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Anxiety And Phantom, Odd Smells

Jim Folk, BScN

Phantom Smells , such as odd, strong, acrid, metallic, blood-like, sour, ammonia-like, acidy, and repugnant smells, to name a few, are common anxiety disorder symptoms .

Many anxious people report having phantom and odd smells as an anxiety symptom.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and phantom and odd smells .

Article Menu

  • Symptom Descriptions

Considerations

Common phantom smells anxiety symptom descriptions.

  • You have an odd, awful, or bad smell in your nose.
  • You have a “blood-like” smell in your nose for no apparent reason.
  • You have an ammonia or bitter smell in your nose, yet you haven’t eaten or smelled anything that could cause this smell.
  • This unusual smell is not related to anything you’ve eaten or been exposed to.
  • Common descriptions of the smell include, “tinny,” “metallic,” “ammonia-like,” “blood-like,” “sour,” “bitter,” “acidy,” “vinegary,” “rotting-like,” and repugnant, to name a few.
  • No matter what you do, the phantom smell won’t go away.
  • This phantom smell isn’t related to anything medical or dental.
  • Even after you brush your teeth or use mouthwash, the bad smell in your nose remains.
  • This odd smell can change from one type of smell to another.
  • This “bad smell” can also be associated with a bad taste in the mouth, or only tasted but not smelled.
  • This symptom is often referred to as “phantosmia” – the illusion of a smell.

This odd smell can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently. For example, you have a bad smell once in a while and not that often, have it off and on, or have it all the time.

This odd smell can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms or occur by itself.

This phantom smell can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur “out of the blue” and for no apparent reason.

Phantom smells can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves where they are strong one moment and ease off the next.

Phantom smells can change from day to day and from moment to moment.

All the above combinations and variations are common.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test , Anxiety Disorder Test , or Hyperstimulation Test .

The higher the rating, the more likely anxiety could be contributing to or causing your anxiety symptoms, including feeling like impending doom symptoms.

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Medical Advisory

Talk to your doctor about all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms.

Additional Medical Advisory Information.

When phantom smells are caused by stress, including anxiety-caused stress, there can be many reasons why it occurs, including:

1. The stress response

Visit our “ Stress Response ” article for more information about its many changes.

Part of the stress response changes include slowing saliva production and heightening the body’s senses, including the chemosensory system that includes the sense of smell. The body does this so that we are more able to quickly detect a threat should one be present. These changes are beneficial when in real danger.

olfactory anatomy

Since smells come from two pathways – the nostrils, and a channel that connects the roof of the throat to the nose – reduced saliva and an altered sense of smell can cause odd and phantom smells when the stress response is active.

Moreover, research has found that stress can modulate sweet and salt thresholds,[ 3 ][ 4 ] such as via the endocannabinoid system (which plays an important role in appetite and taste),[ 5 ] creating odd tastes and smells.

The higher the degree of the stress response, the more dramatic the changes.

Since stress responses push the body beyond its balance point, stress responses stress the body. As such, anxiety stresses the body.

Many anxious people notice odd smells when a stress response has been activated.

An active stress response is a common cause of odd smells.

2. Hyperstimulation (chronic stress)

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can quickly recover from the many stress response changes.

However, the body can't completely recover when stress responses occur too frequently, such as from overly apprehensive behavior.

Incomplete recovery can leave the body in a state of semi-stress response readiness, which we call “ stress-response hyperstimulation ” since stress hormones are powerful stimulants.

Visit our “ Hyperstimulation ” article for more information about the many ways hyperstimulation can affect the body and how we feel.

Hyperstimulation chronically stresses the body, causing chronic stress response changes, including those that affect the chemosensory system (chemical senses).

Having phantom smells is a common indication of hyperstimulation (chronic stress) and how it can affect olfactory processing.

3. A reduction in saliva can cause harmful bacteria to flourish in the mouth, causing odd smells in the nose

As mentioned, the stress response suppresses saliva production. Consequently, hyperstimulation can cause persistent saliva suppression.

A chronic reduction in saliva can allow harmful bacteria to build up in the mouth. The buildup of harmful bacteria can alter the flora in your mouth, which can lead to having a bad tastes and smells from the growth of bacteria.

4. The stress response affects the stomach and digestive system

The stress response also affects the stomach and digestive system.[ 8 ] For example, the stress response suppresses digestion so that all the body’s resources are available for emergency action. These changes can be helpful when in real danger but can cause problems when the stress response is activated too often.

When the body becomes hyperstimulated due to the chronic activation of the stress response, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, we can experience many stomach and digestive system problems. These problems can cause gas, bloating, stomach upset, and fermenting food, which can affect the taste in the mouth and smells in the nose.

5. Stress adversely affects the nervous system

Moreover, hyperstimulation can cause the nervous system to behave erratically, which can cause the “misreporting” of sensory information, such as smell.[ 10 ] Many anxious people get phantom smells due to hyperstimulation and how that affects the body’s nervous system and chemosensory system, including the olfactory cells.

6. Hyperstimulation can suppress the body’s immune system making the body more vulnerable to intruders

The stress response also suppresses the body’s immune system.[ 8 ] While short-term immune system suppression isn’t harmful, chronic suppression, such as that caused by hyperstimulation, can allow intruders to take hold.

Sinus infections can cause bad, unusual, and phantom smells in the nose.

7. Hyperstimulation can cause an increase in Candida.

However, stress, which suppresses the immune system and causes an increase in blood sugar, can cause Candida to flourish. An overgrowth of Candida in the mouth can cause a bad taste and odd smells.

Any one or combination of stress and anxiety factors, can cause phantom smells, which can be intermittent or persist for as long as the body is hyperstimulated.

8. Side effect of anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, especially when withdrawing.

Many medications, including anti-anxiety and antidepressants, can cause phantom smells as a side effect,[ 12 ] especially when withdrawing.

Phantom smells can also be a side effect of other mood-altering and gastric medications.

Other Factors

Other factors can create stress and cause anxiety-like symptoms, as well as aggravate existing anxiety symptoms, including:

  • Recreational drugs
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hyper and hypoventilation
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Dehydration
  • Hormone changes

Select the relevant link for more information.

When this symptom is caused or aggravated by other factors, addressing those factors can reduce and eliminate it.

When this symptom is caused by an active stress response, calming yourself down will end the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this anxiety symptom should subside.

Keep in mind it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When this symptom is caused by hyperstimulation (chronic stress), we need to eliminate hyperstimulation before this symptom subsides.

When this symptom is caused by hyperstimulation (chronic stress), eliminating hyperstimulation will end this anxiety symptom.

You can eliminate hyperstimulation by:

  • Reducing stress.
  • Containing anxious behavior (since anxiety creates stress).
  • Regular deep relaxation.
  • Avoiding stimulants.
  • Regular light to moderate exercise.
  • Getting regular good sleep.
  • Eating a healthy diet of whole and natural foods.
  • Passively-accepting your symptoms until they subside.
  • Being patient as your body recovers.

Visit our “ 60 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress ” article for more ways to reduce stress.

As the body recovers from hyperstimulation, it stops sending symptoms of hyperstimulation, including phantom smells.

Hyperstimulation symptoms subside as the body regains its normal, non-hyperstimulated health.

However, eliminating hyperstimulation can take much longer than most people think, causing symptoms to linger longer than expected.

As long as the body is even slightly hyperstimulated, it can present symptoms of any type, number, intensity, duration, frequency, and at any time, including this one.

Even so, since phantom smells anxiety symptoms are a common symptom of stress, including anxiety-caused stress, it's harmless and needn't be a cause for concern. It will subside when unhealthy stress has been eliminated and the body has had sufficient time to recover and stabilize. Therefore, there is no reason to worry about it.

Anxiety symptoms often linger because:

  • The body is still being stressed (from stressful circumstances or anxious behavior).
  • Your stress hasn't diminished enough or for long enough.
  • Your body hasn't completed its recovery work.

Addressing the reason for lingering symptoms will allow the body to recover.

Most often, lingering anxiety symptoms ONLY remain because of the above reasons. They AREN'T a sign of a medical problem. This is especially true if you have had your symptoms evaluated by your doctor, and they have been solely attributed to anxiety or stress.

Chronic anxiety symptoms subside when hyperstimulation is eliminated. As the body recovers and stabilizes, all chronic anxiety symptoms will slowly diminish and eventually disappear.

Since worrying and becoming upset about anxiety symptoms stress the body, these behaviors can interfere with recovery.

Passively accepting your symptoms – allowing them to persist without reacting to, resisting, worrying about, or fighting them – while doing your recovery work will cause their cessation in time.

Acceptance, practice, and patience are key to recovery.

Since the body can take a long time to recover from hyperstimulation, it's best to faithfully work at your recovery despite the lack of apparent progress.

However, if you persevere with your recovery work, you will succeed.

You also have to do your recovery work FIRST before your body can recover. The cumulative effects of your recovery work will produce results down the road. And the body's stimulation has to diminish before symptoms can subside.

Eliminating hyperstimulation will bring results in time!

Remember: Focusing on your sensations and symptoms makes them more pronounced. If you'd like to lessen their impact, learn to focus your attention elsewhere through distraction, enjoying your hobbies, undertaking pleasing and calming activities, regular deep relaxation, and by recalling pleasant memories or experiences.

When you do the right work, the body HAS TO recover. As the body recovers, it stops sending symptoms of hyperstimulation, including phantom smells.

Addressing your underlying factors ( Level Two recovery ) is most important if you want lasting success.

Addressing Level Two recovery can help you:

  • Contain anxious behavior.
  • Become unafraid of anxiety symptoms and the strong feelings of anxiety.
  • End anxiety symptoms.
  • Successfully address the underlying factors that so often cause issues with anxiety.
  • End what can feel like out-of-control worry.

All our recommended anxiety therapists have had anxiety disorder and overcame it. Their personal experience with anxiety disorder and their Master's Degree and above professional training gives them insight other therapists don't have.

If you want to achieve lasting success over anxiety disorder, any one of our recommended therapists would be a good choice.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to treat anxiety disorder, especially if you have persistent symptoms and difficulty containing anxious behavior, such as worry.

In many cases, working with an experienced therapist is the only way to overcome stubborn anxiety.

In an online poll we conducted, 46 percent of respondents said they had phantom smells as an anxiety symptom.

If this symptom is caused by stomach and digestive system problems that don’t resolve through stress reduction, you may want to talk with your doctor and a Nutrition Science Practitioner for more information.

If this symptom is caused by a persistent sinus infection, you should talk with your doctor and find ways to boost your immune system.

If this symptom is caused by an overgrowth of Candida, you may want to talk with a Nutrition Science Practitioner for natural ways to reduce Candida.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can anxiety cause phantom and odd smells.

Yes, anxiety and the stress it causes can cause many odd symptoms, including phantom and odd smells. Many anxious people get phantom and odd smells symptoms. I (Jim Folk) did, too, during my 12-year struggle with anxiety disorder.

Is anxiety-caused phantom smells serious?

No, anxiety-caused phantom smells are not serious because this symptom is just another symptom of anxiety and chronic stress (hyperstimulation). It will subside when you address your anxiety and stress issues. I (Jim Folk) have not had it since I recovered in 1986.

Can anxiety phantom smells symptoms become permanent?

Because anxiety-caused phantom smells is a symptom of anxiety and chronic stress (hyperstimulation), it isn’t permanent. It will subside when you address your anxiety and chronic stress issues. However, it can persist for as long as you are anxious and your body is chronically stressed.

Should I be worried about anxiety phantom smells symptoms?

No, there is no reason to be worried about the anxiety symptom phantom smells. It will subside when you address your anxiety and chronic stress issues.

However, worry, an apprehensive behavior that creates anxiety and stress, can prolong phantom smells. So, there is a good reason not to worry about it. But, as long as the body is chronically stressed, it can exhibit symptoms, including phantom smells.

That said, since many medical conditions and medications can cause phantom smells as a side effect, especially when withdrawing from a medication, we recommend discussing all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms with your doctor to ensure it is solely anxiety-related. If it is solely anxiety related, there is no reason to worry about it.

Common Anxiety Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness, tingling
  • Weakness, weak limbs
  • Asthma and anxiety
  • Shooting chest pains
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Depersonalization
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Lump in throat

Additional Resources

  • For a comprehensive list of Anxiety Disorders Symptoms Signs, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks symptoms  can be powerful experiences. Find out what they are and how to stop them.
  • How to stop an anxiety attack and panic.
  • Anxiety Test
  • Anxiety Disorder Test
  • Social Anxiety Test
  • Generalized Anxiety Test
  • Hyperstimulation Test
  • Anxiety 101 is a summarized description of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and how to overcome it.

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including phantom and odd smells anxiety symptoms.

1. Berczi, Istvan. “ Walter Cannon's ‘Fight or Flight Response’ - ‘Acute Stress Response. ’” Walter Cannon's "Fight or Flight Response"  - "Acute Stress Response", 2017.

2. Godoy, Livea, et al. " A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications. " Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.

3. Ileri-Gurel, Esin, et al. " Effect of Acute Stress on Taste Perception: In Relation with Baseline Anxiety Level and Body Weight. " Chemical Senses, 2 Sep 2012.

4. al’Absi, Mustafa, et al. " Exposure to Acute Stress is Associated with Attenuated Sweet Taste. " Psychophysiology, 19 Sep 2011.

5. Yoshida, Ryusuke, et al. " Endocannabinoids selectively enhance sweet taste. " Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 22, Dec 2009.

6. "The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis." DUJS Online. N.p., 03 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2016.

7. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “ The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review. ” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.

8. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “ Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives. ” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.

9. Bear,Connors, Paradiso (2016). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain - Fourth Edition. In Sensory and Motor Systems (pp. 265-517). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer

10. Z, Fatahi, et al. " Effect of acute and subchronic stress on electrical activity of basolateral amygdala neurons in conditioned place preference paradigm: An electrophysiological study. " Behavioral Brain Research, 29 Sept. 2017.

11. Jill Seladi-Schulman, PhD. “ Candida Albicans: Infections, Symptoms, and Treatments. ” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 9 Aug. 2018.

12. Bainbridge, Kathleen, et al. " Prescription Medication Use and Phantom Odor Perception Among US Adults. " Chemosensory Perception, 1 Oct 2022.

13. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “ The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses. ” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012.

14. Leichsenring, Falk. “ Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy? ” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017.

15. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.

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Phantosmia: what causes olfactory hallucinations, what causes olfactory hallucinations (phantosmia).

