Phantom Smells: Get Facts On Causes And Symptoms

Healthy Lifestyle
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever experienced smelling things that aren’t there or have no source? If yes! Then don’t worry, many of us probably imagine or experience such things once in our lives when we feel extreme hunger. It is just a fun fact because experiencing this once in a while is not a big deal. However, if you’re experiencing this on a regular basis then you’re suffering from a condition called phantosmia (phantom smells).

What Is Phantosmia?

It is a condition in which you smell odors that aren’t there. The types of odors you smell in this condition vary from person to person. Some people notice odors in just one nostril while others notice in both of them. The smell you experience in this condition may come and go or it may be constant.

What Are The Common Smells?

People who have phantosmia can notice different types of odors. Those phantom smells can be of anything but still, there are a few smells that seem to be most common. These smells include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Burning rubber
  • Chemical odors like ammonia
  • Coffee
  • Maple syrup
  • Fire
  • The smell of something rotten and spoiled (rotten eggs or other food items)

There is something interesting to be noted that smells that are associated with phantosmia are more likely to be undesirable. There are only a few people who do report smelling good, sweet, and pleasant odors. While most of them experienced unattractive odors.

What Causes You To Smell Things That Aren’t There?

Phantom smells are undoubtedly annoying but they aren’t necessarily an issue on their own. However, the symptoms of phantosmia can be alarming; they’re usually caused due to a problem in your mouth or nose rather than the brain. According to Mayo Clinic, 52 – to 72 % of conditions affecting your sense of smell are related to a sinus issue. Some of the other most common causes are:

  • Common colds
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Allergies
  • Irritation from poor air quality
  • Dental problems
  • Migraines
  • Nasal polyps

How Is It Treated?

The best thing you can do to getting rid of phantom smells is by treating the underlying causes. Like, if your phantosmia is caused by cold, flu, respiratory infection or sinus infection then it should go away on its own once the illness gets treated. However, treating the neurological causes of phantom smells is more complicated and there are different options depending on the type of condition.

In any case, consult with your doctor. He will help you come up with a treatment plan that works best for you condition. Your doctor may also suggest you ways to minimize your symptoms so that your phantom smells doesn’t disturb you in the way of your lifestyle.

Few Most Popular General Physicians:

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Samiha Khan
Samiha is self-motivated writer. She has done BS hons in Human Development and Family Studies. She is versatile, creative and voraciously curious writer. She strives for quality in everything she do. She is a learner who likes to share her learning outcomes through her writings.
Samiha Khan

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