product of inconsistencies between the sensory information received by the brain and the brain's corollary discharge signals, signals from the output side of the brain which sends feedback to the brain about motor output. "Corollary discharge signals are used to define expectation, and when the sensory input does not match this expectation, the nervous system sends out a signal that says 'there is something wrong' which may be felt as pain in the phantom limb"6. Phantom limb pains, like the unpleasant scents experienced in parosmia and phantosmia, are often intense and long-lasting.

If sensations of noxious smells are the olfactory equivalent to pain, then parosmia and phantosmia seem to be an olfactory equivalent to phantom limb pain. This observation may be a useful, new perspective on these olfactory dysfunctions, but it still does not explain why they occur. Why should a person receive sensory inputs from the nose that are incongruent with the corollary discharge messages? For phantom limbs this is a simple matter, there are no sensory inputs from the amputated limb and the brain thinks there should be, but for parosmia and phantosmia there is no reason for the signal to be incongruent. This is especially true for this 'chemical' sense of smell - olfactory sensory input is a result of direct interaction of neurons and molecules from the things that are smelled. And what about people with anosmia? Why don't they have phantom smells? There are still a lot of questions to explore but one thing is clear, the olfactory sense is a lot more complicated than we may think and we should appreciate our working senses of smell.


1. Anosmia Foundation. "Anosmia".

2. Anosmia Foundation. "Smell Disorders".

3. Cook, Steven P., MD and Gavin, Mary L. Gavin, MD. "What's That Smell? The Nose Knows". Updated: July 2004.

4. How Staff Works. "The Nose".

5. "The Sense of Smell". Updated: Oct. 22, 2005.

6. Taylor, Christy. "Phantom Limbs". /bb/neuro/neuro98/202s98-paper2/Taylor2.html. Updated: 1998.

7. Wikipedia. "Olfactory Bulb".

8. Wikipedia. "Pheromone".

9. Wuensch, Karl L. Ph.D. "Parosmia and Phantosmia". Updated: Jan. 15, 2005.



Comments made prior to 2007
I was looking for information on phantosmia as I have Samter's triad: aspirin intolerance, nasal polyps and asthma. I have lost my sense of smell although it did reappear for a while when I had the polyps surgically removed. I fear they have grown back as I can't smell any more. I do have smell hallucinations, however. (in your article it asks why people with anosmia don't have phantosmia). At the moment I can smell a horse-chestnut bath foam. It is overpowering, constant, and I've had it for a week. Sometimes it's fireworks, polystyrene cups or damp pencil shavings. I was wondering how or if it is connected to the nasal polyps ... Jacqui Saunders, 3 September 2006


Serendip Visitor's picture

olfactory hallucinations

I'm 59 yrs. old, non smoker, considered healthy and active. In 2011 I had 3 dental implants installed using 2 post inserts. During the year-long series of visits I had what was called a nasal "lift" to provide clearance at the back of the throat. I have been told this "lift" will sometimes cause phantom smells. After the implants I've had many periods of what are referred to as nasal hallucinations. Initially they were burning paper, lasted a few hours and were not too bothersome. However, they rapidly became very strong and can be of any type of smell - paint thinner, laundry dryer sheets, damp earth, the list is endless. Sometimes they last for a week, interrupting my sleep.

Linda's picture

Anosmia with phantosmia

The author asks the question: And what about people with anosmia? Why don't they have phantom smells?
i have anosmia as the result of a bad fall. Six months later I smelled gasoline for a split second. The next day I smelled cinnamon for an equally brief period. I'm now in a several day period of smelling a very pleasant fragrance, with no known source for, extended periods (as much as a day or more) but am still completely unable to smell defined pleasant or potently bad odors.

Serendip Visitor's picture

phantom smells

I just got this brief, strong smell of a ripe banana while sitting in my living room and there is not a banana in my entire house. It left as fast as it came. It happened to me last week at work when I smelled tulips while sitting at the nurses station and there were no flowers around. I can't explain it. About 4 years ago, I smelled honey suckle strong enough to feel like I was standing in the middle of an entire bush of it and then it was gone. That happened at work (another job) in the middle of a large room. Nobody else could smell it.