An olfactory hallucination (phantosmia) makes you detect smells that aren't really there in your environment.

The odors you notice in phantosmia are different from person to person and may be foul or pleasant. You may notice the smells in one or both nostrils. The phantom smell may seem to always be there or it may come and go.

Phantosmia may be caused by a head injury or upper respiratory infection. It can also be caused by aging, trauma, temporal lobe seizures, inflamed sinuses, brain tumors, certain medications and Parkinson's disease. Phantosmia can also result from COVID-19 infection.

Talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms of phantosmia, so that they can rule out any serious underlying disorders that may be causing olfactory hallucination.

Parosmia is another smell disorder that's similar to phantosmia. But in parosmia a smell that's present in your environment is changed and doesn't smell as it typically would. Parosmia can occur with damage to the olfactory system. This can happen after a severe respiratory infection, including COVID-19 .

Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.

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  • Flint PW, et al., eds. Olfactory function and dysfunction. In: Cummings Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 23, 2022.
  • Lafreniere D. Taste and olfactory disorders in adults: Anatomy and etiology. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 23, 2022.
  • Lalwani AK. Olfactory dysfunction. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020. https://www.accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 23, 2022.
  • Whitcroft KL, et al. Olfactory dysfunction in COVID-19: Diagnosis and management. JAMA. 2020; doi:10.1001/jama.2020.8391.

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All About Psychology

Does it smell weird? Don’t panic, it’s probably a “phantom smell”

phantom smell what is

What is that smell? Don’t you smell it? Doesn’t it smell like spoiled food, burnt plastic, smoke…?

If you are over 40 years old, it is likely that it has happened to you on more than one occasion. You perceive a penetrating smell but the people next to you do not perceive it. How is it possible? It is not that you have super powers but that you suffer from an olfactory hallucination or phantosmia.

What is a phantom smell?

Phantosmia is a phenomenon that occurs when we perceive an odor that does not have a real source in the environment. The phantom smell was first discovered by the French neurologist Jules Cotard in the late 19th century. In his clinical work, Cotard noticed that some of his patients, suffering from depression and mental disorders, experienced persistent unpleasant odors that were not present in their environment.

Although Cotard initially attributed the perception of these odors to mental problems, over time he realized that it was present in many of his other patients who did not present any other psychiatric symptoms, so the phantom smell was a real phenomenon and objectifiable. Now, a study developed at the University of Vermont discovered that 1 in 15 people perceive odors that are not in the environment.

After analyzing 7,417 people, these researchers found that the prevalence of phantom smells is not related to our ability to correctly identify odors. That is to say, no matter how fine the nose is, it can happen to everyone.

Interestingly, people between the ages of 40 and 60 experience more phantom smells. This phenomenon is also more common in women, who are twice as likely to perceive non-existent odors, especially those under 60 years of age.

Phantosmia: causes of phantom smell ing

This olfactory experience can be a sign of an underlying health problem or a completely harmless experience.

1. Health problems. In some cases, a phantom smell can be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as a brain injury, sinus infection, or neurological disease. In other cases, phantosmia can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety. It has also been associated with persistent dry mouth sensation.

2. Side effects of medications. Some medications can cause a phantom smell as a side effect. Drugs used to treat epilepsy and migraine, for example, have been linked to phantosmia in some people. Also under scrutiny are some chemotherapeutic agents, antihypertensives, certain antibiotics, and medications for depression .

3. Alterations of the olfactory system. Phantom smell can also be caused by disturbances in the olfactory system. For example, aging, injuries to the nose, or problems with the olfactory nerves can affect our ability to properly perceive odors. In fact, it could be related to hyperactivity in the odor detection cells in the nasal cavity, or to a malfunction in the part of the brain that interprets these signals or a decreased neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb.

4. Environmental factors. Phantosmia can also be a response to environmental factors such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, or chemicals. People exposed to these factors may perceive odors that are not in the environment due to nasal irritation. In fact, phantosmia is more common in smokers than in ex-smokers or those who have never smoked.

5. Differences in olfactory perception. There may be odors present in the environment that are not detected by other people due to differences in olfactory perception. Also, odors can be perceived differently by each person, which means that a smell that one person describes as “ghost” could be perceived as real by another.

Different hypotheses are currently being considered to explain the causes of phantosmia. For example, the biological mechanism of phantom smell perception is thought to be due to aberrant peripheral olfactory sensory neurons, which activate perception centers in the brain in the absence of an odor. It could also be overactive brain cells that create that false perception.

Phantosmia due to anxiety and stress?

In some cases, anxiety could also be at the root of phantosmia. Neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison exposed a group of people to a series of disturbing images, such as car accidents and war scenes, to generate a state of anxiety and stress. Meanwhile, they were scanning their brains.

They found that stress and anxiety caused the brain circuits for smell and emotion to “cross over”. These researchers explain that normally, these brain circuits don’t “talk” to each other, but they do connect when we experience stress-induced anxiety. That means that stressful experiences transform neutral odors into unpleasant ones.

Just as a scent can trigger different emotions, when we feel anxious or stressed, the emotional system becomes part of the olfactory processing stream. These neuroscientists also suggested that this effect could accumulate over time; that is, the more anxiety we experience, the more cross-wiring between these two brain circuits becomes stronger, resulting in more neutral scents becoming unpleasant and we experience those phantom smells more often.

How to differentiate a phantom smell from a real one?

It should be noted that not all subjectively perceived odors are “phantom”. It is possible that there are odors in the environment that other people do not detect due to differences in olfactory perception. Also, everyone can perceive smells differently, which means that a smell that someone describes as “phantom” could be perceived as real by another person.

To determine if an odor is real or phantom when no one else is with us, we must analyze the source of the odor to make sure it is not coming from the environment and is a false alarm. In many cases, the phantom smell is not confined to one place, so it is impossible to find where it comes from, unlike real odors, which become more intense as we get closer to their origin.

How to deal with phantom smells?

“Phantom smells” are a relatively common experience and usually does not cause problems beyond the annoyance caused by the odor. In most cases they go away on their own, but they can also get worse over time.

Distorted olfactory perception usually affects quality of life, although it is often a problem that is trivialized. However, it can cause frustration and great insecurity in those who suffer it since they cannot trust their sense of smell to detect possible dangers, from the smoke of a fire to food that has spoiled or the smell of a natural gas leak.

When the phantosmia worsens, the person remains alert and tense all the time. For that reason, if it happens to you often, it is important that you seek the help of a professional who can rule out medical or psychological causes.

Phantosmia is approached in a multidisciplinary way, so it is better to first consult an otolaryngologist, who will perform an olfactory test. If no problem is detected, the next step is to rule out a brain lesion with a neurologist. In the event that no physical source can be found to explain the phantom smell, you will need to seek help from a psychologist to treat anxiety, depression, or any other problem that is at the root of this condition.

Bainbridge, K. E. et. Al. (2018) Factors Associated With Phantom Odor Perception Among US AdultsFindings From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg ; 144(9): 807-814. 

Krusemark, E. A. & Li, W. (2013) From Early Sensory Specialization to Later Perceptual Generalization: Dynamic Temporal Progression in Perceiving Individual Threats.  Journal of Neuroscience ; 33 (2): 587-594.

Jennifer Delgado

Psychologist Jennifer Delgado

I am a psychologist and I spent several years writing articles for scientific journals specialized in Health and Psychology. I want to help you create great experiences. Learn more about me .

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Home » Daily » Eyes, Ears, Nose & Throat » Phantom Smells: What Are They and What Do They Mean?

Phantom Smells: What Are They and What Do They Mean?

Something stinks but what is it if you've sniffed something that isn’t there, you may have experienced phantom smells—phantosmia, which could be a sign of a seizure, stroke, or brain tumor..

phantom smells

Eww—what's that odor? If you can't find the source, it could be a "phantom smell," which may be harmless or, in some cases, a sign of a potentially serious condition.

Photo 115713562 © Kowniewping - Dreamstime.com

Ever smelled smoke, burnt toast, or sewage when there was no such scent around? You could be one of millions who experience phantom smells, or phantosmia, as it’s known in the medical community (more on that in the sidebar “What is Phantosmia?”).

According to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery , one in 15 Americans smells a phantom smell. Most often, these phantom smells are unpleasant (e.g., burning hair, sewage, or cigarette smoke). Sometimes they’re an indication that something more serious is going on—like a brain tumor or an epileptic seizure. The good news: Phantosmia often decreases with age, especially in women.

So, what are phantom smells? “A phantom odor is when someone perceives an odor but there is nothing in the environment that corresponds to the odor,” explains Kathleen Bainbridge, PhD, an epidemiologist in the Epidemiology and Statistics Program at the National Institutes of Health .

These phantom smells are commonly perceived as negative. The adjectives used to describe the most prevalent scents include smoky, burnt, unpleasant, spoiled, or rotten, according to Swedish researchers . Metallic smells, cooked food, and dusty or dirty odors were also noted.

On a positive note, some phantosmic people experience their phantom smell as neutral or positive (e.g., perfume or a flower). According to the study, these smells appear fleetingly, most commonly lasting for a few minutes.

WHAT IS PHANTOSMIA?

The medical term used to describe phantom smells is phantosmia, a disorder also known as an olfactory hallucination. Those who suffer from phantosmia experience imaginary odors. Some smell the odor in one nostril while others catch a whiff through both.

For certain people with phantosmia, the phantom smell may be chronic while others say it comes and goes. Causes include a head injury , brain tumor, Parkinson’s disease , upper respiratory infection, and inflamed sinuses.

What Causes Phantom Smells?

Ever wondered, “Why do I smell something that is not there?” Turns out a bunch of factors may be at play.

“The causes of phantom odor perception are not understood,” Dr. Bainbridge says. “The condition could be related to overactive odor sensing nerve cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals.”

Some of the most common causes of phantom smells may include:

  • Age (those over 40 are more likely to experience phantom smells)
  • Brain tumor
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Dysfunction at the olfactory nerve
  • Genes (Swedish researchers have found a link between the BDNF met allele and phantosmia)
  • Head injury
  • Inflamed sinuses
  • Medications (especially those that cause dry mouth)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Parosmia (a condition that involves a distorted sense of smell – smelling odors that are different than the scent involved)
  • Poor overall health
  • Temporal lobe seizure
  • Upper respiratory infection

Those who are of a low socio-economic status are more likely to experience phantom smells. The reason? “People with lower socio-economic status may have health conditions that contribute to phantom odors, either directly or because of medications needed to treat their health conditions,” Dr. Bainbridge explains.

Phantom Smells Are a Symptom of…

Since our sense of taste is directly tied to our sense of smell, phantosmia can cause frustrating effects. But, Dr. Bainbridge reassures, “Phantom odors are not known to be a sign of serious underlying illness.”

As for their negative qualities, phantom smells can have an impact a person’s internal warning system. Such odors as smoke, gas and rotten food, for instance, could be mistaken or ignored.

THE “UNCLE” HALLUCINATION

The phantom smell you experience could tell you something about your health, says Alan Hirsch, MD, of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Those who smell burning rubber, or smoke, for instance may be suffering from an “uncle hallucination” associated with temporal lobe epilepsy. “These uncle hallucinations are the equivalent of seeing light in migraine, but instead, [people] can smell smells,” he says.

Phantom smells also can lead to a decrease in appetite, they can turn someone off certain foods, and they may prevent the enjoyment of things (e.g., ice cream) that someone once favored. As such, phantom smells can actually result in depression , negative mood, and difficulties socializing.

Furthermore, Alan Hirsch, MD, Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, believes “phantom smells may indicate a medical or psychological condition.”

A few psychological illnesses that could cause phantom smells include:

  • Delusional disorder
  • Cotard’s syndrome
  • Schizophrenia?
  • Olfactory reference syndrome

Are Phantom Smells Common?

Quite. In her study of 7,417 U.S. adults over the age of 40, some 6.5 percent experienced phantom odors, Dr. Bainbridge found. “We found a higher prevalence in 40- to 60-year-olds compared to 60-plus-year-olds,” says Bainbridge. Her study also found that women are more likely to experience phantom smells than men.

The good news: Phantom smells seem to decrease with age.

How to Get Rid of Phantom Smells

Unfortunately, there is a lack of consensus on this important topic. That could be part of the reason why only 11 percent of those who suffer phantom smells seek professional help.

According to Hirsch, the first step to treating phantom smells is diagnosing their cause. Once you’ve determined why you’re smelling something that isn’t there, he says, you can try to treat it. “If it’s temporal lobe epilepsy, then you treat it with anticonvulsants,” Hirsch explains. “If it’s a tumor, then you cut the tumor out. If it’s sinusitis, you treat it with antibiotics.”

In some cases, the phantom smell is idiopathic, meaning it has no known cause. Essentially the brain is misinterpreting sensory stimuli. “The air is coming in through the nose and it’s being processed as a smell,” Hirsch explains. To combat this, some doctors treat patients with anticonvulsants. Here’s how they work: First, the brain views the air as a smell. Then, the anticonvulsant destabilizes “the nerve membrane [so] the nerves don’t fire off and the smell goes away.”

Other times, phantom smells result from smell loss. “When you lose your sense of smell, sometimes a phantom smell will appear and replace the smell that you no longer have,” Hirsch explains. The solution: to treat the underlying condition (i.e. smell loss) to improve phantosmia.

That said, Bainbridge claims “there are no reliable treatments for people who find phantom odors to be bothersome. Sometimes medications are tried. Sometimes, people have to cope with the symptoms until they subside.”  Confused yet?

Note: See a doctor if you’re constantly noticing a phantom smell, or if you notice a loss of smell. He or she may conduct various tests to determine the cause of your condition. Once phantom smells occur, “it may be nothing, or it may indicate an underlying disease that needs treatment,” Hirsch says.

How to Tell Whether You’re Experiencing Phantom Smells

It’s tough to know whether you’re smelling something that others aren’t. Next time you smell something strange, ask someone nearby if he or she smells the same thing.

Another test: Hold your nose and your breath to see if the smell disappears. Then, try Hirsch’s ice cream test to establish whether you’re struggling with reduced smell. Here’s how:

Step 1: Get two bowls of ice cream: one of vanilla and the other chocolate Step 2: Taste the vanilla ice cream Step 3: Taste the chocolate ice cream Step 4: Determine whether you can taste a difference between the two.

