Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Those phantom smells

Q:

Love your blogs.

Thank you.

Okay, here's my question/situation. I occasionally get a bad smell in my nose - like all the air I'm breathing is tainted with cigarette smoke or burnt coffee. Sometimes I have to force myself to breathe through my nose when it's particularly bad. I start to breathe, then my nose rebels and I have to tell it please breathe. (I am not a mouth breather unless absolutely necessary.) When this happens, it lasts about a week or two, then goes away for months. This has been going on and off for at least several years. More than three, for sure.

I have a history of annual sinus infections - mostly in February, early March - and I'm asthmatic and allergic to everything it seems.

Is this worth a visit RIGHT NOW to a specialist, or should I bring this up at my next visit to my regular internist.

The most likely explanation for these phantom odors is, indeed, sinus infection. You may have a chronic sinus infection which flares periodically, either directly producing the odor or indirectly creating a phantom odor by irritating the olfactory nerves.

The worry with any phantom odor, however, is tumor -- a tumor anywhere near or on the olfactory nerves. These are uncommon (much less common than sinusitis) but, as you might imagine, they're a good deal more serious than sinus infection. These can, in fact, be brain tumors.

Phantom odors from a brain tumor would not tend to come and go, however. Typically, the odors would come and stay, possibly get worse, and the tumor could eventually knock out the sense of smell altogether.

It may sound like I'm trying to reassure you, but the other shoe still has to drop. In medicine, we say, "Never say never." In other words, just because something is (A) rare in the first place, and (B) unlikely to present in the manner you have described, doesn't mean you have zero chance of that worst case scenario.

I hope you'll understand that I can't directly advise you how fast to see a doctor. When I do answer those questions, I always answer them the same way ("See your doctor immediately!") because I have to cover my ass. BUT: it sounds like this is making you miserable, so if I were you, I would take care of it sooner rather than later. A consultation with an ENT, who will most likely order a sinus CT and may also examine your nose with an endoscope, would certainly be worthwhile.

Hope this helps!

D.

56 Comments:

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Angel Feathers Tickle Me said...

Love to all.....

 
At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

Um.

Okay.

Love to you, too.

 
At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been experiencing this same phenomenon for about two months now. I have NO history of allergies/asthma/chronic sinus infections, etc. I had the flu about 6 weeks ago, but recovered quickly and only had a lingering cough for awhile.

My office is located next to an outside door, where right outside is a receptacle for cigarettes. I often shut MY door, to avoid having the smoke drift in here. At work, I am constantly beseiged by the smell of tobacco! BUT even when I am at home (where NO ONE has ever smoked) I often smell it, very strongly!
I myself smoked once upon a time, but it has been nearly 25 years since I quit.
I don't smell anything else weird, just this phantom tobacco smell. I wonder if it gets into my nose during the day and stays there?

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Hoffman, It is really nice to see the information that you included in response to the person having "phantom smells". I came to this site looking for my husband's nose bleeds and my eyes caught the article. Your comments regarding strange smells being associated with tumors are nice to finally see on the internet. In the spring of 2005, I could not find anything on the net and my neurologist thought I was a newly bloomed (in late thirties) epilectic because I had my first seizure where I had collapsed to the floor. I found that the statement was not fitting the entire description for my "symptoms" and pleaded to get an MRI of my head (since the CT scan taken in the hospital did not show any concerns). My neurologist was kind enough to book an appointment "to prove to me that I was fine" and the results came back as a left frontotemporal lobe tumor. My surgery results were "Grade 2" astrocytoma and it is now just over a year and my latest MRI from two months ago, they found "two new cystic areas in the inferior aspect of the left temporal lobe" and "irregular enhancement in the white matter surrounding the cystic areas"

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We recently flew to California on a bus. trip and I noticed the smell of smoke and my husband could not detect it. Neither of us are or have been smokers and I'm extremely sensitive to perfumes, colognes, chemicals, etc., so I just assumed there had been a smoker previously in our room and thought I was just more sensitive to it. This was not the case because whenever we left the resort, the smell never left and when we returned home it seems to be even worse. I don't like reading about these tumors but don't want to be in denial either. Has anyone else noticed this problem being initiated after flying, being adjusted by a chiropractor, or has anyone else had these sensitivities to chemicals, odors prior to the "smoke smell"

 
At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am too having the issue of smelling cigarette smoke, where there have been no smokers, and noone else smells it either. I noticed it a few days ago, and I have never had any issues of sensitivity to other smells or illnesses either, but it's making me NUTS!!!