Karen Grohs's picture

me too

This sounds like what I've had - a couple of times, I've smelled various flowers (when none were in the house), once paint (which I don't find unpleasant), and once cinnamon. The smells only last a few seconds to a few minutes.

amal hasan's picture

head trauma

I fall on the back of my head 2 years ago since that time I lost sense of smell and i had bad taste all the time my mouth and tonge inflammed all the time too. I do not know what to do I went to many doctors and I do not get any help I want only ask if any body Know how long it will take untill this bad taste and the inflammation go away please i need help

Serendip Visitor's picture

Amal, some thoughts

For the swelling in your mouth, try going gluten-free. I have a good friend who suddenly developed a gluten sensitivity, and that was her main symptom.

Whit's picture

Subdural Hematoma & olfactory hallucinations

I am 28 and have a subdural hematoma due to head trauma 2 months ago. I completely lost my sense of smell, butt the past week I have been smelling a foul odor of yeasty old bread and thick spices. It turns my stomach and makes it difficult to enjoy food. I have the taste in the back of my throat as well. I cannot mask the smell by smelling other items, since they do not register; the only thing I smell is this phantom odor and it is awful! Has anyone else experienced this? And did it eventually go away? I have had 2 MRIs and it is not believed that my smell will return, I just hope the phantom smells are not permanent. I am also 6 months pregnant, but the issue seems to be related strictly to the hematoma / head trauma.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Sense of smell

Hi whit,

I noticed your post when googling this phenomenon and identified with your comment, I can smell the same smell you describe and have done for the past month-6 weeks. My sense of taste is dull too. Unlike yourself though I don't know what to put it down too. I did hit my head pretty hard in some large surf about this time. Anyway, what I'm wondering is if you are still experiencing this or if you have been able to minimize/reduce the smell at all. As you say- sometimes it makes me feel nauseous and food is a bore! Strong smells just result in a stronger version of the same smell.

Thank you :)

Serendip Visitor's picture

Strange soapy menthol taste

I have been living with a strong soapy/minty taste for three months, and also a cold sunburn feeling on the skin on the face and sometimes the back of the head and hands. It is like when you rub in menthol muscle rub. I also have a feeling like I have menthol vapours in my eyes. I also have a cold feeling on the roof of my mouth and in my throat. Lips tingle and feel strange. I have seen a neurologist who tells me these are bizarre but real symptoms of 5th cranial nerve irritation. This can happen lots of ways, from a dental infection, to injuring the upper spine.

I had cemented in a loose crown myself to a dead root, and an oral pathologist thinks bacteria maybe got into my upper jaw and nerves. I also had a dental implant last year so this also could be the cause of the trigeminal nerve irritation. I have been told it is self limiting and will resolve in time. However, nerves can be notoriously difficult to heal and symptoms can also cycle.

If you have my symptoms think about your teeth or your neck - did you injure anything.

Dave's picture

olfactory hallucination - bodily odors

I've been experiencing similar olfactory-hallucination-like symptoms for at least 4 years. It varies from time to time and even goes away entirely for long times. I started noticing sometime after I started wearing some wrist-bands made from stainless steel bicycle spokes. Of course sweating may cause some kind of chemical or galvanic reaction with them but what I began to notice was a strong metallic smell that seemed to be coming from my own body - specifically EITHER wrist, even though I only wore the bands on one wrist. No one else could smell it. I eventually stopped wearing them but the smell had disappeared independently.

Then it became a repeating random sense of overall odor from my own body specifically arms, armpits and torso. At times it seemed so bad I didn't want to be around other people. I got really self-conscious about it and would shower frequently but smell it to some degree even while drying off. It seems to change from season to season. Once I thought it was due to an overly successful tomato garden and my consumption of 3-4 tomatoes a day for several months. Later it was a different smell - always really strong but varying from one case to the next. I finally asked my girlfriend about it when I was apparently wreaking and she said she didn't notice anything unpleasant. Then one day it just stopped.

For the past two years I have lived in a house with a pellet stove that I sue when it's cold but at any time of year I may be somewhere away from the house and suddenly smell pellets. Then there are times I don't smell something that others do smell. I chop up onions and - smell nothing yet I smell the usual things okay. I'm seeing my doctor in a couple of weeks and I plan to examine this in detail.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I was wondering what does

I was wondering what does mean if you can smell pencil lead on and off, and not be near any kind of pencil or lead?

Steve's picture

Strange pencil lead smell

The pencil lead smell is quite distinque when I cough up some sputum I have copd . Maybe this is a sine of infection down in my lungs?