“More than 90 percent of taste is smell, so almost all of chocolate is the smell, not the taste of it,” Hirsch says. “If you lose your sense of smell, it tastes the same as vanilla ice cream. So, if you can’t tell the difference between those two, that may indicate that you’ve had a a smell loss.”

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Do You Smell That? Phantom Smells and Why We Have Them

We all know to worry about the smell of burnt orange, but what about orange juice? Phantom smells come in many forms and not all of them are causes for concern. However, it’s essential to know the difference between harmless hallucinations and when to sniff out danger.

What are Phantom Smells

Phantosmia, the fancy word for phantom smells, is a sense of smell disorder. It occurs when a person smells something that isn’t there. The odor may only affect one side of the nose or both nostrils. This is a relatively uncommon condition and makes up to 20% of smell-related disorders. Most cases lack a need for concern and will dissipate on their own. However, a rare number of cases indicate a health problem and should always be discussed with your doctor. Phantom smells can range over a variety of odors from pleasant to unpleasant with the most common being:

  • Burnt toast
  • Burning rubber
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Chemical or metallic smell
  • Spoiled or rotting smell
  • Stale or moldy smell

Oftentimes, sufferers are unable to identify the smell.

What Causes Phantosmia?

There are many reasons people experience phantom smells. Whether related to the nose or cognitive function, called central phantosmia, phantom smells can be distressing. Phantom smell problems with your nasal cavity may include:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Chronic sinus infections

Phantom smells associated with central phantosmia may include:

  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Head trauma
  • Medications

Phantosmia vs. Parosmia

Sometimes, phantosmia is confused with parosmia. Parosmia is a distorted sense of smell, when you are smelling real things but not accurately. For example, smelling oranges might smell like chemical cleaner instead. People with parosmia often describe the smells as unpleasant.

To make things even more confusing, phantosmia and parosmia often occur congruently, though parosmia is more common. Symptoms of parosmia range from mild to severe with the most severe forms causing debilitation as sufferers struggle to manage their symptoms.

A diagnosis of phantosmia is performed by a doctor after a physical exam of the patient’s head and neck. They may inquire about other symptoms and perform further tests based on your answers to narrow down possibilities.

Further tests may include endoscopy or rhinoscopy to get a better look at the nasal cavity and rule out polyps or tumors.

When to Worry

Phantosmia is not often cause for concern, but if you are experiencing phantom smells you should always talk to your doctor.

Strange smells stressing you out? Learn how to manage your stress here !

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Phantom smells may be more common than thought, study finds

Image: Bad Smell

Phantom smells can be a sign of a serious health problem, but until now it’s not been known how many people experience them.

A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans over the age of 40 detect strange odors like burning hair or rotting food when nothing is actually there. The study, published Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery , is the first in the U.S. to estimate how common the phenomenon is in nationally representative data.

“Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance," said Judith A. Cooper, acting director of the the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health. "They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks and spoiled food.”

Researchers used data from 7,417 participants over 40 years of age from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey . The data was collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millions of Americans experience some type of olfactory problem, including conditions such as anosmia, or the inability to smell; hyposmia, a decreased ability to smell; and parosmia, a distorted perception of smell. Many people with smelling disorders also have issues with taste, because smell and taste are inextricably linked.

"Phantom smells are not known to be a sign of disease," said epidemiologist and lead author Kathleen Bainbridge of the communications disorders institute. "However, we found phantom odors to be more common among people who have fair or poor health."

Brief episodes of phantosmia , or phantom smells, can be triggered by temporal lobe seizures, epilepsy or head trauma. Phantosmia is also associated with Alzheimer’s and occasionally with the onset of a migraine.

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People who experience strong phantom odors often struggle with their weight and may have a miserable quality of life, according to otolaryngologist Dr. Donald Leopold of the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, one of the study authors.

Most phantom smells are bad — rotten eggs, garbage or spoiled food are commonly reported. The causes of phantom odor perception are not well understood, but women seem to be affected twice as often as men, according to the new study. While the ability to identify odors overall tends to decrease with age, phantom smell perception seems to improve as people get older.

Medical tests such as MRIs or CT scans can find common physiological triggers such as tumor, sinus infection and epilepsy, but some patients never understand why they’re suddenly inundated by mysterious odors.

"The condition could be related to overactive odor-sensing cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals," said Bainbridge.

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Phantom smells: a prevalent COVID-19 symptom that progressively sets in

Christophe bousquet.

Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, CNRS UMR5292, INSERM U1028, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CH Le Vinatier, Bât. 462 Neurocampus, 95 boulevard Pinel, 69675 Bron Cedex, France

Kamar Bouchoucha

Moustafa bensafi, camille ferdenzi, associated data.

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

One of the long-term symptoms of COVID-19 is phantosmia, a type of Olfactory Disorder (OD) that has deleterious impacts on patients’ quality of life. The aim of this article was to study how this poorly understood qualitative OD manifests itself in the COVID-19.

4691 patients with COVID-19 responded to our online questionnaire focusing on COVID-19-related OD. We first analyzed the prevalence of phantosmia in this population. Then, with the help of Natural Language Processing techniques, we investigated the qualitative descriptions of phantom smells by the 1723 respondents who reported phantosmia.

The prevalence of phantosmia was of 37%. Women were more likely to report phantosmia than men, as well as respondents for whom OD was described as fluctuating rather than permanent, lasted longer, was partial rather than total and appeared progressively rather than suddenly. The relationship between OD duration and phantosmia followed a logarithmic function, with a prevalence of phantosmia increasing strongly during the first 2 months of the disease before reaching a plateau and no decrease over the 15 months considered in this study. Qualitative analyses of phantosmia descriptions with a sentiment analysis revealed that the descriptions were negatively valenced for 78% of the respondents. Reference to “tobacco” was more frequent in non-smokers. Source names and odor characteristics were used differently according to age and OD duration.

The results of this descriptive study of phantosmia contribute to the current efforts of the medical community to better understand and treat this rapidly increasing COVID-19-related OD.

Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s00405-022-07649-4.

Introduction

Quantitative Olfactory Disorders (ODs) are some of the earliest symptoms of COVID-19 [ 1 , 2 ], as well as one of the longest lasting once acute symptoms of the disease have been cured [ 3 , 4 ], inducing a reduction in the quality of life of patients [ 5 ]. Besides quantitative ODs, qualitative ones are also reported. These are parosmia (when olfactory sources smell differently than usual) and phantosmia: phantom smells are strange subjective experiences—olfactory hallucinations—occurring when no odor source is present in the environment [ 6 ]. These qualitative disorders often have an even more deleterious impact on daily life than the quantitative partial (i.e., hyposmia) or total (i.e., anosmia) loss of smell [ 6 , 7 ], even though patients rarely seek medical support [ 8 ]. Research on COVID-19-induced OD reports that both parosmia and phantosmia become more prevalent as OD duration increases [ 9 – 11 ]. It has even been found that they can appear after a period of apparent recovery from COVID-19-induced OD [ 12 ].

Before the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, research on phantosmia was not very advanced, potentially due to the subjective nature of this sensory phenomenon. However, coupled with research on other forms of sensory hallucinations, a few findings have emerged. First, the prevalence of phantosmia varies depending on the studies and the populations investigated (from 6.5% of the general population in , to 10% of Parkinson’s patients in , and 25.6% of patients with chemosensory and nasal/sinus complaints in ). This figure rises to 50% for patients suffering from head trauma or post-viral upper respiratory infections [ 14 ]. In COVID-19 patients, the prevalence of phantosmia also fluctuates between studies, from 10% [ 15 ] to 34% when OD is still present up to 11 months after the acute phase of the disease [ 11 ]. Second, the underlying mechanisms responsible for phantosmia and other sensory hallucinations are far from being understood, but typically involve peripheral and central causes [ 6 , 16 ]. Third, phantom smells vary widely in their forms from subject to subject [ 16 ]: they may have different durations and frequencies of occurrence, and may be associated or not with other ODs. They are also more often reported by women than by men [ 8 , 16 ], but not always [ 10 ]. Besides, contrary to quantitative ODs that increase with age, experiencing phantom smells was found to be not affected by age [ 17 , 18 ], or even to be more frequent in younger individuals [ 8 , 16 ].

While quantitative ODs can be assessed objectively with psychophysiological methods [ 19 ], the subjectivity of phantom smells invites to study them by letting participants fill in questionnaires about their experiences. This can even be done online, which is particularly convenient when patients cannot be approached, as was the case at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, phantom smells are preconceived as negative by the investigators based on past experience with patients [ 8 , 10 , 14 , 16 ]. Instead, in this article we present data obtained from an online questionnaire in which we framed questions about phantom smells in such a way that participants can describe them freely. The diversity of answers obtained with this approach called for an analysis based on Natural Language Processing (NLP), a set of techniques enabling, among other things, to reveal the valence contained in human language [ 20 ].

Given the extent of reported OD following COVID-19 (43% of COVID-19 patients worldwide according to a meta-analysis [ 21 ]) and the millions of cases over the world since the SARS-CoV-2 appeared, it is mathematical that the number of people suffering from phantosmia will increase significantly in the coming months. It is therefore important to characterize this phenomenon in order to provide the most comprehensive descriptive model possible and to better inform patients and practitioners. We further focused on how different individual characteristics could influence phantom smell perception. For instance, women are often found to react more emotionally to odors and are better at identifying odors [ 22 ]. In addition, older adults tend to report fewer emotional experiences (positive or negative) than younger adults [ 23 ]. When describing a smell, older adults also appear to use references to its characteristics more often than to its source [ 24 ]. As phantom smells are often related to something burning, smoking status may also play a role. Finally, all aspects of the associated quantitative OD (type, onset speed, persistence and duration) could impact how the phantosmia is described. With this in mind, our study has four main objectives. Firstly, we determine the prevalence of phantosmia in COVID-19 patients with OD. Secondly, we seek to identify factors modulating this prevalence, including gender, age and smoking status of the participants as well as the characteristics of their OD (type, onset speed, persistence and duration). Thirdly, we refine the study of the dynamics of the occurrence of phantosmia after contracting COVID-19 by comparing different models (linear, quadratic and logarithmic). Fourthly, we investigate the words used in the descriptions of the phantosmia, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In particular, we look at whether the number of keywords used varies between participants and at the variables that influence the valence of the descriptions or the use of certain categories of words.

Participants

Participants in an online survey ( https://form.crnl.fr/index.php/146862?lang=fr ) answered questions about their sociodemographic status, their COVID-19 status and their OD status (see details in [ 5 ]) between 8 April 2020 and 20 April 2021. To be included in the analysis, participants had to complete the entire questionnaire for the first time, have been positive for COVID-19 (either via a PCR test or, for participants at the beginning of the pandemic, based on their symptoms as it was a common way to detect COVID-19 due to limited access to PCR tests), and have reported having an OD. For the full inclusion criteria and inclusion tree, see Fig. S1. The final sample consisted of 4691 participants: 3763 women (80.2%) and 928 men (19.8%), with an average age of 40.4 ± 12.5 years-old (mean ± sd). Among them, 1723 were considered to have phantosmia (i.e., their descriptions fitted the definition of phantom smells).

Evaluation of phantosmia

Unlike other studies focusing on phantosmia [ 8 , 14 , 16 , 18 ], we decided to ask an open-ended question with as little guidance as possible. In our opinion, this approach is justified by the fact that phantom smells are inherently a subjective experience. The exact formulation of our question was (originally in French): “In the last few days/weeks, have you had any olfactory hallucinations (phantom smells)?”. If the participants answered "Yes" to this question, they were then given the opportunity to freely describe these phantom smells.

Prevalence analysis

We assessed the prevalence of phantosmia in respondents with OD participating in our study (i.e., number of “yes” answers to the question about phantosmia), as well as the potential effect of seven factors on this frequency (age, gender, smoking status [smoker or non-smoker], OD type [partial/hyposmia or total/anosmia], OD onset speed [progressive or sudden], OD persistence [fluctuating or permanent] and OD duration). As the most prominent and informative effect in terms of dynamics of appearance of phantosmia was OD duration, we further explored the type of function that best fitted this relationship between phantosmia frequency and OD duration by performing a series of regression models (linear [increase or decrease?], quadratic [increase followed by decrease?], logarithmic [increase followed by plateau?]). This analysis was performed over a period of 1 to 60 weeks (i.e., 15 months) of OD duration.

Analysis of qualitative descriptions

We examined the descriptions of the phantom smells and how the seven factors cited above could modulate these descriptions.

First, we calculated the number of different keywords used by each participant to describe their phantom smell(s).

Second, in an attempt to summarize the verbal descriptions, we associated each keyword used by the participants to describe their phantom smells with one or two of the following overarching categories: “characteristic” (i.e., a characteristic of the odor, generally an adjective), “duration” (i.e., how long or how frequent the phantom smell lasts/is), “health” (i.e., health consequences of phantom smells), “location” (i.e., where the phantom smell occurs), “position” (i.e., the body position in which the phantom smell occurs) and “source” (i.e., the source of the odor). The “source” category was further divided into the following subcategories: “detergent” (i.e., toxic products), “fire” (i.e., something burning), “food” (i.e., a food item), “hydrocarbon” (i.e., fuel), “hygiene” (i.e., body hygiene), “tobacco” (i.e., tobacco use) and “others” (all remaining sources). The distribution of usage of each category shows that keywords pointing to the “source” of the phantom smell are the most frequent, followed by keywords describing a “characteristic” of the phantom smell (Fig. S2A). The 3 most common “source” subcategories are “fire”, “food” and “tobacco” (subcategory “others” aside; Fig. S2B). Therefore, we conducted analyses to determine whether these two categories (“source”, “characteristic”) and three subcategories (“fire”, “food”, “tobacco”) varied according to individual factors.

Third, we analyzed the keywords in detail by searching which keywords were more specifically used by particular groups of participants, using the tf-idf (term frequency-inverse document frequency) analysis detailed in the Supplementary Material.

Fourth, we focused on the qualitative content of the descriptions of phantosmia by following a Natural Language Processing approach. This approach allowed us to produce word clouds associated with phantosmia (Figs. S3 and S4), and to conduct a sentiment analysis of the valence (positive or negative) of the descriptions, using the R package sentimentr [ 25 ]. A sentiment analysis requires the mining of the text to be analyzed as well as an independent evaluation of the valence associated with the words used in the text, before combining these two components [ 26 ]. We first retrieved all the different keywords ( N  = 623 French keywords) used in the participants’ descriptions of phantom smells. Then, we conducted a new anonymous survey on a different panel of participants ( N  = 313 participants). This step was critical because no French lexicon based on the valence associated with odor descriptions was available. Each participant had to report its gender (women: 247 [78.9%] and men: 66 [21.1%]) and age (mean ± sd: 35.5 ± 13.7 years old) and to evaluate 30 keywords in a random order. Each keyword characterizing a phantom smell was evaluated on a valence scale ranging from − 10 (negative odor) to + 10 (positive odor). More details about the valence of the keywords can be found in the Supplementary Material.