 
At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also been experiencing the same thing where the smell of smoke gets so strong that sometimes I can't even speak because I'll choke! This has been happening since December. When it happens, nobody can smell it but me! I have not been sick with a cold, sinus infections or flu in over a year. I did have Lasik surgery at the begining of October last year... I don't know if it could be related... Also, yesterday I experienced a different kind of smell, it was like peroxide VERY strong like when somebody is having their hair colored in a salon and the power of the smell was overwhelming. I only experience headaches once a onth during the mentrual cycle and I was told it was a "hormonal headache". After reading these columns and Dr. Hoffman's advice, I guess I will have to consult with a neurologist.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is another site that deals with this "phantom smoke odor" that you might be interested in that i look at periodically. my smells seem to be erratic also. i've now started keeping a food diary to see if there's a connection.

http://snipurl.com/1d2st

 
At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been smelling smoke about 6 - 9 months. I was convinced my house was on fire... smoldering is a better term for it. I have had and still have bad sinues. I have nose bleeds out of the blue... 5 in two days this weekend. Then they stop for a while then out of the blue they come back...I have headaches that are centered right behind my left ear that seem to come on right after the smoke. It seams as I am falling apart... additionally to the smoke and headaches, my eyes have been twitching for about a month... not where anyone could see just the nerves twitching enough where I can feel it... And then there are the migrains... not to often at first but increasing in frequency and pain.

Suggestions?

 
At 4:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeepers, I thought I'd be the only person looking for this! I started to smell cigarette smoke about a week ago, dispicable smell, I hate smoking, but it won't go away. I have been eating mints and snorting on Menthol inhalers to mask the smell but it only works for a very short period. I finally went to the doctor today and relayed my fears but he just laughed and said leave it for another 1-2 weeks. How can you relax when this smell is haunting you and there may be something sinister underlying!!

I've never flown, I don't drink or smoke, its just come from nowhere!! I'm in the UK and really don't know what to do next for the best!.

 
At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

douoyeI have had a phantom smell of cigarettes for a few years now. I never mentioned it to any one for fear they would think I was crazy.

Now I have lost all sense of smell except for the stench of burning rubber and vomit. I cannot stand it any longer. My doctor has given me prescriptions for acute sinusitis (which I have never had before) and I had a CT scan. What do you suppose he is looking for?

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having that problem of smelling something that isn't there also. It started the week end of the 4th of July. It seems to smell like gasoline. It was very strong for a week. It then faded and I only smelled it once in a while.
This past week end it was very strong again. The smell has changed a little...I just can't explain what it smells like. I am a little nervous and don't know whether to go to the doctor or not.

 
At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Willard said...

Our moderator says the real worry with phantom odors in Brain Tumor. That's EXACTLY what caused mine. I was diagnosed last month with a 5 cm. pituitary prolactinoma, located near the nasal cavity.

It was getting so large, it gave me double vision, headaches, poor balance, along with the phantom smells.

For months I'd been plagued by smells of gasoline fumes, flowers, a chemical smell, and today the laundry detergent I'd used earlier.

Take Douglas' very sound advice. Look into the Brain Tumor sites, message boards and forums. Read up about it and have enough data to convice a doctor that there's reason to use that expensive MRI.

I'm in little danger of dying soon, but you might not be so lucky.

 
At 11:21 AM, OpenID NeCromX said...

I just started having this happen and its not a smoke smell for me but a distantly familiar smell but I can't put my finger on it. Its like a chemical smell and it happens more often when i try to concentrate on it like its from a repressed traumatic experience or stress.

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger bellebibasmom said...