Serendip Visitor  C.j. 's picture

Olfactory Hallucinations

Dear Walter,
I think I might have some answers for some of these poor people with this affliction. I will put this in a condensed version and if you want more details, I would be glad to share them. I had an internal Coblat/Chromium poisoning due to a metal-on-metal hip prosthesis. I had been suffering a multitude of issues, 19 in total, for a few years before my extensive research shed some light on the subject. My issues were headaches, nausea, restless leg syndrome, vision disturbances, olfactory hallucinations, lack of appetite, weight loss, sleep deprivation, depression and unfortunately .....cognitive slowing, to name just a few. The cobalt was, in my opinion, the cause for many of these issues, but the Chromium had its part as well. It was proven to morph DNA cells, causing birth defects. I was assured if I wasn't planning on having any more children, I shouldn't worry about the effects of this type of Chromium. There are two types of Chromium; 3 and 6. Chr6 is related directly to cancer, Chr3....just the DNA cells (and has since, been found to relate indirectly to cancer). Well, DNA cells are produced in the hippocampus region of the brain which is in the forward region. The hippocampus also controls the olfactory senses as well as the body clock and more. My conclusion is that the Chr3 effected more than just the DNA cells. Now, to add just a little more, my Restless Leg Syndrom started soon after my metal-laden hips were installed. There are findings that show RLS can be brought on by toxic poisoning. This whole time, I was being fed the required iron by the toxins. So, since the toxins finally processed out of my sytem, I showed an extreme case of iron deficiancy. Which, the lack of iron in my system caused the RLS to get worse. Just FYI, Anemia used to be treated with cobalt. So, I hope this can be of interest to all suffering from any one of these symptoms.

Walter Vanast's picture

C.j. Thanks ever so much for

C.j. Thanks ever so much for your kindness in answering my query and providing those details. How sorry I am you went through all that. I've made close note of the metal involved etc and at some point I am sure to come across patients with a somewhat similar history and will tell them of your experience. WV

C.j.'s picture

Cobalt/Chromium poisoning

Dear Walter,

I am now trying to get ANYONE to provide a 'casual link' between the toxins and word finding issues. I have retained a symptom they told me would go away, but hasn't. Aphasia? Since there is no history of this internal-type poisoning, they hesitate to say it could be the culprit. My attorney is looking for someone to provide this 'casual link' to move forward with my case. This needs to come through ASAP and unfortunately, I have nothing as yet.

John Smith's picture

loss of smell

Just want to put it out there. I had an addiction to poppers (Amyl Nitrate) about 10 years ago. I wonder whether this could be responsible for my smell going away at about that time. I have not read solvent abuse such as 'poppers' being responsible for loss of smell on the internet but wonder if anyone has heard different

I too have phantom smells but all are pleasant. I do realize that they are smells from my past e.g. soap used as a kid, smells associated with being on vacation e.g.Cedar

walter vanast's picture

chemicals in a case of phantosmia + dysgeusia

The chemicals probably involved in my patient with phantosmia, anosmia, dysosmia, dysgeusia, phantageusia, and tingling tongue include the following, all involved in the photo-processing steps used in pre-digital-era automated commercial photo booths of the type placed in commercial malls. I. Hydroquinone ]2-2(-ethoxyethoxy)-ethanol]. II. A bleach containing sulfuric acid and potassium iodide. III. A fixer containing Ammonium Thiosulfate and Potassium Sulfite. IV. A Toner containing Sodium Hydroxide and Thiourea. Some products are delivered to the central work site in powder form, including IV. A bleach that contains bichromate of potassium anydrite and sodium bisulphite. V. A Developer containing hydroquinone, sodium sulphite, and sodium hydroxide. VI. A clearing substance containing sodium sulphite and sodium metabisulphite. Employees poured all used chemicals into the city drains, sometimes one after the other, causing a noxious gas that irritated the nose and throat, caused coughing, transient blurring of concentration, etc. if anyone can help identify what substances are released if the bleach was sent down the drain shortly after the toner, etc. I would be most appreciative--it may help reverse the decision to deny the patient any compensation, and negate the opinion of the public health expert that there was no relationship between these chemicals and the patient's irreversible syndrome (no improvement in the two years since I first saw him). The chemistry is beyond me, but seeing the injustice to the patient and his continued suffering is not, and any sharing of knowledge will be most welcome.