Statistical analysis

The following analyses were performed in R.4.1.1 [ 27 ]. The statistical threshold for significance was set at α  = 0.01.

The factors influencing the prevalence of phantosmia were investigated using a logistic regression with the glm() function. The presence (1) or absence (0) of phantosmia was the response variable. The explanatory variables were: (i) age, (ii) gender (men or women), (iii) smoking status (smoker or non-smoker), (iv) OD type (partial [hyposmia] or total [anosmia]), (v) OD onset speed (progressive or sudden), (vi) OD persistence (fluctuating or permanent) and (vii) OD duration. The two numeric variables (age and OD duration) were scaled before the analyses to facilitate the interpretation of the estimates. We conducted backward elimination of non-significant variables until the minimal model containing only significant variables was reached.

Then we limited our analysis to the relationship between OD duration and phantosmia prevalence in order to determine more precisely its nature. Three different models (linear, quadratic and logarithmic) were fitted to the data and their associated Akaike Information Criteria (AIC) were recorded in order to determine which model had the lowest AIC (i.e., provided a better fit to our data).

The factors influencing the number of keywords used in describing phantosmia were investigated using a generalized linear model with a positive-Poisson distribution (as all descriptions had at least one keyword) with the vglm() function from the VGAM package [ 28 ]. The same seven explanatory variables as detailed above were used and non-significant variables were dropped one by one until the minimal model was reached.

The average sentiment score associated with the descriptions of phantosmia (resulting from the previously described sentiment analysis) was investigated using a linear model with the lm() function. Again, the same seven explanatory variables were fitted in the full model and the non-significant variables were removed one by one until the minimal model was reached.

To analyze the categories used to describe phantosmia, we focused on the two main categories, “source” and “characteristic” (because they are representing 90.8% of all categories) and ran a bivariate odds ratio model (i.e., a combination of two logistic regressions in a single model) with the function vglm(). The same model selection procedure as before was followed, starting with the same seven explanatory variables.

For the three subcategories that had enough occurrence to warrant further analysis (“fire”, “food” and “tobacco”), we ran three separate logistic regressions with the same model structure and selection as before.

Prevalence of phantosmia in COVID-19

Following the inclusion criteria (Fig. S1), 4691 respondents to our online questionnaire about ODs were retained and all reported OD. Among these participants, 2016 (43.0%) reported a phantosmia, while 2675 (57.0%) reported other types of OD. Based on a subjective analysis of the description of the reported phantosmia, we considered that 1723 (85.5%) truly described phantom smells (others confounded them with parosmia or their descriptions were too vague to be classified as a phantosmia). In our dataset, the prevalence of phantom smells in participants with COVID-related OD was thus 1723/4691 = 36.7%.

Factors modulating the prevalence of phantosmia

The prevalence of phantosmia was significantly affected by five of our explanatory variables (seven variables were considered: age, gender [man or woman], smoking status [smoker or non-smoker], OD type [partial/hyposmia or total/anosmia], OD onset speed [progressive or sudden], OD persistence [fluctuating or permanent] and OD duration), while two variables were non-significant (Fig.  1 ). Namely, the probability to report phantosmia was higher when OD was fluctuating rather than permanent ( β  = 0.75 ± 0.07, z  = 11.2, p  < 0.0001; OR [99% CI] 2.12 [1.86–2.42]), lasted longer ( β  = 0.44 ± 0.03, z  = 13.2, p  < 0.0001; OR [99% CI] 1.56 [1.46–1.67]), was partial rather than total ( β  = 0.39 ± 0.08, z  = 4.7, p  < 0.0001; OR [99% CI] 1.47 [1.25–1.73]) and appeared progressively rather than suddenly ( β  = 0.28 ± 0.09, z  = 3.1, p  < 0.01; OR [99% CI] 1.32 [1.11–1.58]). Furthermore, women were more likely to report phantosmia than men ( β  = 0.48 ± 0.09, z  = 5.65, p  < 0.0001; OR [99% CI] 1.62 [1.37–1.92]). The predicted probability to report phantosmia for a woman with a partial, fluctuating, long-lasting OD that appeared progressively was 92.9%, whereas the predicted probability to report phantosmia for a man with a total, permanent OD that appeared suddenly and did not last long was 15.4%.

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Results from the logistic regression on the probability to report phantosmia ( N  = 4691 participants). A Odds-ratios (OR) and 99% confidence intervals of the significant variables in the minimal model. Note that for continuous variables, OR are given for each standard deviation of the corresponding variable. Effects of B gender, C OD type, D OD onset speed, E OD persistence and F OD duration on the probability to report phantosmia. G Prevalence of phantosmia (in blue) as a function of OD duration. In F , circle size is proportional to the number of participants. In B , C , D and E , square size is proportional to the percent of participants reporting phantosmia for each corresponding category, respectively

Dynamics of the appearance of phantosmia in COVID-19

When we examined the relationship between OD duration and the prevalence of phantosmia in a window of about 15 months after OD onset, results showed that the logarithmic function had a better fit to the data (AIC = 5639) than the quadratic (AIC = 5727) or the linear (AIC = 5867) function (Fig.  2 ). The frequency of phantosmia strongly increases during the first 8 weeks of ODs approximately, before reaching a plateau.

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Relationship between the prevalence of phantosmia and the OD duration ( N  = 4691 participants). For visual clarity, OD duration has been binned per week prior to calculating the corresponding prevalence (the underlying model took into consideration the raw data). Black dots correspond to phantosmia prevalence for each week of OD duration and their size is proportional to the number of participants in this bin. The dotted red line corresponds to the linear relationship, the dashed green line corresponds to the quadratic relationship and the solid blue line [slightly bigger to underline its better fit] corresponds to the logarithmic relationship

Description of phantom smells in COVID-19

Number of descriptors.

The number of keywords used to describe phantosmia was 2.43 (sd: 1.37) on average, and was not affected by any of our explanatory variables at α  = 0.01: neither age, gender, smoking status nor any of the OD characteristics impacted the number of keywords used by participants to describe their phantosmia.

Keyword categories

When considering which categories of words participants used to describe their phantosmia, we found that most descriptions contained a reference to the source (51.9%; e.g., “smoke”, “cigarette”) or to a characteristic of the smell (41.2%; e.g., “burnt”, “unpleasant”) (Fig. S2A). Regarding how the use of these categories vary as a function of our seven factors of interest, we found that older participants used more frequently keywords referring to the source (in blue in Fig.  3 A, B; β  = 0.33 ± 0.06, z  = 5.2, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI]: 1.39 [1.23–1.57]) and less frequently keywords describing a characteristic (in red in Fig.  3 A, B; β  = −0.23 ± 0.05, z  = −4.5, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI] 0.80 [0.72–0.88]). Furthermore, participants with longer OD referred more frequently to a characteristic of their phantom smell (in red in Fig.  3 A, C; β  = 0.19 ± 0.05, z  = 3.7, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI] 1.21 [1.09–1.34]) and less frequently to its source (in blue in Fig.  3 A, C; β  = − 0.27 ± 0.06, z  = -4.7, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI] 0.76 [0.68–0.86]).

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Results from the bivariate odds ratio model ( N  = 1723 participants) on the probability to use a specific keyword category (either source or characteristic, excluding all other rarer categories, see “Methods”). A Odds-ratios (OR) and 99% confidence intervals of the significant variables in the minimal model. Effects of B age and C OD duration on propensity to use a keyword referring to the source (blue lines and shades) or to a characteristic (red lines and shades) of a phantom smell. Lines represent predicted probabilities of logistic regressions and shades represent their 99% confidence intervals

In a finer-grained analysis of the categories, we examined the most frequently cited subcategories of sources, namely “fire”, “food” and “tobacco” (Fig. S2B). None of the seven explanatory variables had an effect on the probability to make references to products or usages linked to “fire” or “food”. However, as for references to the “source” of the phantosmia, we found that older participants ( β  = 0.29 ± 0.06, z  = 4.6, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI] 1.34 [1.14–1.58]; Fig.  4 A, B) and participants with shorter OD duration ( β  = −0.25 ± 0.07, z  = − 3.7, p  < 0.001; OR [99% CI] 0.78 [0.65–0.92]; Fig.  4 A, E) made more references to “tobacco” to describe their phantom smells. In addition, non-smokers made more references to “tobacco” than smokers ( β  = 0.55 ± 0.18, z  = 3.1, p  < 0.01; OR [99% CI] 1.74 [1.12–2.79]; Fig.  4 A, C). Finally, participants with fluctuating OD made more references to “tobacco” than participants with permanent OD ( β  = 0.35 ± 0.13, z  = 2.8, p  < 0.01; OR [99% CI] 1.42 [1.03–1.98]; Fig.  4 A, D).

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Results from the logistic regression on the probability to refer to tobacco to describe phantosmia ( N  = 1723 participants). A Odds-ratios (OR) and 99% confidence intervals of the significant variables in the minimal model. Note that for continuous variables, OR are given for each standard deviation of the corresponding variable. Effects of B age, C smoking status, D OD persistence and E OD duration on the probability to refer to tobacco. In B , F , circle size is proportional to the number of participants. In C , D , square size is proportional to the percent of participants referring to tobacco for each corresponding category, respectively

Individual keywords

The word cloud illustrating the keywords used to describe phantosmia shows that negatively-connoted keywords are more frequent (Fig. S3), with the most frequent being “burnt” (319 occurrences, 7.63%), “smoke” (208 occurrences, 4.97%) and “cigarette” (205 occurrences, 4.90%). As age and OD duration were found to be prominent factors of variation in the previous analyses by categories, we intended to better characterize the keywords used by younger and older participants, as well as by participants with a shorter and longer OD duration. As an illustration, specific word clouds associated with young vs old and short OD vs long OD can be found in Fig. S4. The tf-idf (term frequency-inverse document frequency) analysis revealed that the 4 keywords most specific of younger participants were: “imagination”, “blood”, “fluctuating” and “stinging”. For older participants, the 4 most specific keywords were: “cigarette smoke”, “chemical”, “grilled bread” and “exhaust pipe”. For participants with shorter OD duration, the 5 most specific keywords were (the last 3 were ex-aequo): “sensation”, “blood”, “bleach”, “chlorine” and “vomit”. Finally, for participants with longer OD duration, the 4 most specific keywords were: “chemical”, “sewer”, “spicy” and “fuel”.

Sentiment analysis (valence of the descriptions)

In accordance with the nature of the keywords illustrated in the word cloud (Fig. S3), the sentiments associated with the descriptions of phantosmia (derived from the evaluation of each keyword’s valence by an independent group of participants, see Methods) were negative for 77.9% of the participants and neutral or positive for the other 22.1% (Fig.  5 ). The average sentiment score associated with the description of phantosmia was influenced by only one of our seven explanatory variables. Participants who had a fluctuating OD described their phantosmia slightly more negatively than participants with permanent OD ( β  = 0.05 ± 0.02, z  = 2.9, p  < 0.01; Fig. S5).

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Distribution of sentiments associated with the description of phantosmia (77.9% negative, 22.1% neutral or positive; N  = 1723 participants). Each line represents a participant and each dot represents a keyword used by the participant to describe his/her phantosmia (keywords used by the same participant are connected by thin grey lines). The bigger red (negative descriptions) and green (positive descriptions) dots represent the average sentiment score of each participant (participants are sorted based on this average score). The vertical blue line represents a neutral evaluation, while scores between − 1.0 and 0.0 represent negative descriptions and scores between 0.0 and + 1.0 represent positive descriptions. The sentiment value associated with each keyword was determined by an independent sample of participants on a scale from − 10 to + 10 (see “Methods”). The inset on the bottom right represents the density distribution of the average sentiment score of the participants (negative descriptions in red and positive descriptions in green)

COVID-19 has affected many people over the world, often with associated OD. This pandemic therefore represents a unique occasion to study a previously rare, but unfortunately increasing, qualitative OD: phantosmia. By analyzing the responses of more than 4500 individuals, we showed that the prevalence of phantosmia in COVID-19 patients with OD was very high (37% of 4691 people). This prevalence was influenced by the gender of the participants (more frequent in women), and the probability to report phantosmia differed as a function of OD characteristics (higher in fluctuating, long-lasting, partial ODs that progressively settled in). In particular, the prevalence of phantosmia ranged from 14% at the very beginning of the olfactory symptoms of COVID-19 to 56% after 6 months. The dynamics of the prevalence of phantosmia as a function of OD duration is best explained by a logarithmic relationship, with a strong increase at the beginning subsequently followed by a plateau.

The prevalence of phantosmia found in our study was in line with other studies using online questionnaires completed by participants of different countries: up to 34% of COVID-19 patients with OD [ 11 ] and 31% of patients with more varied etiologies of OD [ 29 ], for instance. Such a high percentage may result from a selection bias in our online questionnaire (among other limits of the approach, which are detailed in [ 5 ]). People who are the most affected by their ODs, including persons with phantosmia, may have been more likely to spontaneously participate to our study. However, this high prevalence may also stem from a known association of phantosmia with depression [ 30 ], the global prevalence of which has drastically increased during the pandemic [ 31 ]. The fact that women appeared to be more prone to phantom smells than men confirms some previous findings [ 8 , 16 ], but not all [ 10 ]. Age did not seem to be an influential factor in our study, while higher prevalence of phantosmia have been reported elsewhere in younger participants [ 8 , 16 ].

