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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Funny Smells

 larapara - Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:19 pm


I am a female/ 38 years old/ in good health. For the past few weeks I have been experiencing strong smells, mainly smoke although sometimes just a disgusting smell but my family and friends say there is no smell. Sometimes it is so strong it makes me gag.

Only other symptoms are recurrent night sweats.

I would feel stupid going to my doc and saying I can smell things which aren't there!

Any ideas?


 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:30 pm

User avatar Dear Lara,

Thank you very much for using our website.

What you are experiencing can be categorized under hallucincations (if really is no smell and you are the only one who can smell it). And this kind of hallucinations is called olfactory (related to smell).

This could be related to
1. Degeneration or regeneration of the smell nerves in the nose secondary to lots of causes such as chronic sinusitis, chronic nose infections. This is the most common cause.
2. Brain lesions of the temporal lobe. This is rare.
3. Aura preceding seizures. Rather uncommon.
4. Certain psychiatric disorders.
5. Certain metabolic disorders.

Although this can be a simple and temporary condition but because of your family history of epilepsy, i would encourage you to see your personal doctor for a neurological referral to make sure that you don't have epilepsy as your other family members do. Temporal lobe epilepsy can present this way.

Also, i think a ct scan of the brain would not be unreasonable if you have other symptoms that would suggest the presence of an intracranial process such as new onset headache difficult to treat, vomiting, blurring of vision.

Once more, thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.

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