walter vanast's picture

phantosmia + dysgeusia due to industrial toxins

I have a patient who after years of exposure to the chemicals used in commercial-mall photo-booths (for developing, washing, and fixing the film) gradually lost his smell and concomitantly developed pervasive dysosmia, parosmia, phantosmia, dysgeusia, phantageusisa etc. Unfortunately the workmen's compensation board denied his claim after a public health expert denied any such thing could happen, missed his loss of smell and taste,treated the patient disdainfully, and in effect sent him back to work (to which neither the patient nor I agreed). On the basis of that same expert's opinion, the long=term health insurance the patient carried was also not activated. The patient's symptoms worsen in the evening, which makes falling asleep more difficult, and his sleep is disturbed, as the phantosmia is intense during brief awakenings. That in turn leads to chronic fatigue and depression. So his life is to a great extent ruined by events over which he had no control and the long, faithful execution of his work for his employer under conditions that failed to meet industrial safety standards. I have appealed (for the patient) the various rulings and wonder if anyone can help with information concerning similar cases.

rhonda's picture


I didn't know so many people dealt with this. Its driving me crazy!!! I lost my sense of smell gradually over a year or so.Haven't been able to smell in about 3 or 4 years. At times I would think I smelled something burning for a minute and it was gone or I would smell gas and then it would go away. I layed down the other night and was overwhelmed by the smell of vick salve it was burning my eyes my throat it was horribe. It stayed with me for a day or so. What's even more crazy is I can feel cold (like menthol cold) on my face and hands!! Then that smell just turned into an overwheming gas smell. I can't take a deep breath half the time it cuts off my breath!!! Anyone ever dealt with this before?

Grace B's picture


For a few weeks each year, always in the winter, I have suffered from phantosmia (like right now) and have thought that I was going crazy. It's the smell of stale cigarette smoke, which is the MOST offensive odor I know (and, yes, I have smelled rotting flesh)and no matter what I try I only get minimal relief.
Thank you to Serendip Visitor for the migraine connection. I've suffered from three different types over the course of 25 years, but I never thought to ask my neurologist if these episodes could be related to the migraines. If I get any info from my doctor I'll post it here.

Joie's picture

anosmia AND phantosmia

In late February 2011 I had an URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) along with a horrific, wracking cough. I went to an Urgent Care Center because my doc isn't in on Sundays, and was prescribed Donatuss (with codeine) for the cough, Zithromax (Z-pack) to avert possible pneumonia, and Ventolin to open my airways.

When I got over the worst of it, my sense of smell was basically gone. AND, from time-to-time, I smell cigarette smoke. BTW, I work and live in a non-smoking environment.

Other meds that I'm taking: Synthroid, imipramine, Estratest HS, alendronate (Fosamax), multi-vitamin, and 81mg aspirin.

I guess I'm going to have to see my doc about this...I mean, if this was caused by the URI, shouldn't it have resolved the smell problems by now? Any ideas?


Serendip Visitor's picture

i've had this smell like

i've had this smell like smoke for a few months first it was just every now and then...i thought it was the heat in my home but when i started smelling it no matter where i was i thought i was going crazy!! nobody else can smell it!! Now i smell it several times throughout the day..I too take Synthroid that's what made me respond to your post...maybe it has something to do with the medicine?..I don't know but it's very annoying especially when it's very strong.

Joie's picture


I've been taking Synthroid for about 8 years and haven't had any loss of smell until after the URI back in February 2011 that I mentioned.

Also, I've been in the printing industry since 1981, BUT in digital, not offset (where all those horrid chemicals to clean the presses, etc., are used).

The URI (and the associated meds) SEEMS to be the only catalyst. But, who knows? People develop allergies in their later years when they hadn't been allergic previously...

Serendip Visitor's picture

phantosmia - hormone related

I too have had phantosmia (burnt rubber smell) every month twice a month for a few days in a row, that comes in waves. At its worst, it makes me gag. But I guess over 5 years of it.. I have gotten used to it.

So from what the physicians can tell, they think it is all migraine related. So we will see. At least no headache during that spell. :-) Just wish there was a concrete answer to all of this. I also have lovely vertigo constant in my life. Among other things.

mjm's picture

I guess I'm lucky

9 out of 10 times, it's a sense that I am smelling something good. This began happening to me about 10 years ago, in my early 40s. I would be alone in my house, the kids were in grade school, and I'd smell roses. I wasn't very happy to read up on the internet it might be a brain tumor! 10 years later now it has started again, so I doubt it's a brain tumor, or the slowest-growing one in history. Now I am experiencing that I am smelling sandalwood, which is about my favorite scent in the world. If I have to have these hallucinations, at least they are pleasant and not bothersome.