Of particular interest for the understanding of this olfactory phenomenon are the relationship between its occurrence and OD characteristics. First, evidence is pointing towards the necessity of having an at least partially functioning olfactory system to experience phantom smells. Indeed, we found that phantom smells were more frequently reported when OD appeared progressively than when it appeared suddenly. Phantom smells were more prevalent in hyposmic than in anosmic patients, and in fluctuating (vs. permanent) ODs. Second, as also showed in another group of COVID-19 participants [ 11 ], we found that the prevalence of phantosmia increases as the duration of the smell disorders associated with COVID-19 increases. While there were anecdotal reports of very brief episodes of phantosmia on the day preceding the total loss of smell in a few patients, in most cases phantosmia occurs in a delayed fashion, sometimes even after apparent recovery as this starts to be reported in case studies for other qualitative disorders [ 12 ]. This is consistent with Leopold [ 6 ]’s statement that olfactory distortions (including phantosmia) seem to occur either during olfactory receptor neuron death or regeneration. It is noteworthy that COVID-19 patients experiencing phantosmia often have an ability to smell (quantitatively) within the normal range (6 patients out of 9 with phantosmia were normosmic while the others were hyposmic in [ 9 ] and patients with phantosmia and/or parosmia did not differ in Sniffin’ Sticks test scores from patients without qualitative ODs in [ 32 ]).

Although studies are clearly needed to better characterize the pathophysiology of phantosmia, several hypotheses about peripheral and central mechanisms (which are not necessarily exclusive) of such a phenomenon have been formulated. At the peripheral level, lower number of olfactory neurons in the olfactory epithelium, higher number of immature neurons and disordered growth of olfactory axons have been found in patients with phantosmia [ 6 ]. Peripheral phantosmia is more often intermittent and worse on one side, relieved by nasal obstruction and anesthesia/resection of the olfactory epithelium [ 33 ]. Some reports in our study indicated that mechanical actions affecting the nasal cavity, such as yawning or blowing one’s nose, could trigger a phantom smell [ 5 ]. Central mechanisms may also occur, with manifestations that are constant, bilateral and not relieved by any of the options mentioned previously [ 33 ]. This is consistent with abnormally high brain activity in several frontal, insular and temporal regions [ 6 ], but also with some etiologies of phantosmia outside COVID-19 (psychiatric diseases, neurologic and neurodegenerative disorders). Consistent with the central hypothesis, the reports of several patients in our study were in favor of an effect of suggestion (like reading/talking about a smell, which would trigger the phantom smell) and of attention (phantosmia being more present during the peak periods of the epidemic waves, or disappearing during a limited period in which the patient has changed environment and directed her attention to a person to help). Representation of an odor can be elicited in people without pathological condition (imagined odor: [ 34 ]). Possible dysfunction or damage in the central olfactory pathways (olfactory bulb, olfactory tract and/or primary/secondary cortices) [ 33 ] could trigger such representations. It has been suggested that disinhibition of olfactory excitation could originate in these unwanted odor perceptions.

The shape of the prevalence curve (Fig.  2 ) suggests that there might be both peripheral and central phenomena in play. The prevalence of phantosmia reaches a plateau at a time (about 8 weeks) were neuronal regeneration in the olfactory epithelium is likely to take place: indeed, regeneration time of a healthy epithelium after axotomy (including olfactory bulb reinnervation) is about 30 days in mammals [ 35 , 36 ], but could be longer in a damaged epithelium. From this time on, the prevalence curve then illustrates what seems to be a rather installed phenomenon, since it does not decrease over 60 weeks after the beginning of the first COVID-19-related OD. This is particularly preoccupying first because, whereas parosmia seems to be a positive sign of recovery, phantosmia appears to be a poorer predictor of recovery in the most recent studies in COVID-19 patients [ 37 ] as well as in patients with varied etiologies [ 38 ] (but see [ 39 ] for contradictory findings that occurrence of parosmia or phantosmia has little prognostic value). And second, because to date there is not enough evidence in the literature to formulate treatment recommendations for phantosmia (or parosmia): only anecdotal evidence can be found for the local use of some medical therapies, such as antimigraines, antipsychotics or antiepileptic, with success rates depending on the patients’ etiology [ 33 ] (see also the recent study by [ 40 ] for an encouraging effect of intranasal sodium citrate in reducing phantosmia).

Additionally, with regards to the qualitative description of phantom smells, we found that 78% of the participants described their phantosmia as a negative experience, and this was more marked when the OD was fluctuating. Why phantom smells are more often unpleasant is an intriguing question, to which we can propose several possible answers. First, one of the main functions of olfaction, which has the most immediate consequences for survival, is the detection of threats. One can thus hypothesize that, (i) in the case of anarchic activation of olfactory neurons and (ii) assuming there is a central contribution to the generated olfactory percept, olfactory representations that are preferentially generated are those of odors that are the most relevant for survival (smoke, decay/fermentation…). The fact that the odor of a toxic substance, tobacco, was cited more often by non-smokers as a phantom smell is totally in line with this, given that the threatening value of tobacco products is likely to be stronger in this subgroup. Second, the dimensions of unexpectedness (phantom smells occurring in a non-predictable manner) and incongruency (phantom smells unrelated with the actual physical environment) may contribute significantly to the unpleasantness of this experience since they are significant determinants of the responses to smells [ 41 ]. Finally, fluctuation of the occurrence of phantom smells is likely to worsen the deleterious effect of unexpectedness, explaining why fluctuating OD is a significant predictor of negativity of phantosmia.

Another result of interest is that participants with OD of shorter duration and older participants tended to favor source names (i.e., descriptions of the olfactory experience). Conversely, participants with OD of longer duration and younger participants referred more to odor characteristics (i.e., more emotional descriptions of the olfactory experience). The fact that older participants used more words linked to the potential source of the phantom smell than to its characteristics contrasts with previous results [ 24 ], which found the opposite pattern when participants were asked to describe an actually perceived odorant. It could therefore be that semantic usage differs with age depending on whether participants have to describe a real or a mental construction of a smell. In addition, as elderly persons are typically less sensitive to emotions [ 23 ], it could be that older participants use less emotional descriptors and thus refer more to the source of the smell. The different usage of semantic categories with age may be linked to age-related changes in word representation and retrieval [ 42 ]. Regarding the effect of OD duration, it is possible that people with longer OD are more annoyed by the phantom phenomenon and use more adjectives to describe how they feel about it whereas people with shorter OD are still in the exploratory phase where they have a more analytical approach, trying to define what the odor is exactly. More broadly, it is worth mentioning that phantosmia is subjective and may be affected by the usage of a specific language. Future studies could therefore try to assess how phantom smells are described by respondents from different cultures and/or languages with different sizes of smell-related vocabularies [ 43 ].

Finally, we would like to stress the importance of studying phantosmia separately from parosmia. These qualitative ODs are often grouped together in the literature, but it has been suggested that this may be a mistake since they have different patterns of expression depending on demographic factors, etiologies and consequences on the quality of life [ 10 ]. Although adopting a questionnaire approach has limitations [ 5 ], it provides useful quantitative and qualitative elements to gain additional insights into previously rarely observed phenomena such as phantosmia. Future studies are needed to better understand this category of sensory hallucinations and its physiopathology. As well as parosmia, phantosmia has very deleterious consequences on the patients’ quality of life [ 44 ]. In spite of this, knowledge of these and other related ODs remains low amongst medical professionals [ 5 , 45 ] and the medical community is still lacking therapeutic options [ 29 ]. Hopefully, the number of studies on phantosmia, which already significantly increased in 2020 and 2021, will continue to grow in the future to better answer the needs of the many patients suffering from this long-term sequalae of COVID-19.

Conclusion on clinical relevance

By using a model of viral infection often associated with olfactory disorders, COVID-19, we pointed at the high frequency of the under-studied phenomenon of phantom smells in patients with post-infectious ODs. Indeed, using spontaneous reports of patients with an online questionnaire, we found that 37% of post-COVID patients with ODs experienced phantom smells. It is important to note that this figure is likely to overestimate the prevalence of this symptom on the ground, since people who suffer from their OD may be over-represented within the sample of volunteers who answered the online questionnaire. It may though be in line with the frequency observed by the clinicians because patients who decide to consult for their phantosmia are those who are adversely affected by their condition. The characteristics of phantom smells (i.e., which smells, (un)pleasantness of the smells) and their dynamics of occurrence after OD onset, as we report them in this article, are certainly well representative of the reality on the ground. To better inform patients, clinicians’ attention should be drawn to the factors associated with a higher probability to develop phantosmia, namely being a woman and displaying a fluctuating/long-lasting/progressively installed OD. Finally, it must be kept in mind by the medical and scientific community that research on the characteristics, mechanisms and remediation of phantosmia is dependent on patients’ verbal reports, since there is no objective way to measure sensory hallucinations.

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank all the people who helped disseminate the questionnaire. This work was carried out with the financial support of the IDEXLYON Project of the University of Lyon as part of the Future Investments Program (ANR-16-IDEX-0005, CORODORAT project to CF and MB).

Author contributions

Conceived and designed the study: MB, CF. Wrote the paper: CB, MB, CF. Data acquisition and curation: CB, KB, MB, CF. Performed analysis: CB, KB. Edited and approved the final manuscript: CB, KB, MB, CF.

Declarations

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Christophe Bousquet and Kamar Bouchoucha: co-first authors.

Moustafa Bensafi and Camille Ferdenzi: co-last authors.

Contributor Information

Moustafa Bensafi, Email: [email protected] .

Camille Ferdenzi, Email: [email protected] .

Health Digest

Health Digest

Phantom Smells Are A Serious Warning Sign For Your Health

Posted: November 6, 2023 | Last updated: November 6, 2023

Our sense of smell plays a crucial role in our perception of the world around us. But sometimes, we might smell things that aren't really there. This is called "phantosmia" or "olfactory hallucination." A report  published in 2017 in Continuum states that phantosmia is a type of olfactory disorder that can affect one or both sides of the nose, be constant or intermittent, and the perceived odors can be pleasant or unpleasant.

Olfactory hallucinations are more common than you might think, and a variety of factors can cause these phantom smells. It's essential to pay attention to these phantom smells, as they can be a powerful indicator of your overall well-being. They may indicate an underlying health concern requiring medical attention, such as neurological disorders, sinus problems, or psychological factors. Exploring the intricacies of your sense of smell and the triggers that lead to these uninvited fragrances can help you know when to consult a healthcare professional and how to cope with these intriguing and, at times, alarming experiences.

Read more: Things You Never Realized Were Making You Smell Bad

Causes And Contributors Of Phantom Smells

Olfactory hallucinations can be important indicators of underlying health issues. In some cases, phantom smells may result from sinus and respiratory issues, like sinusitis and nasal polyps , which can disrupt air and mucus flow in the nasal passages, leading to an altered perception of odors. It can follow a severe respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, according to Mayo Clinic . It can also be brought on by dental problems (per Cleveland Clinic ). 

The study in Continuum states that phantosmia is a common symptom of a head injury that has damaged the olfactory nerve or the olfactory cortex, which is responsible for processing smell. Additionally, phantosmia can be associated with various medical conditions, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants.

According to a 2022 report in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and medication can also influence the perception of phantom smells, as emotional and psychological distress may cause the brain to misinterpret sensory data, resulting in olfactory hallucinations. 

When To See A Doctor For Phantom Smells

Knowing when to reach out to a healthcare provider if you're experiencing phantom smells can help you identify any underlying health issues and manage these experiences effectively. 

If you experience persistent or recurring phantom smells lasting longer than three weeks, it's a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional. 

Another red flag that warrants medical consultation is the presence of accompanying symptoms. For instance, if you notice headaches, dizziness, memory issues, or changes in behavior, especially following a head injury , seek medical help right away. These additional symptoms could indicate a serious medical issue that requires immediate attention, such as a traumatic brain injury (per Mayo Clinic ).

Also, if the phantom smells affect your daily routine, work, or social life, or you suddenly experience severe phantom smells that cause anxiety or distress, it's best to seek medical attention. Ignoring this issue could have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Phantom Smells

A healthcare professional can help you figure out what's causing the problem and come up with a treatment plan that's right for you. Your appointment will likely involve a detailed discussion about your symptoms, including when they started, how often they occur, and if there are any other health issues you're dealing with. Just be as honest and open as possible to help your healthcare professional make an accurate diagnosis. 

Your doctor may conduct a physical exam to rule out any underlying health issues contributing to the symptoms. They might refer you to a specialist — like a neurologist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist — for a more in-depth evaluation of your olfactory hallucinations. They may also recommend specific diagnostic tests, including olfactory function tests to evaluate your sense of smell, a nasal endoscopy to look at your sinus passages, and imaging studies like MRI or CT scans to evaluate the structure of your brain. 

After assessment and tests, your healthcare provider will discuss a diagnosis or possible causes of your phantom smells. They will work with you to develop a treatment plan, which may involve medical interventions, lifestyle changes, or therapies to address the underlying cause and alleviate any phantom smells you are experiencing.

Read the original article on Health Digest .

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What Is Phantosmia?

  • When to Seek Medical Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Phantosmia is a condition that causes you to smell odors that are not there. It’s a type of olfactory hallucination. The perceived odors may be constant or come and go. 

Phantosmia has several possible causes, including inflamed sinuses, an upper respiratory infection , a head injury, a brain tumor, medication side effects, and Parkinson’s disease . It may affect your quality of life as well.

This article will provide an overview of phantosmia, including the causes and possible treatment options.

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Phantosmia vs. Parosmia

Phantosmia is sometimes confused with a more common olfactory hallucination known as parosmia . Individuals with parosmia have a distorted sense of smell. They smell odors that are there, but the scent is not correct. According to a systematic review, it is possible to have both phantosmia and parosmia simultaneously.  

Phantosmia Symptoms

Individuals with phantosmia smell unpleasant odors that are not present. Common scents with phantosmia include:

  • Burning rubber
  • Chemical smell
  • Spoiled food 
  • Rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide)
  • Strong perfume
  • Cigarette smoke

COVID-19 and Phantosmia

A small 2021 study found that phantosmia may be associated with having COVID-19 .

Phantosmia Causes

Phantosmia occurs when there is a problem with a person's olfactory system . Typically, odors enter the nose and dissolve into the nasal mucus. Once dissolved, they are absorbed through the nasal mucosa and stimulate the olfactory receptors. This process is how our brains can identify odors. 

Common Causes

The most common cause of phantosmia is sinonasal conditions, which account for up to 52% to 72% of all olfactory disorders. Research shows that severe infection or inflammation of the sinuses results in more severe olfactory problems. Mild sinonasal conditions tend to cause only mild olfactory issues.  