My mom stopped by tonight. She lives only a couple blocks away from me. She asked if my husband could stop by and check under her crawl space. She said she had been smelling cigarette smoke and wondered if someone could be lurking around. My mouth dropped open. I had never mentioned to her that my husband has already checked our crawl space. (I insisted he go under with a hammer & flashlight to see if there were signs of someone living under there. But nothing, of course! ) It was a couple years ago I started smelling smoke now and then. It does not happen often. But it is not a faint smell when it does appear. It is usually on the end of the house where my toddler's room is. Strongest in her closet. It does not last long. I thought it was creepy though. Noone has ever smoked in our home since we lived here (7 yrs) as I am very allergic to it. And the the home was only built a few years before we moved in. I am not the only one who smells it in our home. It had not happened in a while but a few weeks ago the smell was strong out in the garage. I am not trying to rain on anyone else's parade or beliefs but I don't buy the ghost theory. And I doubt it is medical when my mom, husband and I (& others) have smelled it. Can there be a problem with the electric company or gas company? Or some reaction with the soil and new homes being built? Any ideas on who we contact to find out where this comes from or what is the cause?
I just posted this on another site as well. We would like some answers!

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had been bugging my huband about me smelling like something was burning months ago. Now I have this strong smell like gasoline fumes or propane although we haven't used propane in years. I thought it was related to something in my home but this weekend we took a trip and the smell inside my nose hasn't left me. It is driving me crazy! I guess I will have to go to the doctor and have it checked out.

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Lou said...

As the owner of a pituitary adenoma its kinda weird reading about these phantom odours! Ive had them for about 8 years now and was diagnosed with the tumour last year, but have been told its NOT on any olfactory nerves and cannot possibly be causing the strange smells as the adenoma isn't functioning, do you have any idea why else I would be getting these if its not the tumor?

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been smelling something between chemical and cigarette smoke for a few months now....I went to the doctor and he wants to do a scan on my sinuses and my brain....also did a blood test to find....????? the smell comes and goes but I was just in Las vegas and was around alot of cigarette smoke which really set it off. Had it for several days straight now that I am home it seem a little better....
I have the scan next week for my sinuses. but one other thing I have noticed is that i seem to be very depressed and cry all the time.....which is very unusual for me...I am very up beat and positive....NOT anymore....
has anyone else noticed this symptom??

 
At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the smelling of stale cigarette smoke on and off for about 5 years now, when mine began I had just given up smoking so assumed it was that and the smoke was on items in the house, now 5 years on and having cleaned everything that could possibly have smoke on it and moved house also im still getting it.
This last bought seems to have been the worst, much stronger smell, making me cough and gag at the smell and lasting more than a week now.
I have read a couple of forums now with this problem but no one seems to have a clear answer to what really does cause this, sinus problems or a tumour.
I will go to my Dr and see what he says but not holding out much hope of getting an answer.
I hope someone can come up with something soon.

 
At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5-18-08, Austin TX.

I'm smelling cigarette smoke & NO one is around me... this started 3 years ago, when I accused my housemates of lying ot me, beliving they had bee smoking in the house... then last summer, now living alone in the country, I thought I had a peeping-tom, & that someone's cig smoke was coming through my air conditioner... or maybe a ghost... I was about to believe anything... or that I was going crazy! It went away eventually & now it's back again... lasted 2 weeks straight & NOTHING takes the smell away... I stick my nose on a jar of Vicks Vaporub & all I smell is cigarette smoke... can't smell a steak cooking inside the house, but thankfully I can taste it... it now has disappeared, just to get it back the next day... I feel I owe the ex-housemates a sincerely appology... they thought I was crazy & now I understand why.

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger dbw said...

I often smell phantom odors briefly, usually marijuana or urine. Is it still worrisome if it's intermittent (a few minutes a day)? I've never had a particularly good sense of smell so it seems unlikely that these smells are actually there.

 
At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just so everyone will have one more thing to worry about- disturbances in the sense of smell are reportedly a very early sign of the development of Alzheimer's

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking back, I have been smelling cigarette smoke on an off for a little more than a year. Coincidently, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis February 2007. I have been smelling cigarette smoke constantly now for about two weeks. I have noticed that my sinus are also dry as well as my eyes. I did have a beneign tumar in my right sinus in 2000. With the postings about Alzheimer’s and tumors it makes me wonder if they diagnosed me properly. Di I have MS or is it a tumor they just didn't see?

