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I'm obviously not looking for a diagnosis, and I do have an appt.
to discuss this with my doctor, but wondered if anyone else has
had this, or similar, experience - For over a month now, I keep
getting the sense that I smell something like honey-vanilla (not
precisely, but that's the best I can describe it). It's not
unpleasant at all, but there is nothing around with that smell.
It's not constant, but often. It's not just in one location -
even when I was out of town, so it's not like the car or kitchen
smells. And nobdy else smells it, even when specifically asked,
so it's not that I'VE started to smell weird. My on-line
searches turned up: psychosis (don't think so, and that's usually
associated with disgusting smells), seizure disorders (nothing
yet), or migrains (I get them very rarely, but haven't with this
smell thing). I do have a pretty sensitive nose, and in the
past, have occasionally experienced a kind of ''persistence of
smell'' for a few days after exposure to a strong smell, but never
anything for this long. I also don't recall smelling this
specific smell ''for real''
honey do you smell this?
funny: i used to get smell hallucinations all the time when i
was younger but come to think of it i haven't had any in a
while. can't think of what age they stopped. interesting.
please post whatever you find out. your primary care doc
probably won't know anything about them (they don't teach us
this in medical school) but a neurologist might.
Hmmm... When I first read your post, I thought ''psychosis'' because I had
postpartum psychosis, and I totally smelled things, good and bad, very intensely,
that weren't around. You said you didn't want a diagnosis, just wondered if anyone
had a similar experience. I did experience it, but it was also pleasant smells, along
with smells that were so unpleasant I would literally throw up. Let us know what the
Been there in Berkeley
I started having smell hallucinations a few years ago, and it
is always the smell of smoke. Also, when I get exposed to a
smoke smell, it may linger for days. I have a very sensitive
nose and often smell things other people do not detect until
the smell gets very strong. I do not have typical migraines
(though I do get bad headaches on occasion now that I am in
peri-menopause), but I have had optical migraines and my smell
hallicinations may have started around the same time. I would
be very interested to hear what you learn, and I hope you will
post it in a future ''Advice Given'' for other folks who may
Also having smell hallucinations
One thing that your doctor may tell you is that the smelling of the nonexistent smell
may actually BE a seizure (called a simple partial sensory seizure). Not all seizure
disorders involve ''grand mal'' (actually called generalized tonic-clonic) seizures and
loss of consciousness. Mine involve a weird ''deja vu'' feeling and a physical feeling of
anxiety. But they all are seizures -- something happening in the brain due to
disordered electrical impulses rather than actual input from the environment.
I also have olfactory hallucinations, only for me it's wood
smoke. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder 11 years ago, and
though I'm no longer seizing, I still have this intermittent
hallucination about smelling smoke. For the record, seizures can
be something other than the grand mal type; smelling something
that's not there could be an indicator of a subtle type of seizure.
I have been told that olfactory hallucinations are usually due to
a neurologic dysfunction, such as seizures, so it's good that
you're seeing an M.D. I'm hoping you'll be okay and you just have
a quirky sense of smell as I seem to.
I've been getting smell hallucinations too. The most recent was right after a
horrible migraine. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom when
I smelled a very strong odor of ant spray, like RAID. We never use ant spay and
don't have any in the house. The next morning the odor was gone. And by the
way, the windows were closed all night, so it didn't come from outside. I was
also really sensative to regular smells that occur around the house, especially in
the kitchen. Everything seemed off, like my brain wasn't computing smells
correctly. Sometimes the smells were good smells. But usually the smells were
very unpleasant or unusually strong to the point of becoming unpleasant. The
only other time I had this kind of problem was when I was pregnant.
Maybe my hormones changing as I approach closer to age 50 also effect my
sense of smell. It is interesting what one person said in their response to your
post, that the smell hallucinations might be a kind of siezure. That certainly
makes sense with a migraine. When I get them it definitely feels like there is
more going on than just pain and nausea. I can feel the inner workings of my
brain going bizerk and fryng my brain cells.
i posted earlier about smell hallucinations and wanted to
follow up on some of the remarks, which were very interesting.
just for your information there is an important line of thought
in brain research that the dysfunction in migraines, bipolar
disorder and some forms of seizure disorder share certain
neurologic pathways. in fact, all three of them can be treated
w/ seizure medications. maybe i should have worried more about
having smell hallucinations when i was younger and having them
but since they were only a curiousity and didn't impact my life
i never investigated them. and then they went away. come to
think of it i was a little bipolary in my thirties and that's
when i really noticed them. interesting. anyway, let us know
what you find out.
My 3.5 year old daughter has recently started complaining about
smells. Some of it seems real and some of it seems like a way to
get attention. The smells that bother her are the air from the
car heater, vinyl, toothpaste, daddy (which is the one I think
is a put on for attention). Anyone else have this experience?
Figured out what to do? Did your child get over it?
My 3.5 year old daughter has the exact same complaint about
smells. She has had this for some time now -- at least a
year. I do not think it is just to get attention, although I
see how one could think that. She even vomits when confronted
unexpectedly with a really strong smell. Like your child,
daddy (and even at times mommy) gets complained about, too. I
have not found a way to get her over it...I sort of thought
this was just one that has to be waited out.