Common causes of phantosmia include:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever allergy)
  • Rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the nasal passages and sinus cavities)
  • Nasal polyps (growths in the nasal passages and sinuses)
  • Head trauma
  • Intracranial (skull) damage

Olfactory disorders like phantosmia may be an early sign of a neurodegenerative disease. Most individuals with Parkinson’s disease experience changes in their ability to smell and taste. Conditions that may cause phantosmia include:

  • Mild cognitive impairment (early stage of loss of memory and thinking ability)
  • Parkinson’s disease (progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder)
  • Parkinsonism (a group of neurological conditions that impact movement)
  • Alzheimer’s disease (progressive brain disorder that diminishes memory and thinking)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) (potentially disabling condition that impacts the central nervous system)

Medication side effects are responsible for about 12% of all olfactory disorders. Fortunately, these side effects are usually reversible once the medication is stopped. Medicines that may lead to phantosmia include:

  • Chemotherapy (cancer treatment)
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (lowers blood pressure)
  • Calcium channel blockers (used for hypertension and irregular heartbeats)
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Intranasal zinc (used to treat colds)
  • Antimicrobials (antibiotics, antifungals)
  • Antiarrhythmics (suppresses abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Antithyroid agents  (improve thyroid function)
  • Antidepressants (used to treat depression)
  • Anticonvulsants (used to prevent seizures)
  • Lipid-lowering medications (lowers cholesterol)

Less Common

Less common causes of phantosmia include:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Cocaine use 
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Renal failure (kidney failure)
  • Hepatic failure (loss of liver function)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Surgical complications from nasal surgery
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Lupus 
  • Migraine aura  
  • Psychiatric conditions including anorexia , major depressive disorder , bipolar disorder , and schizophrenia

When to See a Healthcare Provider

See a healthcare provider as soon as you suspect that you may be experiencing phantosmia. This condition may be caused by a serious medical problem, such as a brain tumor, and needs to be diagnosed and treated early. Your primary healthcare provider will likely refer you to a specialist such as an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT).

To diagnose phantosmia, your healthcare provider will take a detailed history and perform a physical exam. It may be helpful to take notes before your appointment. Write down how long you have been experiencing problems with smell and any other present symptoms. Tell your practitioner if you have recently experienced any trauma to the head or nose. 

Other screening tools include:

  • Three-item microencapsulated odor identification test
  • Anterior rhinoscopy (examination of nasal cavities)
  • Nasal endoscopy (procedure that uses a narrow tube with a camera and light attached to examine the inside of the nose and sinuses)
  • Computed tomography (CT) of the sinuses and nose
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain

Phantosmia Treatment

Treatment for phantosmia varies depending on the underlying cause. Possible treatment options include:

  • Observation : About one-third of individuals with phantosmia will experience symptom improvement over time.
  • Medications : Antipsychotics, antimigraine medicine, and antiseizure drugs can all be used to treat phantosmia.
  • Surgery : Olfactory mucosa excision surgery may relieve phantosmia while preserving olfactory function.
  • Other : Transcranial stimulation and topical cocaine application have been used to treat phantosmia.

Complications

Smell disorders like phantosmia often lead to taste disturbances. When food tastes bad or different, you are less likely to eat it. For this reason, possible complications of phantosmia include loss of appetite, unintended weight loss, malnutrition, and decreased quality of life.  

Phantosmia is a condition that causes you to smell odors that are not there. Phantosmia has several possible causes, including inflamed sinuses, upper respiratory infection, head injury, brain tumor, medication side effects, and Parkinson’s disease. Your healthcare provider may recommend a physical exam, a smell test, and imaging studies to diagnose phantosmia. Possible treatment options include observation, medications, and surgery. 

A Word From Verywell

Phantosmia is a relatively rare olfactory disorder that can significantly impact your quality of life. If you suspect you are smelling odors that are not there, talk with your healthcare provider. Treatments may be available to restore your smell and improve your quality of life. 

Phantosmia is not serious on its own but may be a sign of a serious health problem. See your healthcare provider if you suspect you are smelling odors that are not present. 

Phantosmia may go away on its own. Some individuals experience phantosmia for years before it resolves. 

Yes, anxiety can lead to issues with your sense of smell. If you suspect your anxiety contributes to physical symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider. 

Malaty J, Malaty IA. Smell and taste disorders in primary care . Am Fam Physician . 2013 Dec 15;88(12):852-9.

Pellegrino R, Mainland JD, Kelly CE, Parker JK, Hummel T. Prevalence and correlates of parosmia and phantosmia among smell disorders . Chem Senses . 2021 Jan 1;46:bjab046. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjab046

Keller A, Malaspina D. Hidden consequences of olfactory dysfunction: a patient report series . BMC Ear Nose Throat Disord . 2013 Jul 23;13(1):8. doi:10.1186/1472-6815-13-8

Leopold DA, Loehrl TA, Schwob JE. Long-term follow-up of surgically treated phantosmia .  Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg . 2002;128(6):642. doi:10.1001/archotol.128.6.642

İşlek A, Balcı MK. Phantosmia with COVID-19 related olfactory dysfunction: Report of nine case . Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg . 2021;1-3. doi:10.1007/s12070-021-02505-z

Jion YI, Grosberg BM, Evans RW. Phantosmia and Migraine With and Without Headache . Headache . 2016 Oct;56(9):1494-1502. doi:10.1111/head.12890

Saltagi MZ, Rabbani CC, Ting JY, Higgins TS. Management of long-lasting phantosmia: a systematic review . Int Forum Allergy Rhinol . 2018 Jul;8(7):790-796. doi:10.1002/alr.22108

Krusemark EA, Li W. From early sensory specialization to later perceptual generalization: dynamic temporal progression in perceiving individual threats . J Neurosci . 2013 Jan 9;33(2):587-94. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1379-12.2013

Ajmani GS, Suh HH, Pinto JM. Effects of Ambient Air Pollution Exposure on Olfaction: A Review . Environ Health Perspect . 2016 Nov;124(11):1683-1693. doi:10.1289/EHP136

Henkin RI, Potolicchio SJ, Levy LM. Olfactory Hallucinations without Clinical Motor Activity: A Comparison of Unirhinal with Birhinal Phantosmia . Brain Sci . 2013 Nov 15;3(4):1483-553. doi:10.3390/brainsci3041483

Kong X, Wang Y, Liu S, Lu Z, Wu H, Mao X, Cheng X, Gao J, Guan J, Yang Y, Li Y, Xing B, Ma W, Wang R. Dysphasia and phantosmia as first presentation of multifocal cerebral anaplastic astrocytomas: case report and review of the literatures . Medicine (Baltimore) . 2015 May;94(20):e877. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000000877

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.

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What to know about phantom smells (phantosmia)

phantom smells stress

Phantosmia is also called a phantom smell or an olfactory hallucination. The smells vary from person to person but are usually unpleasant, such as burnt toast, metallic, or chemical smells.

Problems with the nose, such as sinusitis , or conditions of the nervous system or brain, including migraine , stroke , or schizophrenia can cause phantosmia.

In this article, we look at the causes and symptoms of phantosmia, when to see a doctor, and how to differentiate phantosmia from related conditions, such as parosmia.

What is phantosmia?

Phantosmia

Phantosmia is a disorder linked to a person’s sense of smell. It happens when a person can smell something that is not there.

The smell may only appear on one side of the nose, or it may affect both nostrils.

Phantosmia is relatively uncommon. It makes up around 10 to 20 percent of disorders related to the sense of smell. In most cases, phantosmia is not a cause for concern and will go away on its own.

However, phantosmia can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, so people should always discuss this symptom with their doctor.

Some phantom smells are pleasant, but people with phantosmia more often describe unpleasant, foul, or disgusting odors. These may include:

  • burnt toast
  • burning rubber
  • cigarette smoke
  • a chemical or metallic smell
  • a spoiled or rotting smell
  • a stale or moldy smell

People are often unable to identify the specific smell, or it may be a smell that they have never encountered before.

Phantosmia can feel distressing and may get in the way of daily life. It can influence a person’s sense of taste, leading to a reduced appetite and weight loss.

Causes of phantosmia

People may experience phantom smells for many reasons. They may be related to the nose, when the condition is known as peripheral phantosmia, or to the brain, which is called central phantosmia.

Problems with the nose or nasal cavity are the most common causes of smell-related disorders such as phantosmia. These include:

Otherwise, phantom smells can arise because of problems with how the brain understands smells. These include:

When phantosmia is related to nose problems, people may notice a stronger smell in one nostril than the other. Saline rinses and anesthetic pads can often help reduce the smell.

When phantosmia is related to the brain or central nervous system , the smells are often more persistent. They can be noticeable during the day and night, and both nostrils rather than only one experience the same smell.

Is it really a phantom smell?

Phantosmia may be amplified by a change in deodrant

In some cases, people may believe they are noticing a phantom smell, when they may instead be noticing a real but unexpected smell.

Possible sources of unexpected smells include:

  • recent changes in deodorant or other hygiene products
  • new materials, products, or packaging
  • a new air-conditioning unit, heater, or air filter, which may still contain chemicals from the factory

Phantosmia vs. parosmia

Phantosmia is often confused with parosmia, which is a distorted sense of smell.

People with parosmia are smelling real-life smells, but they are distorted. For instance, the smell of flowers could trigger a smell of chemicals instead. Many people with parosmia also describe the distorted smells as unpleasant.

According to a 2013 review , phantosmia and parosmia often happen at the same time, and parosmia is more common than phantosmia.

Parosmia can be disturbing, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Severe parosmia may be debilitating. People with severe parosmia may struggle to deal with their symptoms, even temporarily.

To diagnose phantosmia, a doctor will first perform a physical exam of the person’s head and neck. They may ask about any other symptoms and perform tests to check the individual’s other senses.

A doctor may order an endoscopy or rhinoscopy to look into the nasal cavity and check for issues that could cause phantosmia. They may also request specific and comprehensive tests or refer people to a specialist.

Imaging tests, including CT scans , MRI scans , and EEG scans are sometimes used to check for abnormalities in the nasal cavity, brain, or nervous system.

Phantosmia saline solution

Treatment for phantosmia varies based on the underlying cause of the phantom smell.

People with chronic sinusitis or other long-lasting nasal inflammation can talk to a doctor about the best treatment options. Treating the underlying conditions should also address the phantom smell.

If symptoms persist for more than a few days, doctors may first recommend simple treatments, such as using a saline solution to rinse out the nasal passages. This may help dislodge anything that is trapped in the nasal passages and relieve the symptoms.

Certain drugs may help people with long-lasting phantosmia control their symptoms:

  • anesthetic to numb the nerve cells
  • drugs to narrow blood vessels in the nose
  • steroid creams or sprays

In some cases, doctors may turn to oral drugs or even surgery to treat phantosmia. They do not always recommend surgery, as it may only work in specific cases, and surgery carries its own set of risks.

Phantosmia is not usually a cause for concern, and it often clears up by itself.

It can also be a symptom of a more serious condition, so people experiencing phantom smells should see their doctor to check for underlying conditions or complications.

The best treatment will depend on the cause of phantosmia. In some instances, the symptoms clear up on their own with time or when the sinus or nasal sickness that caused them goes away. In other cases, phantosmia may be chronic or long-lasting.

Doctors will help a person identify the treatment that works best for them and may suggest other ways to minimize symptoms if possible.

Unusual Symptoms of Anxiety and What to do About Them

phantom smells stress

by Kimberly Blaker

Imagine, out of the blue you feel your brain spin 180 degrees at lightning speed as if fueled by an electrical current. This bizarre feeling isn't lightheadedness, dizziness, or anything you've ever experienced. You panic and wonder, 'Am I going crazy?' Or worse, 'Am I going to die?' You try to brush it off when suddenly, it happens again.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five Americans will experience an anxiety disorder in a given year. There are over 100 possible symptoms, many of which you'd never expect to be caused by anxiety. For that reason, when they occur, they often exacerbate anxiety because of the worry the symptoms cause.

The following are some of the more bizarre symptoms of anxiety, though most are not uncommon. If you experience symptoms that persist, seek medical attention to rule out a medical cause since all the symptoms of anxiety can also be associated with various medical conditions.

Indigestion Anxiety can cause temporary or even chronic indigestion. Burping, passing gas, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be symptoms of anxiety.

Phantom Ringing Tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears, can be a sign of stress or anxiety and can be experienced in several ways. According to anxietycentre.com, you may hear buzzing, ringing, humming, whizzing, chirping, roaring, swooshing, or any number of other sounds.

Burning Sensation This unusual anxiety symptom can be felt on your skin, lips, tongue, and even in your eyes. It can feel like a sunburn despite no sunburn being present, a prickling sensation, or even shooting sparks.

“There are over 100 possible symptoms, many of which you’d never expect to be caused by anxiety."

Heart Irregularities Skipped heartbeats, palpitations, or a racing heart can all be symptoms of anxiety. What's so troublesome is that it can be difficult to tell the difference between heart irregularities caused by anxiety versus a heart attack. When in doubt, seek medical treatment right away.

Numbness or Tingling These feelings can occur in your hands, feet, arms, legs, or face. It can also be felt as physical weakness.

Excessive Yawning During anxiety attacks, hyperventilation is a common response leading your body to feel it isn't getting enough oxygen. As a result, you might experience frequent yawning.

Phantom Smell Phantosmia, which is an olfactory hallucination, sometimes occurs with anxiety. It can cause you to smell something that isn't there, or rather, a neutral smell becomes unpleasant.

Brain Shivers Most often, this bizarre sensation is caused by antidepressants or withdrawal from them. However, sometimes it's associated with anxiety. Brain shivers can range from mild to severe and feel different from person-to-person, though they usually last only a brief time. “Brain shivers or zaps,” explains anxietycentre.com, “can feel like an electrical jolt or a shaking, vibration or tremor in the brain.”

Phantom Vibrations If you've ever felt your phone vibrate, only to discover it didn't, it could be caused by attachment anxiety. This is a very real phenomenon, according to a study reported by the University of Michigan in 2016.

Tremors Numerous types of tremors can be caused by anxiety. In addition to shaking or trembling, other typical forms, according to calmclinic.com, include arm or leg spasms, cramping, or longer or slower shaking than usual.

Derealization This is a feeling of not being in reality. Anxietybc.com says this can be experienced in several ways. You may feel disconnected from the world and people around you, sort of like being in a dream state. Your perception of space, time, and the size of things may be distorted. Everything might feel foggy or fuzzy or that you're very ill or going crazy.

Globus With this anxiety symptom, it feels like a lump in your throat, or you might have difficulty swallowing. Some people also feel a tightness in their throat.

"During periods of high stress, get plenty of rest. This will help keep anxiety under control and result in fewer or less severe symptoms."

