Medically the review by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — written by Diana Wells — update on April 9, 2019

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What is phantosmia?

Phantosmia is a condition that reasons you to odor odors that aren’t in reality present. As soon as this happens, the sometimes referred to as an olfactory hallucination.

The types of odors civilization smell differ from person to person. Some might an alert the odor in just one nostril, if others have it in both. The odor may come and also go, or it might be constant.

Keep reading to learn more about what causes phantosmia and how to treat it.


While human being with phantosmia can an alert a range of odors, there space a couple of odors the seem come be most common. These include:

cigarette smokeburning rubberchemicals, such together ammoniasomething spoiled or rotten

While the most typical smells connected with phantosmia have tendency to be undesirable, some civilization do report odor sweet or pleasant odors.


While the symptom of phantosmia deserve to be alarming, they’re usually as result of a difficulty in her mouth or nose quite than her brain. In fact, 52 come 72 percent of conditions affecting your feeling of odor are concerned a sinus issue.

Nose-related reasons include:

irritation from smoking or poor air quality

Other common causes of phantosmia include:

dental problemsexposure to neurotoxins (substances that room toxic to the concerned system, such as lead or mercury)

There are countless less common reasons of phantosmia. Because these typically involve neurological disorders and also other conditions that require immediate treatment, it’s important to call your physician as quickly as feasible if you think you may have any kind of of the following:


In part cases, odors coming from unexplained sources can make that seem like you have actually phantosmia. These incorporate odors from:

dirty waiting vents in your residence or officenew laundry detergentnew bedding, specifically a new mattressnew cosmetics, body wash, shampoo, or other personal care products

When you odor an unexplained odor, shot to note any patterns. For example, if you only notice it once you wake up in the middle of the night, it might be comes from your mattress. Keeping a log can also aid you describe your symptoms to your doctor.


Diagnosing phantosmia usually involves finding the end the basic cause. Your doctor will likely start through a physical exam that concentrates on your nose, ears, head, and neck. You’ll be asked about the species of odors friend smell, even if it is you odor them in one or both nostrils, and also how long the odors have tendency to pole around.

If your physician suspects a nose-related cause, they might do an endoscopy, which entails using a small camera dubbed an endoscope to gain a better look at the within of her nasal cavity.

If this exams don’t point to a certain cause, you may need one MRI scan or CT scan to ascendancy out any neurological conditions, such together Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor might additionally suggest one electroencephalogram to measure up the electrical task in your brain.


Phantosmia due to a cold, sinus infection, or respiratory tract infection need to go far on that own when the illness gets rid of up.

Treating neurological reasons of phantosmia are much more complicated, and also there are plenty of options, depending on the kind of condition and its location (for example, in the instance of a tumor or neuroblastoma). Your medical professional will help you come up with a treatment arrangement that works finest for your condition and also lifestyle.

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Regardless of the underlying reason of phantosmia, there are a couple of things you can do for relief. These include:

using one anesthetic spray come numb your olfactory nerve cells

Purchase a neti pot or oxymetazoline spray online.


if phantosmia is often as result of sinus problems, the can also be a symptom the a more serious neurological condition. If you notification symptoms for more than a job or two, call your physician to rule out any underlying causes that require treatment. They can additionally suggest means to minimization your symptoms so the phantosmia doesn’t gain in the means of your daily life.


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Medically the review by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — created by Diana Wells — updated on April 9, 2019