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, I too have been trying to "google" my symptoms for quite sometime and I was presently surprised to find this blog! I have been in a very long and tiring battle with chronic sinusitis, even after many CT scans, three sinus surgeries and lots of antibiotics! It's very frustrating. I've had the phantom odor of smoke off and on for the past three years - post surgeries. I have always had an allergy to smoke - it causes severe congestion in my sinuses. My question would be: Is it possible for your sinuses to swell and congestion to set in, from a phantom odor? Thank you for bringing this out in the open for the smelling-challenged!

 
At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOPS, pleasantly surprised!

 
At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 37 year old white female smoker, and I too have had these smells. It is like a strong cigarette smell in the nose that is quite different than regular cigarette smoke and it doesn't go away. I just recently grew concerned after hearing about the tumor link to this phantom smell, this has been going on for aprox one year now.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Art Deco Diamond said...

I too am glad that I googled this unusual incidence. I've had this before, but after reading the blogs I realize it was usually after a sinus/respiratory incident. I believe it is either the antibiotics or related to the sinus incident. I too am concerned about the brain tumor connection, but with all these people stating the same symptoms, if seems reasonable that the medical profession would at least have more knowledge about it if it were an indication of a brain tumor. Some people suggested they've had it reoccurr during several years and nothing has worsened. But best to always check with your doctor.

 
At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have also been recieving strange smells that no-one else can detect i have had it twice before with the smell of gas but this week it has been really potent i first smelt off milk and then the next day i smelt insence which went away and the day after i smelt the insence again but it was so strong i felt sick and had a headache no-one else could smell it, the next day i smelt fish in my mums kitchen my mum hadnt cooked fish nor were the windows open and no-one again could smell it it quickly went, today i smelt off milk outside all of a sudden im worried and am going to my GP tommorow but could it be something not too worry about? i have had several pains in my head that make me hunch over over and quickly go what could this be?

 
At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ive this smoke smell for 2 week now and i'm scared of dying of brain tumor or some sort of lethal disease :(
im healthy 40 years old male going to gym 4 time a week and eating healthy..

any news form all the people who has write here??

 
At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very strange. You all describe exactly what I am experiencing. I was, at first extremely worried, but after reading this blog and others I feel better. Maybe it is just a "chemical reaction" in my head...or the way my nerve endings translate a smell into my brain. Wax on the floors, printer ink, all these computers around me, heated wires, carpet cleaner solution, flourescent lighting, etc??? I only smell the aweful smoke at work. It comes and goes. I sit near fax machines and copiers. I came in to work on a Saturday just to see if it was the other employees smoking near the door or intake vent for the air flow. I smelled smoke on that Saturday when no one was here! Curiously, I took off for 3 months and did not smell it at all for those 3 months. The first day I returned I smelled it again. I have worked here for 12 years and only started smelling smoke for last 2 years. I asked my supervisor to move me. I still sit same cube. I spoke to her supervisor. I still sit in same cube. I am afraid to mention it again. My doctor thinks nothing of it. He said if I want he will approve for me to see specialist. I stopped taking Zetia for 3 months with no change per his suggestion. He did full blood workup on me with no abnormalities, except high cholesterol. 4 years ago I had inflamed optic nerve which is indication of MS, which was ruled out after an MRI. I have had Lasik both eyes in 2000. I am loosing my mind. This is very distressful. I wish I smelled roses. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. I grew up in home where father smoked 3 packs a day. I know this is long, but another interesting item...I bought an indoor air particle detection unit which I brought in to work...very clean air! I set it up at home with 2 dogs and in my home my air is slightly dusty. I ran the vacuum and the meter jumped nearly off the chart with much dust in the air from the no bag vacuum. I have no allergies. Oh, btw, get this...the Doctor gave me calm down pills. I hope someone can unravel this mystery soon. I really don't need pills. I only want to breathe clean air.