Serendip Visitor too's picture

Sandalwood - interesting

I've had symptoms for about 3 months now, starting with a one week episode where the smells were there all my waking hours. Now it is more intermittent. MRI - negative. I just found it interesting since I too compare the odor to sandalwood. (During the one intense episode, the normally pleasant scent of sandalwood was more like sitting in a small room with 6 women wering too much perfume!) I'm seeing an ENT this week since I know this isn't 'normal' in any sense of the word, so I will continue to investigate... and pray that it remains a pleasant odor. Causes? The only thing I can think of is that I had a double ear infection that took 3 rounds of anti-biotics to clear up in the 6-8 weeks prior to this starting.

Pamela Dalby's picture


I have had this problem with smelling a strong chemical, petrol type smell for about 2 years and it is getting more frequent and prolonged in its duration. It is starting to depress me and makes me feel sick. I had no idea that there were so many sufferers out there. I have taken the plunge to find out more about what I perceive to be quite a debilitating factor in my life. I tend to use menthol nasal inhalants and Vicks vaporub in my nostrils to try to diguise the chemical smell. This is very temporary and I worry about the longterm effects on my nasal mucosa.

Louise's picture

phantosmia and Vaporub

Check the ingredients on the Vaporub you are using inside your nostrils. My daughter had checked and found that some of such
preparations have turpentine in them. Not what you would probably want to put on your mucous membranes quite frequently.

Wendy's picture

masking chemical smell

In hospitals nurses and staff use peppermint oil swabbed on their upper lip to mask smells such as gangrenous tissue. I think you can just buy it at health stores, but I don't know that it will work on a smell that doesn't exist. I sympathize. I had a hallucination for a day and a half that actually smelled malevolent, evil, although I can't explain what that means. I still smell a small whiff pretty frequently that brings back that feeling of evil and it lasts for hours again.

Serendip Visitor's picture

"Evil" Smell

I have had "evil smell" experiences like the one you describe. This has been happening intermittently for about 3 years. The circumstances under which I detect this hallucinatory odor (no one else can smell it) have made me wonder if this is my body's way of detecting something that may actually be malevolent or evil. When I smell it, it is always accompanied by waves of chills. It was suggested to me that there are things we cannot detect with our usual five senses, but we may be sensitive to negative, unfriendly beings or energies, and that the smell is how our bodies interpret their presence. This smell moves around my house, and I have smelled it near very sick people, such as a man in a wheelchair outside a hospital.

Anna's picture

A connection between fears and phantosmia?

Is there a connection with phobias/fears and phantosmia? Or for that matter any Hallucinations?
For example being deathly allergic and overly afraid of tobacco and smelling it in an environment it cannot have been in.

MadeUpName's picture


I had a Janetta procedure in 1985 followed by a RFT Rhizotomy in 2000. The Janetta procedure left me with severe, and I mean terrifying, phantosmia. The occurrences are almost always triggered by a scent such as shampoo, food, the dog etc but are never the expected smell and severe enough to impair the ability to function. I've tried just about every seizure med out there but none of them help.

Tim Stone's picture

Phantogeusia definition incorrect

Phantogeusia is the tasting of something that is not there.

Phantosmia is an olfactory hallucination.

dave marshall's picture

I frequently smell something

I frequently smell something sweet, maybe related to creosote, which I used to think came from my lap dog. acquired 1.5 years ago. I now recognize this as an olfactory hallucination, and don't know if I'm pre-alzheimeric, potentially schizo, or what. I don't have seizures, ain't too crazy, no headaches, haven't used hallucinogenics for decades (and then not much), and would like to get this stink out of my nose. Help!

Jenn's picture

phantom smell??

I've been smelling blood everywhere I go.I'm really afraid of blood, and I vomit or pass out when I smell too much of it,so for the past 4 days I've been walking around gagging non-stop.At first I thought I was smelling my own blood,but now I really don't know what to think.

Anonymous's picture

phantom smell

I too have nasal polyps and have not been able to smell or taste for 10 years. I am now having phantom smells, I have a very strong smell of perfume up my nose and back of my throat for 4 days. It is very distracting. I have also had the smell of pencil shavings, this seems like a common one. I believe it is a case of the brain inserting olfactory hallucinations to fill in for the absence of any smell stimulus. Not pleasant at all though.