My toddler is doing the same thing! I think that he is just
recognizing ways to sort out and talk about the different
signals that he picks up from his senses. Because he also asks
alot about different noises, ''I hear something!'' What is that?''
and the like. His smell thing can be somewhat embarassing, like
when he was standing next to a stranger and said ''I smell
something, it is not a good smell.'' Or when he says loudly ''I
smell a stinker!'' or in the morning ''your breath is stinky.''
Don't take it personally. They are just trying to sort out and
find a context for all of the sensory information coming in that
they used to not be aware of. Just give them time, their senses
are so new, and they experience them so powerfully and don't yet
know what to do with all of the information.
mom who knows that sensory integration takes time...
Two months ago, I had a terrible cold which turned into a sinus infection.
Since then, I have a greatly diminished sense of smell. I no longer have the infection,
but my sense of smell -- always so actue -- is really muted, I used to be able to
smell a poopy diaper from across the room; now I can't smell it under my nose.
Naturally, my ability to taste food has altered as well. I've been to an ENT who wasn't
helpful (he said this sometimes happens with a virus, that there is no cure and I
should stop breastfeeding and see if that helps) and I'm scheduled for a second
opinion but not for another six weeks. Has anyone else experienced a loss of this
kind? Did you fully regain your sense of smell? I'm very upset by this.
Not smelling the roses
Some years ago, after a bout of flu that affected my sinuses, I
also lost my sense of smell. I, too, couldn't smell a poopy
diaper. Over a period of months, I gradually regained my
smell. One of my doctors told me that the nerve tissue
gradually regenerates in most cases. Luckily, that was the case
for me. It took a very long time, though....probably around six
or seven months---before my sense of smell was back to normal.
I tried acupuncture, but I didn't notice any improvement. I
just want to reassure you that it does take a long time...I
didn't notice any changes for a few months.
I had a bad flu once and lost my sense of smell for several
months afterwards. It was miserable because my favorite f! oods
all tasted awful! However, I fully recovered eventually and
today my sense of smell is as acute as ever.
I don't think breastfeeding could have anything to do with it!
I'd just have patience and wait
a few more months.
My sister-in-law had the same thing happen to her. She is also
a medical student. Here is what she had to say:
yeah, that happened to me, almost exactly the same way (started
with a bad cold, increasing congestion and inability to
smell/taste for several years). i always had a lot of congestion
but she doesn't say if that's the case for her. in any case,
there are some tests she could have, if she hasn't already. she
could get an endoscopy of her nose and sinuses and/or get a CT
scan of her sinuses. that will tell her if she has pus or polyps
or just inflammation from chronic sinus infections blocking the
tiny area where the chemicals that create smell pass through the
nose to the brain. she should also get someone to do a nasal
function test (uses sound waves) to see if her septum is
deviated and thus making it difficult for her sinuses to drain
properly. in my case, it was the initial sinus infection from
the cold that started things off, but the deviated septum made
it almost impossible for my sinuses to drain, so i got repeated
chronic sinus infections, chronic inflammation, loss of smell,
i started off with lots of antibiotics that seemed to help for a
while, but the problem was greatly improved by having surgery
that corrected my deviated septum. a short course of oral
steroids (prednisone for 6 days) can also work wonders (really
shrinks the polyps), but if she is nursing, she may not be able
to do that right now. i also took allergy medications (still
taking them) and allergy shots, but i'm not convinced those did
much since my allergies were not very strong to begin with. she
could be tested to see if allergies are aggravating the problem
(they would precipitate polyp growth). some surgeons go in and
open up the sinus drainage holes as well as correcting the
septum and some also go in and scrape out the inflamed mucous
lining of the sinuses. the last procedure has recently been
questioned because it seems that, in some people, that just
makes the problem come back worse. topical steroid sprays (! e.g.
beconase, flonase, etc.) can also be used with good results
although i don't because my surgery left me with a perforation
(hole) in my septum and it is too fragile for those sprays.
so, the short end of it is, there are a lot of things that can
be done to at least define whether there is a fixable problem
and there are a lot of treatments out there if so. i think it is
the case that sometimes head injury or certain viruses can
permanently damage the delicate membrane where the chemical
molecules that make up smell are transmitted into chemical
signals in the brain (the ethmoid plate), but you can only say
that when all other possibilities have been excluded. i don't
know if her ENT did any of these tests, but it sounds like
he/she is looking for the zebra, not the horse, or just being
lazy and dismissive.
The same thing happened to my mom. She lost her sense of smell
after a particularly bad cold/sinus infection. It eventually
come back after 2 years.
Short of seeing an allergist, here's my advice: get out of town and
dairy products. After a cold I went months without my senses of smell
and taste, to the point that I couldn't taste spoiled milk or smell a
my kitchen stove. Then, by accident in May, I left Berkeley for Palm
Desert for four days, and happened not to have many dairy products
while I was there (except in my pancakes one morning). Away from
whatever pollen/dust/? was bugging me in Berkeley, and not
exacerbated by milk and ice cream, I immediately improved while in
ugh, SoCal. I've been fine ever since, although I still substitute my
for soy milk when possible. (Eggs, ice cream, etc. seem to be fine.)
starve those sinuses of whatever's inflaming them, and keep
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