 
At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really weird!!! I've been smelling something, I don't have a clue what it is, but it's not a nice smell... It's been around since I came back from year 8 camp (4 days ago) but really, I haven't got a clue what could have started it!
Hmm, I was scratching my nose cause it was itchy, and I think some of the skin rub off... Could that be it? I got about 3 blood noses on camp too, but that's nothing unusual for me.
Really, the strangest thing is that the closest thing I could think of to this smell was 'river/swamp water', but I did go canoeing on camp, so it might just be an idea.
I think I mostly smell this around my house, but no one else does! I even thought I smelt it in the swimming pool! I really hope nothings wrong... I'm 14 years old... haven't done enough with my life yet...

 
At 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted several months ago with the smelling smoke phenomenon.
I have had this on and off for the past 5 years since giving up smoking, no one in my house smokes and iam never in places where people are smoking, but this comes and goes.
The last time it was so bad, both smell and taste of it that I was gagging with the taste when I tried to eat anything, this constant for 2 weeks, then as quickly as it had appeared I awaoke one moring and it had gone. I had a mri brain scan and have just had the results back.
The was no tumour or anything that they thought might be causing the problem, but what they did find was 3 cavenomas, which having googled this and speaking to the neurologist they are as follows, "Cavernous malformation is a rare disorder of the capillaries and smallest veins in one part of the brain. The disorder occurs when a blood-filled mass resembling a tumor, called a hemangioma, forms. Symptoms include headaches and seizures. Cavernous malformation is frequently inherited"
Having said this as the smell symptoms are not to frequent they dont think this is the cause of it and have no answer to it. The cavenomas iam told are best left alone and there is only a 20% chance in the next 40 years of them bleeding and causing epilespy.
But all in all iam told it is a mysterious occurance to which there appears no medical answer.

 
At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a relief to find this blog! My husband thinks I've lost it as I smell burning/smoke/smoldering something every evening. I only smell it sitting on the couch or in the bedroom and only at the end of the day.

Obviously nothing is burning or the smoke alarms would eventually go off or the place would burst into flame.

For about three years I have had a prolific runny nose. I'm never without a kleenex and just have this drip...no sneezing or cold signs...just drippiness.

Anyone else have the odor at specific times? Accompanied with a history of "drippiness"?

 
At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I'm between laughing till I cry and utter dejection after reading all these comments. I've been smelling something like an ozone smell which some days changes to a kind of chemical smell and then also burnt coffee. We had our furnace cleaned, chimneys checked, replaced our coffee maker, checked the ductwork, etc.etc. We don't have any pets and our house is spotless. Sometimes I think it smells like fuel burning at too low a temp. (Our furnace man said no). No one else seems to smell it although we don't have company often and my husband has long-since lost his sense of smell. At first it was driving me crazy. I never had this problem in any other house (we owned 6 others) but we moved here 3 yrs ago and it has bothered me ever since. I too wondered if it has something to do with sinus which I do get. My nose runs a lot and I should own the Kleenex co. by now. I've been getting bronchitis a lot and recently went for a lung X-ray in case of....haven't got the results yet. Got a pneumonia shot this year as an extra precaution. We threw out plants I thought might be moldy (no improvement). We don't have an electronic air cleaner which I've heard can cause a smell. It's worse at night and I go to bed with lavender and exotic soaps to try and block out the weird chemical-like smell. I don't smell it at other people's homes even when we stayed for days. A brain tumour I don't need but I have actually thought about selling our house and moving, it has been that bad. My mind plays tricks on me, such as thinking that our house was built on some sacred Indian burial ground and you know the rest. But people stay on this st. for years and the owner before us was here for 13 yrs so I guess this isn't causing a mass exodus. I haven't mentioned it to the neighbours in case our house gets designated "polluted", can you blame me? Thank goodness I don't smell smoke here. If I did I couldn't stand it. I'm truly bothered by tobacco smell. If it's a tumour I'm wondering why I didn't have the problem while on vacation, etc. Right now I'm determined to "put it out of my mind" and just soldier on! All of you have my sympathies because I know how miserable this can be. Here I sit, nuts in Canada, waiting for the men in white coats.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a theory....I have phantom smoke smell (PSS?) and it has come and gone ever since I quit smoking four years ago (I have no idea if I was experiencing it before then because I was a 2-3 pack a day user).
But I wonder if maybe we all have sensitive noses, and are smelling off-gassing from building construction materials?
It has been extremely strong the past 4-5 days, but only in my house, and only in the same geographic location of the house, independent of the level I am on. I.E, it is occurring on all three floors, but ONLY in one corner of the house.
I developed the sensitive nose theory because, well, I have an extremely sensitive nose. When I was working on the 20th floor of an office building, every morning I could smell the restaurant in the basement making bacon and eggs, when no one else on the floor could.
Well, just another theory to think about.
By the way, the previous poster who threw out their plants - go buy new ones. Pothos in particular are extremely capable at cleaning the air inside our homes, but other experts name boston ferns and many other plants.
I hope this link helps...
http://www.plant-care.com/indoor-plants-clean-air-1.html