Eye Problems Blurred vision, dilated pupils, watery eyes, and shapes that float in front of the eyes can all be a result of anxiety.

Skin Rashes Stress can cause hives, itching, and rashes. If you already have rosacea or psoriasis, it can be aggravated by anxiety and stress.

Shooting Pains These can be experienced in several areas of your body including your face, abdomen, arms, and chest during episodes of anxiety.

Freezing Hands and Feet Stress and anxiety can decrease your circulation. As a result, your hands and feet may feel icy.

Alleviating Anxiety Depending on whether you have an actual anxiety disorder or the severity of the symptoms, an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication may be the solution. But there are other things you can do as well to reduce anxiety and alleviate symptoms.

During periods of high stress, get plenty of rest. This will help keep anxiety under control and result in fewer or less severe symptoms.

Also, practice slow breathing. Alice Boyes Ph.D. in her article, "Breathing Techniques for Anxiety," says the key is to focus only on breathing out. While concentrating on slowly, steadily, and gently breathing out, allow the tension to flow out of your body and relaxation to flow in.

Mindfulness meditation is another useful technique for reducing anxiety according to a growing body of research. You can start by meditating for just a few minutes each day and gradually increase it to longer periods.

Get some exercise. It doesn't have to be a lengthy, hardcore workout. Even a 10-minute brisk walk can provide several hours of anxiety relief according to psychologists, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Finally, if your doctor has told you your symptoms are anxiety related, remind yourself of this when symptoms strike. Try not to worry about the symptoms, which only serves to exacerbate anxiety and cause the symptoms to persist.

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The Mystery Of Phantom Smells: Exploring Causes And Seeking Clarity

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Prepare to be intrigued, as we dive into the captivating world of phantom smells.

Imagine a scent that lingers in the air, yet no source can be found. With an air of mystery and curiosity, we will explore the causes and seek clarity on this perplexing phenomenon.

Through a technical and analytical lens, we will dissect the factors that contribute to phantom smells, distinguish between reality and imagination, and emphasize the crucial importance of seeking medical help.

Join me as we unravel the enigma of phantom smells and uncover the truth behind this sensory puzzle.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Phantom smells, also known as phantosmia or olfactory hallucination, can be caused by medical conditions such as migraines, nasal infections, and brain tumors.
  • The presence of old cigarette smoke lingering in the surroundings or a highly sensitive sense of smell can also lead to the perception of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none.
  • Distinguishing between real and imaginary smells can be done by checking the surroundings for smoking areas or ashtrays, seeking visual confirmation, and paying attention to the consistency of the smell.
  • Seeking medical help is important to rule out underlying medical conditions, obtain an accurate diagnosis, ensure appropriate treatment if necessary, and prevent potential complications.

What is it?

I’m not entirely sure what ‘it’ refers to in this case, but based on the pre-existing knowledge, it seems to be referring to the phenomenon of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none present.

This phenomenon, known as phantosmia or olfactory hallucination, has psychological implications and affects sensory perception. It can cause psychological distress and anxiety, interfering with daily activities and disrupting the quality of life.

The importance of addressing this issue promptly cannot be overstated. Seeking medical help is crucial to rule out any underlying medical conditions, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and ensure appropriate treatment if necessary.

It is also important to practice self-care and stress management techniques to minimize the impact of this phenomenon. While some individuals may attribute the experience to spiritual phenomena, it is essential to balance spiritual perspectives with medical advice and remain open-minded.

Causes and Factors

One possible cause for smelling cigarette smoke when there is none could be a medical condition called Phantosmia or olfactory hallucination. This condition is associated with various medical conditions, such as migraines, nasal infections, and brain tumors.

It can also be a result of old cigarette smoke lingering in the surroundings or a sensory hallucination. Factors that may influence the occurrence of sensory hallucinations include a history of migraines, a highly sensitive sense of smell, and the body’s response to stress.

Individual variations in susceptibility to these hallucinations can also play a role. It’s important to consider these factors when trying to understand the phenomenon of smelling cigarette smoke when there is no actual smoke present.

Distinguishing Real vs Imaginary

To determine if the smell of cigarette smoke is real or imaginary, it is important to check the surroundings for any smoking areas or ashtrays. If there are no indicators of smoking present, it suggests that the smell is likely imaginary.

Visual confirmation can also help in determining the reality of the smell. Additionally, paying attention to the consistency of the smell can provide insights. If the smell is sporadic or inconsistent, it may indicate an imaginary smell.

Seeking medical advice is crucial for confirmation and to rule out underlying medical conditions. Medical professionals can provide an accurate diagnosis and ensure appropriate treatment if necessary.

Managing olfactory hallucinations involves various techniques such as meditation, relaxation exercises, therapy sessions, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It is important to address this issue promptly to prevent potential complications and to maintain a good quality of life.

Importance of Medical Help

Obtaining medical help is essential to accurately diagnose and address any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the perception of cigarette smoke when there is none.

Seeking clarity through medical intervention is crucial in understanding the true cause of this olfactory hallucination.

Medical professionals possess the expertise to conduct a comprehensive assessment and rule out any potential health issues such as migraines, nasal infections, or brain tumors.

By seeking medical help, individuals can ensure appropriate treatment if necessary and prevent potential complications.

Moreover, obtaining a proper diagnosis can provide peace of mind and reassurance, alleviating psychological distress and anxiety.

It is important to prioritize one’s health and well-being by taking proactive steps to address the issue promptly.

By doing so, individuals can gain a clearer understanding of their condition and develop an effective plan for managing and reducing the occurrence of phantom smells.

Treatment Options and Prevalence

I can explore different treatment options for sensory hallucinations and their prevalence among individuals with migraines. Sensory hallucinations, such as smelling cigarette smoke when there is none, can be distressing and interfere with daily activities. While there is limited data on the exact prevalence of sensory hallucinations, they are more common among individuals with migraines. Treatment options for sensory hallucinations include meditation techniques, relaxation exercises, therapy sessions, and cognitive behavioral therapy. These techniques can help manage psychological distress and anxiety associated with sensory hallucinations. It is important to note that individual experiences may vary, and more research is needed for accurate statistics. By adopting stress reduction techniques, engaging in relaxation activities, and practicing self-care regularly, individuals can improve their overall well-being and potentially reduce the occurrence of sensory hallucinations.

Impact and Self-Care

Moving on from discussing the treatment options and prevalence of phantom smells, let’s now delve into the impact and self-care associated with this intriguing phenomenon.

The experience of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none can have a significant impact on an individual’s psychological well-being and daily life. It can cause distress, anxiety, and interfere with daily activities, ultimately disrupting one’s overall quality of life.

Coping strategies and self-care play a crucial role in managing this condition. It is important to adopt stress reduction techniques, engage in relaxation activities, and practice self-care regularly. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking support from loved ones or professionals if needed are also essential.

Additionally, some individuals may attribute their experience to spiritual phenomena, and exploring spiritual practices can provide guidance. However, it is crucial to balance spiritual perspectives with medical advice, encouraging open-mindedness and self-reflection.

Spiritual Explanations

One possible explanation for the experience of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none is to consider spiritual perspectives and beliefs.

Exploring alternative explanations can provide individuals with a broader understanding of their experiences.

Some people may attribute these phantom smells to spiritual phenomena, finding solace and guidance in their beliefs.

Seeking guidance and support from spiritual practices can offer comfort and a sense of meaning in the face of this mysterious phenomenon.

It is important, however, to balance spiritual perspectives with medical advice and seek professional help to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

By maintaining an open-mindedness and engaging in self-reflection, individuals can navigate the complexities of their experiences and find a sense of clarity and peace.

Engaging in spiritual practices can offer comfort and guidance for individuals who attribute the experience of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none to spiritual phenomena. However, it is important to consider other possible causes and not solely rely on spiritual explanations. Misdiagnosis may occur if one immediately assumes a spiritual origin for the phantom smell.

Causes of smelling cigarette smoke when there is none can include medical conditions such as phantosmia or olfactory hallucination, migraines, nasal infections, and brain tumors. These conditions can lead to sensory hallucinations, including the perception of cigarette smoke.

The psychological implications of this experience can be distressing and lead to anxiety. Coping strategies such as stress reduction techniques, relaxation activities, self-care, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals can help manage these psychological effects. It is crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent interference with daily activities and disruption of quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can phantosmia be a symptom of a serious medical condition.

Yes, phantosmia can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. It may be associated with migraines, nasal infections, brain tumors, or other underlying health issues. Seeking medical advice is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

Are there any specific medical tests that can help diagnose the cause of phantom smells?

Medical tests, such as MRI or CT scans, can help diagnose the cause of phantom smells. Diagnostic methods may also include blood tests, nasal endoscopy, and olfactory testing to rule out underlying medical conditions.

How common is phantosmia and is there a specific age group or demographic that is more prone to experiencing it?

The prevalence rates of phantosmia vary, and there doesn’t seem to be a specific age group or demographic that is more prone to experiencing it. Potential risk factors include a history of migraines and individual variations in susceptibility.

Can stress or anxiety worsen or trigger the occurrence of phantom smells?

Can stress or anxiety worsen or trigger phantom smells? Stress-related triggers can exacerbate phantosmia. Implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, therapy, and self-care can help reduce the occurrence. Anxiety disorders can also impact the frequency of phantosmia.

Are there any known natural remedies or alternative therapies that can help alleviate phantom smells?

I’m sorry, but I cannot provide the answer you’re looking for.

In conclusion, the enigma of phantom smells unravels before us, revealing a complex interplay of factors that ignite our olfactory senses. From medical conditions like Phantosmia to the remnants of old cigarette smoke, our noses are both cunning tricksters and loyal guides. Seeking clarity becomes paramount, as we navigate the realm of real versus imaginary scents.

Medical help must be sought, for within lies the key to accurate diagnosis and potential relief. Treatment options abound, from meditation to therapy, offering solace to those haunted by sensory hallucinations. As prevalence surges among migraine sufferers, we must not underestimate the psychological toll, urging us towards self-care and stress management.

Amidst it all, whispers of a spiritual explanation beckon, reminding us to explore the depths of our souls.

phantom smells stress

Meet Kalinda, the passionate and visionary Editor-in-Chief of OurMindAndBody.com . Kalinda is a beacon of light in the realm of holistic well-being, and her mission is to positively impact the lives of others by inspiring them to embrace a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.

With a deep-rooted love for meditation, yoga, and spirituality, Kalinda’s journey toward self-discovery and personal growth started at a young age. She found solace and strength in these practices, which not only helped her cope with the challenges of life but also provided her with a profound sense of purpose. Eager to share the transformative power of these ancient disciplines, Kalinda embarked on a path to spread awareness and understanding.

Stress Relief Toys For Enhanced Focus And Creativity

Natural Techniques For Stress Relief And Relaxation

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Meet Kalinda, the passionate and visionary Editor-in-Chief of OurMindAndBody.com . Kalinda is a beacon of light in the realm of holistic well-being, and her mission is to positively impact the lives of others by inspiring them to embrace a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. With a deep-rooted love for meditation, yoga, and spirituality, Kalinda's journey toward self-discovery and personal growth started at a young age. She found solace and strength in these practices, which not only helped her cope with the challenges of life but also provided her with a profound sense of purpose. Eager to share the transformative power of these ancient disciplines, Kalinda embarked on a path to spread awareness and understanding.

phantom smells stress

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Ultimate guide: relaxing music for a blissful sleep.

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Imagine drifting into a peaceful slumber, wrapped in a cocoon of tranquility. The soothing melodies of relaxing music gently guide you into a blissful sleep, where stress and worries fade away.

In this ultimate guide, I will unveil the power of music in promoting a restful night’s sleep. Discover the myriad benefits of incorporating relaxing tunes into your bedtime routine and explore the factors to consider when curating your own sleep-inducing playlist.

Get ready for a transformative journey towards a night of deep relaxation and rejuvenation.

Welcome to the ultimate guide: Relaxing Music for a Blissful Sleep.

  • Relaxing music reduces stress and anxiety, improves overall well-being, enhances sleep quality, and promotes relaxation.
  • Listening to relaxing music helps prepare the mind and body for sleep, brings a sense of calmness and tranquility, decreases stress levels, and allows worries to fade away.
  • Gentle rhythms and harmonies in relaxing music help regulate breathing, slow down heart rate, enhance sleep quality, facilitate easier falling asleep, and improve overall relaxation.
  • Factors to consider for a restful night’s sleep include personal preferences, the impact of different genres on sleep quality, finding the right balance, choosing classical music or modern instrumentals/ambient nature sounds, and personalizing a sleep-inducing playlist with meditative melodies or guided sleep meditations.

Benefits of Relaxing Music

Relaxing music before sleep has several benefits. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves overall well-being, enhances sleep quality, promotes relaxation, and increases melatonin production.

Listening to soothing melodies can help you unwind after a long day and prepare your mind and body for a blissful night’s sleep. It brings a sense of calmness and tranquility, allowing your stress levels to decrease and worries to fade away.

This sense of calmness can lead to a more restful and rejuvenating sleep, as your mind is no longer preoccupied with daily concerns. The gentle rhythms and harmonies of relaxing music also help regulate your breathing and heart rate, further enhancing your sleep quality.

So, why not create a bedtime routine that includes some peaceful tunes? Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Factors to Consider

When considering the factors that contribute to a restful night’s sleep, it is important to take into account personal preferences, such as tempo, genre, and song duration. The effectiveness of different genres can vary from person to person, as everyone has unique tastes and preferences. Some individuals may find classical masterpieces to be soothing and sleep-inducing, while others may prefer modern instrumentals or ambient nature sounds. The impact of tempo on sleep quality is also worth considering. Slower tempo music with a gentle rhythm can help slow down the heart rate and relax the body, making it easier to fall asleep. On the other hand, faster tempo music may be more energizing and not suitable for bedtime listening. It’s important to experiment and find the right balance that works for you.

Different Types of Music

I personally enjoy exploring different types of music for a better sleep experience. When curating a sleep-inducing playlist, it’s important to consider the different types of music that can help promote relaxation and enhance sleep quality.

Classical masterpieces are a popular choice, with their soothing melodies and gentle rhythms. Ambient nature sounds, such as rain or ocean waves, can create a calming atmosphere that lulls you into a peaceful slumber.

For those who prefer modern instrumentals, there are plenty of options that feature soft piano or guitar melodies. Meditative melodies, like those found in yoga or meditation music, can also be effective in helping you unwind before bed.

