Phantosmia is a medical term that doctors use when someone smells something that isn’t present.
Phantosmia may also be described as the phantom scent or an auditory hallucination. The smells differ from person to person , but typically unpleasant, such as burned toast, metallic or chemical scents.
The nose is a problem such as sinusitis or disorders of the brain or nervous system like migraine stroke, schizophrenia, or migraine can trigger phantosmia.
The article below will will look into the possible causes as well as signs of phantosmia. We also discuss when to consult a physician, and how to distinguish phantosmia from other related disorders like parosmia.
What is Phantosmia?
Phantosmia can be a disorder that is connected to the sense of smell. It occurs when someone detects a scent that isn’t present.
The smell could only be visible only on one side of the nostril, or it could be affecting both nostrils.
Phantosmia is a relatively rare condition. It is a small percentage of 10-20 percent of the disorders that affect your sense of smell. Most of the time the phantosmia condition is not an issue to be concerned about and can be treated by itself.
But, phantosmia could be a sign of serious condition that is underlying, and patients should be sure to discuss the symptom with their physician.
Phantom smells can be pleasant, however people suffering from Phantosmia are more likely to report unpleasant, foul, or disgusting smells. They could be:
Toast that has burned
an odor of metallic or chemical
A smell that is rotting or unclean
an unpleasant smell that is stale, moldy or stale
It is often difficult for people to recognize the scent, or it could be a scent they’ve never experienced before.
Phantosmia is often a source of anxiety and could interfere with everyday life. It may affect a person’s perception of taste, which can lead to a decrease in eating habits and loss of weight.
The causes of phantosmia
People can experience phantom smells for a variety of reasons. They can be linked to the nose when the condition is called peripheral phantosmia or even to the brain, that is known as central phantosmia.
The nose (or nasal cavity) are among the most frequently reported for the development of disorders related to smell like the phantosmia. They include:
chronic sinus inflammations
The allergic rhinitis or hay fever
Non-allergic rhinitis is not a common occurrence.
Other times, phantom scents may be caused by difficulties with how the brain perceives the smell. This includes:
epilepsy or seizures
Trauma to the head
migraines, in which phantosmia may be an aura
If phantosmia is a result of nose problems, some people detect a stronger smell coming from one nostril than in the other. Anesthetic pads and saline rinses will often in reducing the smell.
If phantosmia is connected to the brain or the central nervous system the smells tend to be more pervasive. They may be evident during both the night and day and both nostrils more than just one can have the same smell.
Does it really an eerie smell?
In certain situations some people think they’re detecting a false smell, however, they could actually be experiencing a genuine but unanticipated smell.
The possible sources of unanticipated smells are:
recent changes to deodorant or other products for personal hygiene
new products, materials packaging, or new materials
an air conditioning unit that is new or heater or air filter, that could contain factory-made chemicals
Phantosmia vs. parosmia
Phantosmia is frequently confused with parosmia which is a distortion of smell.
Parosmia sufferers are able to smell real-world scents, but they’re deformed. For instance, the scent of flowers can create a smell of chemicals instead. People with parosmia often identify the smells that are distorted as unpleasant.
In a review from 2013, published by Trusted Source, parosmia as well as phantosmia frequently occur simultaneously and the latter is more prevalent than phantosmia.
Parosmia can be a source of distress and the symptoms can range from mild to serious. A severe case of parosmia can be life-threatening. People suffering from severe parosmia could be unable to manage their symptoms, even for a short time.
To identify phantosmia A doctor will examine the head and neck of the patient. They might inquire about other signs or symptoms, and may conduct tests to determine the person’s other senses.
A doctor can request an endoscopy or rhinoscopy in order to inspect the nasal cavity and look for problems that could lead to the condition known as phantosmia. They can also order specific and thorough tests or refer patients to an expert.
Imaging tests like CT scans MRI scans as well as EEG scans can be used to detect anomalies inside the nose, the brain or the nervous system.
The treatment for phantosmia is according to the root reason for the phantom smell.
Patients suffering from chronic sinusitis or other chronic nasal inflammation should consult your doctor regarding the best options for treatment. Treatment of the root cause must also take care of the smell that is a mystery.
If the symptoms last longer than a few days doctors will first suggest gentle remedies, like using the saline solution for washing off the passages in the nasal cavity. This can help to release any obstructions that are entrapped inside the nasal passageways, and ease symptoms.
Certain medications may help people who suffer from phantosmia for a long time manage their symptoms:
anesthetics to numb nerve cells of the nerve
Drugs to narrow blood vessels in the nose.
Steroid sprays or creams
In some instances doctors may resort to oral medication or surgery to cure the condition known as phantosmia. It is not always recommended surgery because it might only work in certain instances and surgeries come with their own dangers.
Phantosmia usually isn’t an issue to be concerned about as it usually disappears on its own.
It may be a sign of an even more severe issue and those who experience ghostly smells should visit their doctor to look for any underlying issues or complications.
The most effective treatment depends on the underlying cause of phantosmia. In some cases symptoms, they disappear at their own pace or after the nasal or sinus sickness that caused them is gone. In other instances the phantosmia can be persistent or last for a long time.
Doctors can help patients determine the treatment that is best for them . They can also suggest alternative ways to reduce the symptoms if they are they are able to do so.