 
At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may be a simple, but unacceptable for some, explanation for phantom smells. It could be the "signature" of a loved one who has passed from this physical world. Those who understand these things know that the physical senses can be utilised to communicate with us. It has nothing to do with belief systems either. As I say simple but.......

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger kungerecht said...

Hi. I have suffered from phantom smoke smells twice. The first time was preceded by an almost complete loss of smell and taste. This was a condition I had for abut three years. Then the phantom smell was added on top of that. I went on-line and read about a product called Magnetic Clay Detox Bath Kits from a accompany called Health911. This is a set of detox formulas that is used while soaking in the tub. This was recommended for possible recovery from loss of smell. I tried it and within about two weeks my sense of smell had returned and the phantom smell was gone. That was about two years ago. Then a couple of weeks ago the phantom smell returned and I remembered the detox kit which I hadn’t used in about two years. I had some left and took a good 45 minute soaking. In just that one session, the smell was dramatically decreased. I used it for about three additional days in a row and it is now gone completely. I can't guarantee anything, of course, but it might be worth a try.

kungerecht

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the last two weeks I have had the smell that smells like a "poo poo plant." Like a sewer overloaded. I don't have pain, nor snotty nose, lol. I can even taste it. Hubby says he doesn't smell anything.

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Phantum smell seem to start in my vechile while driving. Been noticing it about three years. It's not the vechile, for this is the second new vechile and I also smell it in other vechiles. I think it may be my breath but I check that by breathing in my hand and smelling but that's not it. I also thought it was a molded AC duct but I smell it other places like my office. It's not constent in fact it my last only a second. not long enough for me to track it down. I think I will see a Neuroligist for a brain overhaul.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks goodness for this site. i too have been experiencing the dirty tobacco smell and have been blaming my husband who smokes outside the house. But more and more frequently I can smell the tobacco when I have not been near a smoker and it is really irritating now. I have never smoked and I do have hormonal headaches but am in reasonable mental and physical condition for my age. female and 50,

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

last month i had surgery to remove my brain tumor (on my pituitary gland)i temporarily lost my sense of smell and taste. after regaining them back I began to smell a strange odor. It really stinks. Likes pus. it comes and goes but i find it strange that this happened AFTER my surgery. (btw I found out about the tumor after i went to the doc to complain about my poor vision, dry skin, loss of libido, headaches, irritability, loss of menses (period) and lack of concentration)