Broken Nose's picture

Re: phantom smell

Me Too! For weeks now I've been trying figure out who in my office work place has been showering themselves in perfume. I've only recently begun to notice that I smell this perfume everywhere I go. It's starting to give me headaches and make me slightly dizzy.....You say nasal polyps can cause this?

CHASITY 's picture



Anonymous's picture


It sounds like you might actually be experiencing phantosmia. Buy some Simply Saline or similar "pump" saline nasal spray. Lean forward with your head facing the ground and spray. Hold that position. See if you get any relief. There is a doctor, Donald A Leopold at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who specializes in these smell disorders, you can Google him. He might be able to help you. Also, there is the Parosmia/Phantosmia Support Group on Yahoo that is very helpful to people, I am one of the moderators of that group.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I have been suffering from a smell disorder for 2.5 years. I smell chemical type smells most of the time. It seems to be less when I'm outside. I smell it strongest on my body, in the shower (water), and around electrically equipment such as t.v. or computers. It's awful! I've been to so many doctors and the problem has NOT been identified, instead being dismissed completely. I'm going to try the saline nasal spray. Any other suggestions? What type of doctor show I see? I've already been to a GP, ENT, Neologist, GYN (thinking it was hormone related). HELP!!


Anonymous's picture


Hi brother.I m facing same problem.I m from India.Here my family Doctor said to use FLIXONASE Nasal spray and NEurobin Tablet.Daily 1 puff in da morning n Evening.n u hav to take this tablet in da morning after ur tiffin..byee..

Anonymous's picture

I am a recovering marijuana

I am a recovering marijuana addict, clean for 9 years. For years I have perceived cigarette smoke as marijuana smoke. For the past 2 days I have been smelling marijuana smoke. At first infrequently, but the second half of the second day almost all the time. I do not smoke, and no body in my family smokes.

andrew's picture

You can't physically be

You can't physically be addicted to weed. Your just addicted to the good times you have.

Daniel W. Jacobowitz's picture

You can't be physically addicted to weed

Actually, you can be physically addicted to weed, since the weed now available has been carefully made more powerful and more stimulating by the same genetic modification that turned a useless grass into sweet corn--constant selection by the growers of the "best" seeds for propagation, as they seek greater price and profits for their product.

Any honest psychiatrist will report multiple cases of precipitation of serious mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder by the powerful marijuana which is now available anywhere in the USA. I personally know of at least one case, where a former Eagle Scout and top high school graduate began smoking the "harmless weed" and precipitated a complete mental collapse that is yet to resolve--he has been periodically hospitalized for uncontrollable behavior for more than a year now, and no resolution is anticipated.

Don't mess with your brain, dude. Take the following test: don't smoke any weed for the next month and then report to this blog exactly and honestly how you managed it. I'm betting you can't do it.
Signed: Agricultural expert.

Andrew's picture

Wow, thanks for the reply...

Um lets see. Weed isnt for everyone and if you are weak minded you can think your addicted and need it. First off i can stop for months and periodicaly do so no problem. Secondly i have a job, get good grades in school,have a girlfriend, and i have a very good memory. All im saying is that if it makes you lazy and fail everything you got going for you, its because they are lazy shits to begin with. And yes weeds stronger but it doesnt make it anymore addicting than brown mexican shwag.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Denial always has the same odor. You are in denial

Serendip Visitor's picture

In denial

Yes, swimming in Egypt's famous river makes one very smelly.
Sorry, could not resist hoho.

BTW I smell burnt onions at my 'time of the month', have never
smoked or taken anything, have no medical conditions.
I put it down to hormone changes causing sensory misinterpretation.

Or maybe because I do burn onions.

Anonymous's picture

recovering marijuana addict

Sounds a little like the problem I am experiencing. I have a persistent smell and taste which just doesn't give up. In my case its simply an unpleasant sweet smell, but its nothing I can identify. I don't want to be rude but addiction to marijuana is a mind thing more than a physical addiction. I have had problems with addictive behaviours as well so maybe it comes with the territory. I have also been diagnosed as bi-polar. I can sympathies with you such smells can be very trying. I am more likely to suffer symptoms when I am not feeling 100%. You do not mention you mood are you depressed ?

Jake's picture

marijuana addiction

Recovering marijuana addict.
You may be suffering from phantosmia. This is a serious medical condition. Search olfactory hallucinations on Google. Recommend you seek an eye, ear, nose specialist immediately. I have this condition and have never touched weed. You may have a different underlying cause.