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Mother used to say "a problem of many is a consolation of fools". Well I am a fool today. I have been smelling smoke since 2003. I have to confess that I thought it was something supernatural, but it started way before my Father in Law and my Father passed away (they were smokers).
Now the smell is stronger and almost I could say that it is constant.
My husband used to say that I have a dog's nose becuase I was very sensitive to smells. Now my sensitivity to smells had diminished slighltly.
I never thought to find any answer to my situation or to this phenomenon, but I am pleased to know that is not just me and that there could be a possible answer to this.
I am not an smoker, no one smokes in my house. I do not surround my self by smokers neither. I can not tolerate the smoke at all. It makes the air so dense that it results hard for me to breath.
Healthwise I believe to be in good condition. I do not have any problems with my sinuses so that possibility is discarded. I have never suffered of any allergies but recently I have being experiencing a constant sore throat. I do not have any infections either.
Many years ago. in 1987 I had an incident that the Doctors diagnosed as Cerebral Dysrithmia.
I had always suffered of headaches. To me headaches were normal occurrances
But one and only one day I lost consciousness and had seizures. It happened twice in the same day. At that time I had an Electroencephalogram and a Tomography done. I was supposed to take medication for life like epamin, phenobarbital, neurobion and valium. Due to the side effects I only took the prescribed medication for couple of weeks. I also had to add that it was only one time occurance or only one day in my entired life. The Doctors then also indicated after explaning them the load of work, responsibility and pressure I had at work that I was at the border of a surmenage.
I think they were right because that would justify why I did not need the medication for all these years and why I did not suffer any other seizure or loss of consciousness.
For what I read, I understand that while a CT Scan may come with negative results a MRI may show something totally different. I guess I will have both done.
I am anxious to have this solved. It is anoying and unconfortable. I could almost say that when I smell the smoke, while I inhale it almost burns like oxidationin my nasal mucose.
Thanks to all for posting your experiences.

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this site and others. I too thought I was going crazy which seems to be the magic word. I smell cigarettes, whiskey and bug spray. None of which I'm around. My mom smokes cigarettes and when I get home I wash from head to toe. But the smell still lingers for days. The bug spray is usually when I eat lettuce go figure that one out. Whiskey I can't figure out at all. Haven't been out to a club in I can't remember when! Been going on for years but not until this site have I talked about these episodes. Let me know if anyone finds something out. Thank you all for sharing.

 
At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

I too have been thinking of getting lasik eye surgery, but in new york.

I found them via a Google search. Do you know any other alternative to word of mouth reviews? No one I know has had Lasik...

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been smelling a smoke smell off and on for two years. More noticeable during winter months and sometimes will disappear for weeks at a time.

I mentioned having a phantom odor similar to a campfire to my Dr. and his comment was it was a good smell to have if you had to have one.

Huh?

The smell comes evenings--when watching tv, just going to bed, or in church. I rarely notice it anywhere else. Strange, but nice to know the rest of you are out there!

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

For about five months I've been getting these phantom odors. Started as 'burning popcorn' got worse and worse. Had a CT scan and found small meningioma but not the likely cause. Diminished over time then returned as 'new shoe chemical' smell; crazy I know but driving ME crazy. Saw a comment on a blog somewhere that zinc supplement had helped someone else and tryed it. Smell is MOSTLY gone after a week taking supplement. Good luck to all.

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger Dharla said...

Just thought I would toss in My experience to see if anyone can relate.

My olfactory hallucinations started about six years ago. It started out as "hot wiring" smell....sometimes would switch to fresh mowed grass...then chocolate! When the smells would hit I'd shake my head and snort....trying to clear my nose. They would disappear. It was then that I noticed the smells came when my eyes were focused on one spot for an extended period....watching tv or gazing into space. As soon as I broke my gaze the smell would leave.

When I switched form Brand Name Zoloft to the generic form the hallucinations stopped for about 4 years...returning ONLY when I switched back to Zoloft!

I thought THAT had fixed the problem...evidently not. For the past two months I've had strange smells...mostly a chemical odor. It reminds me of the smell you get when you fire up the central heater for the first time of the heating season....very odd. It hits me two or three times a day..usually for only a few minutes. My sinuses HAVE been flowing freely because of pollen the past few weeks also.

The Human Body....will we ever understand it??

 
At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 32 and healthy. I began smelling a burning smell, like cigarette smoke or burnt coffee about 1 1/2 years ago while I was still pregnant. None of my family smokes and I even once accused my mom of sneaking a cigarette before she came to see me because the smell was so strong. I smell it everywhere I go -- at work(non-smoking place), outside, at the store, in cars. I can't get away from it.
I have checked all over our house because I swore that something must be on fire or causing a slow burn --electrical or whatever --even checked the appliances and up in the attic.

For some reason it seems to get stronger if I get mad or anxious. I haven't mentioned it to a doctor for fear that I will be labeled as crazy. I know my husband has gotten tired of me asking if he smells smoke when I do. Now I assume he doesn't and don't bother to ask. I've tried rinsing my sinuses with the Neti pot, but the smell is still right there with me. I guess I need to get over the fear of the doctor just dismissing me and mention this to him.

 
At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lyme Disease can also cause you to have these phantom smells/odors as well as pit gland/adrenal glands out of balance.

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Jacquéline Roth said...

I thought perhaps I was going crazy. Thanks for this blog! I keep smelling what I've described as strong burning cigarette smoke. I too thought there was some sort of fire or electrical problem. It's gotten worse over the years. I just made the appointment with my doctor. I've been afraid they would think I was nuts and laugh.

 
At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG......there are others out there like me. I too get the stale second hand smoke smell in my nose. My smell comes and goes too, sometimes in the car, sometimes at home on the couch. I would constantly ask the family if they smelled and of course they all said no. There are no smokers around me or any of my possessions, so I just wrote it off to my guardian angel. I ask him or her to refrain from the smoking around me and I don't smell it for several months, then it comes back. No rhyme or reason. I have been experiencing this for 7 years, if it was a tumor, I would probably be gone by now....so I do not even want to know. thanks guys

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what I smell is like the dust that comes up from the old clay kitty litter. Nobody else has a smell like this. It comes and goes, but is around much more often then it used to be. I get visual migraines, no pain, I've wondered if related but never gotten it checked out. May I will after reading these posts.

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel more comfortable knowing that I'm not alone. I to feel the smell of like stale cigarette or some type of chemically wood burning/smoldering smell and I have the same taste. It's weird and the first time that I recall having this I was probably 15. I'm 24 almost 25, so I feel if I had a tumor or something I probably wouldn't be doing so well now. What are your thoughts guys?

 
At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Fellow Smoke Smellers! This started with me around 4-5 years ago, and after 4-5 months symptom free sure enough I'm having a pretty pronounced episode right now. I declined a brain MRI a while back, but will reconsider if it persists. Meanwhile, I'm all but convinced the issue is nasal polyps, brought on by dry air and other irritants. I get small sores inside my nostrils, either a cause or symptom of the phantom smoke smell. I can live with it, but I appreciate knowing I'm not the Lone Ranger with this.

 
At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A family friend of ours complained for a year he kept smelling smoke on occasions and then he died suddenly of a stroke. Please, if anyone has smells like fire burning, please go see a doctor ASAP. I have been smelling phantom urine smells and I will stand still and they go away as quickly as I smelled it. I have had strange occurrences in the home I'm leasing but I am going to see a doctor asap just to be safe.

 
At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Debbie said...

Several years ago I lived in a home that had a fuel oil furnace. For weeks I could smell something that I can only describe as car exhaust. Then the migraines struck. However, eventually I figured out the furnace was malfunctioning. Also, some years ago I attended a drag race event and got a snootful of the exhaust from a dragster. I choked and coughed from it. The smell stayed in my nose for some time, but eventually went away the same day. Now for the past week I've been plagued by car exhaust smells again. It comes and goes, but is sickening. Sometimes I can actually taste it as well as smell it. In fact, it was so bad last night when I went to bed I had to get back up because I thought I was going to vomit. I live on a busy street and thought it was coming from outside so I've closed the windows. However, I still smell car exhaust fumes. I believe the trigger to this episode was the charcoal lighter fluid used on a cooking fire at the campground where I'd visited friends last weekend since that's when this episode began. I have severe allergies, mostly environmental, such as pollen, dust, mold. I'm wondering if it's possible for odors to get "stuck" in one's nose? If so, I've tried nasal sprays, breathing menthol vapors, netti pot, but so far nothing has worked to rid myself of the odor in my nose. I doubt I have a brain tumor. I've also read that thyroid problems could be a contributor to these phantom odors and the last test I had came up that my thyroid was fine. This is so frustrating. I suppose I'll have to see a doctor again. Last time I mentioned this to the doc he seemed to think it was simply from breathing bad furnace fumes and that I'd get over it in time. I did...until now.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home