Lastly, guided sleep meditations combine calming music with soothing spoken words to guide you into a deep and restful sleep. By incorporating these different types of music into your sleep-inducing playlist, you can create the perfect ambiance for a blissful night’s sleep.

How long should I listen to relaxing music before bed to experience its benefits?

I recommend listening to relaxing music for at least 30 minutes before bed to experience its benefits. This duration allows your body and mind to unwind, reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, and improving sleep quality.

Can listening to relaxing music before sleep help with insomnia?

Listening to relaxing music before sleep can indeed help with insomnia. Scientific evidence suggests that it can improve sleep quality by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and increasing melatonin production. Give it a try and see the impact it has on your sleep!

Is it better to listen to music with lyrics or without lyrics for sleep?

For sleep, instrumentals are more effective than music with lyrics. Lyrics can stimulate the brain and distract from relaxation. Additionally, the genre of music can affect its sleep-inducing qualities, with classical and ambient music being particularly soothing.

Are there any specific instruments or sounds that are particularly effective for promoting sleep?

Some instruments and sounds that are particularly effective for promoting sleep include soft piano melodies, gentle guitar strums, calming nature sounds like rain or waves, and soothing white noise.

Can relaxing music for sleep be used as a form of therapy for individuals with sleep disorders?

Relaxing music as a sleep aid can be a valuable form of therapy for individuals with sleep disorders. It offers benefits such as improved sleep quality, reduced stress, and enhanced relaxation, promoting a more restful and rejuvenating sleep experience.

In conclusion, incorporating relaxing music into your bedtime routine can have a profound impact on your sleep quality and overall well-being. The benefits are undeniable, from reducing stress and anxiety to promoting relaxation and enhancing melatonin production. By carefully considering factors such as tempo, personal preferences, genre, instrumentation, and song duration, you can curate the perfect sleep-inducing playlist.

Whether you prefer classical masterpieces, ambient nature sounds, or modern instrumentals, there is a type of music that can help you drift off into a blissful sleep. So why not create the perfect sleep environment and experience the transformative power of music tonight?

Sweet dreams await.

phantom smells stress

Meet Kiran, the guiding light of wisdom behind the empowering content at OurMindAndBody.com . As a talented and compassionate writer, Kiran weaves words with grace and insight, sharing profound knowledge and practical advice to inspire positive transformations in the lives of readers.

With a background in psychology and a deep-rooted passion for well-being, Kiran brings a unique blend of expertise and empathy to her writing. Her journey into the realm of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga began as a personal quest for self-discovery and healing. Having experienced the profound benefits of these practices firsthand, Kiran is committed to empowering others to embark on their own journeys of self-exploration and growth.

Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Meditation Teacher And Starting A Successful Business

An image showcasing a serene meditation teacher leading a diverse group of students in a lush garden, surrounded by blooming flowers and gentle sunlight, symbolizing the journey of becoming a meditation teacher and establishing a thriving business

Welcome to the ultimate guide to becoming a meditation teacher and starting a successful business! If you’re passionate about meditation and want to share its transformative benefits with others, this guide is for you.

We’ll explore the qualifications and certifications needed to become a meditation teacher, as well as different types of meditation you can teach.

But that’s not all – we’ll also dive into the nitty-gritty of setting up your own meditation business, from finding the perfect location to marketing yourself effectively.

Get ready to embark on a journey of personal growth and professional success in the world of meditation teaching!

  • Acquire necessary qualifications and certifications from reputable training programs
  • Create a comfortable and peaceful environment for students, utilizing props like cushions and blankets
  • Incorporate variety in techniques and styles to cater to different preferences
  • Implement effective marketing strategies, such as creating a website or social media presence and offering introductory classes or free resources to attract potential clients

Becoming a Teacher

To become a meditation teacher, I need to acquire the necessary qualifications and certifications and follow practical tips for teaching meditation.

Firstly, I should consider getting certified through a reputable meditation teacher training program. This will provide me with the knowledge and skills needed to teach meditation effectively.

Additionally, I should practice meditation regularly to deepen my own understanding and experience.

When it comes to teaching, it’s important to create a comfortable and peaceful environment for students. Utilizing props such as cushions and blankets can enhance the meditation experience.

Moreover, incorporating variety in meditation techniques and styles can keep the classes engaging and cater to different preferences.

Lastly, I should consider setting up a meditation business by finding a suitable location, obtaining insurance coverage, and implementing marketing strategies to attract clients.

By following these practical tips, I can successfully become a meditation teacher and start my own business.

Qualifications and Certifications

Obtaining the necessary qualifications and certifications is crucial for anyone looking to pursue a career as a meditation teacher. These credentials not only add credibility to your practice but also equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively teach meditation.

There are various organizations and programs that offer certifications in meditation teaching, such as the International Meditation Teachers Association (IMTA) and the Meditation Association of Australia (MAA).

Additionally, it is beneficial to gain practical experience by attending workshops and retreats, as well as seeking mentorship from experienced meditation teachers.

Once you have obtained the necessary qualifications, it’s important to market yourself as a meditation teacher. Utilize social media platforms to reach a wider audience, offer free resources to attract potential clients, and seek testimonials and reviews to showcase your expertise.

Implementing these practical tips and marketing strategies will set you on the path to success as a meditation teacher and help you build a thriving business.

Types of Meditation

I find the different types of meditation fascinating and enjoy exploring them in my own practice.

Two types that I particularly find beneficial are insight meditation and breath awareness.

Insight meditation, also known as Vipassana, involves observing our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment, allowing us to gain insight into the nature of our minds. It helps cultivate mindfulness and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves.

On the other hand, breath awareness meditation focuses on the breath as the object of concentration. By paying attention to the breath, we learn to anchor our minds in the present moment and cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation.

Both types of meditation offer unique benefits and can be incorporated into a meditation teacher’s practice and teachings to provide a well-rounded experience for students.

How long does it typically take to become a certified meditation teacher?

Typically, it takes several months to a year to become a certified meditation teacher. The duration depends on the program you choose and your level of commitment. Costs vary, but expect to invest a few thousand dollars in training and certification.

Can I teach meditation without any formal qualifications or certifications?

Yes, you can teach meditation without formal qualifications or certifications. However, it is highly recommended to undergo meditation teacher training to gain a deeper understanding of the practice and to ensure you are equipped with the necessary skills to guide others effectively.

Are there any specific age requirements to become a meditation teacher?

There are no specific age requirements to become a meditation teacher. However, starting at a young age can have its benefits, such as developing a lifelong practice, connecting with younger students, and bringing fresh perspectives to the teaching.

What are some common challenges that meditation teachers face in their profession?

Balancing personal practice and teaching responsibilities can be a challenge for meditation teachers. It’s important to prioritize self-care and continue to deepen one’s own practice. Maintaining student engagement and motivation requires creativity, variety, and clear communication.

Is it necessary to have a personal meditation practice before becoming a meditation teacher?

Having a personal meditation practice is crucial before becoming a meditation teacher. It’s like having a strong foundation for a house – it gives you the stability, understanding, and firsthand experience to guide others effectively and authentically. Plus, it enhances your own well-being.

In conclusion, becoming a meditation teacher and starting a successful business is an exciting journey that requires dedication, knowledge, and passion.

By obtaining the necessary qualifications and certifications, exploring different types of meditation, and implementing effective marketing strategies, aspiring teachers can create a thriving meditation business.

Remember, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ This adage reminds us that success takes time and effort, but with perseverance and a genuine desire to help others, you can build a fulfilling career as a meditation teacher.

So, take the first step and embark on this transformative path today.

The Transformative Power Of Meditation In Prison

An image showcasing a dimly lit prison cell with a small window, where a serene and focused prisoner sits crossed-legged on a worn-out mat, surrounded by rays of soft golden light illuminating their tranquil face

Imagine a place where chaos and violence reign, where individuals are stripped of their freedom and forced into a constant battle for survival.

Now, picture a ray of light breaking through the darkness, offering hope, peace, and transformation.

This is the power of meditation in prison.

In this article, we will explore the incredible benefits of meditation programs in correctional facilities, the positive impact they have on prisoners’ mental health and rehabilitation, and the potential they hold for reducing recidivism rates.

Prepare to be inspired by the transformative possibilities that meditation can bring to the lives of those behind bars.

  • Meditation programs in prisons have the potential to greatly improve the mental health and well-being of prisoners, reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
  • By providing prisoners with tools for self-control and emotional regulation, meditation can help manage anger and aggression, enhancing impulse control and promoting healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Meditation in prisons can lead to a shift in perspective on life, encouraging gratitude, positivity, personal growth, and finding meaning and purpose.
  • The implementation of meditation programs in correctional facilities has shown positive impacts on prisoners’ lives, creating a peaceful and productive environment, reducing recidivism rates, and enhancing rehabilitation and reintegration success.

The Benefits of Meditation

I’ve learned about the numerous benefits of meditation in prison. Meditation has been found to significantly reduce stress among prisoners, providing them with a valuable tool for coping with the challenges of prison life. By practicing meditation, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of self-control, enabling them to better manage their emotions and impulses. This enhanced self-control not only benefits the individual’s personal well-being but also contributes to a more peaceful and productive prison environment.

In addition to reducing stress and improving self-control, meditation also offers other benefits to prisoners. It can help improve mental health by reducing anxiety levels and promoting emotional regulation. The practice of meditation empowers prisoners to develop a greater sense of inner calmness, helping them navigate the difficulties of prison life with resilience and composure.

Furthermore, meditation provides prisoners with increased perspective on life and a strengthened sense of purpose and meaning. It allows them to reflect on their actions and choices, leading to personal growth and a greater understanding of their place in the world. This newfound perspective can be transformative for individuals serving time in prison, offering them hope and motivation for positive change.

Overall, meditation has proven to be a powerful tool for improving the well-being of prisoners. Its benefits extend beyond the individual, positively impacting the prison environment as a whole. By promoting mental health, reducing stress, enhancing self-control, and fostering inner calmness, meditation offers prisoners a pathway to personal growth and transformation.

Coping with Prison Challenges

Reducing stress and anxiety levels, meditation provides prisoners with an effective coping mechanism to navigate the challenges of prison life. Through regular practice, inmates can experience significant improvements in their mental and emotional well-being, enabling them to better cope with the difficulties they face daily. The transformative power of meditation lies in its ability to promote personal growth and development, allowing individuals to cultivate inner resilience and find peace amidst chaos.

Here are four key benefits of meditation in helping prisoners cope with prison challenges:

Increased self-awareness: Meditation helps prisoners develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, empowering them to make more conscious choices and break negative patterns.

Enhanced emotional regulation: By practicing meditation, inmates learn to manage their anger, aggression, and impulsive reactions, fostering healthier emotional responses and reducing conflicts within the prison environment.

Improved focus and concentration: Meditation cultivates mental clarity and sharpens attention, enabling prisoners to stay present and focused, even in the midst of a challenging and distracting prison environment.

Strengthened coping mechanisms: By providing a calm and centered space for self-reflection, meditation equips prisoners with the tools to navigate stress and adversity, promoting personal growth and resilience.

Positive Impact on Prison Life

Enhancing the overall prison atmosphere, meditation programs in correctional facilities contribute to improved relationships between prisoners and staff. By providing a space for self-reflection and personal growth, meditation supports the rehabilitation process and helps prisoners develop a sense of inner strength and resilience.

Through regular practice, individuals learn to manage their emotions and make positive choices, fostering personal growth and self-improvement. This not only benefits the prisoners themselves but also has a positive impact on the overall prison environment.

As prisoners cultivate a greater sense of purpose and meaning through meditation, they become more motivated to engage in rehabilitation programs and work towards successful reintegration into society. By reducing violence and conflicts, meditation programs contribute to a safer and more productive prison environment, ultimately aiding in the rehabilitation and transformation of prisoners’ lives.

Implementing Meditation Programs

Implementing meditation programs in correctional facilities offers prisoners an opportunity to develop valuable tools for personal growth and rehabilitation, ultimately contributing to a safer and more productive prison environment.

By creating lasting change through meditation, prisoners can overcome the barriers that prevent them from leading fulfilling lives. These programs provide a structured and supportive environment for individuals to cultivate self-awareness, emotional regulation, and inner calmness.

Through regular practice, prisoners can learn to manage anger and aggression, enhance impulse control, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Meditation also enables prisoners to view life experiences from a new perspective, fostering gratitude, positivity, and personal transformation.

By finding meaning and purpose, prisoners are motivated to make positive choices and work towards their goals. The implementation of meditation programs in correctional facilities is crucial in empowering prisoners to break free from the cycle of reoffending and create a brighter future for themselves and society.

Reducing Recidivism Rates

By practicing mindfulness techniques, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact it can have on reducing recidivism rates among prisoners. Incorporating meditation programs in correctional facilities provides prisoners with the tools they need for personal growth and self-improvement.

Through regular meditation practice, individuals in prison are able to foster a sense of inner calmness and develop healthier coping mechanisms. This, in turn, enhances their ability to make positive choices and break the cycle of reoffending.

Meditation supports prisoners in finding their life’s purpose and cultivating a sense of meaning and fulfillment. It motivates them to reflect on their values and goals, inspiring hope and optimism for a better future.

By reducing recidivism rates, meditation programs not only benefit individual prisoners but also alleviate the burden on the criminal justice system.

Improving Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness in the correctional setting has allowed me to witness the positive impact it has on improving my mental health. Meditation has been a powerful tool in reducing anxiety and enhancing my emotional well-being. It has provided me with a sense of calmness and clarity amidst the challenges of prison life.

Through regular meditation practice, I have learned to observe my thoughts and emotions without judgment. This has helped me develop a greater self-awareness and acceptance of my own experiences. By focusing on the present moment, I have been able to let go of worries about the past or future, allowing me to experience a greater sense of peace and contentment.

Incorporating mindfulness into my daily routine has not only reduced my anxiety levels, but it has also improved my overall emotional well-being. It has allowed me to better regulate my emotions, respond to difficult situations with greater composure, and cultivate a more positive outlook on life.

Through the practice of meditation, I have discovered a powerful tool for improving my mental health and well-being. It has provided me with the skills and mindset necessary to navigate the challenges of prison life with greater ease and resilience. I am grateful for the opportunity to incorporate mindfulness into my daily routine and witness its transformative effects on my mental health.

Strengthening Sense of Purpose

Strengthening my sense of purpose has been a profound result of incorporating mindfulness into my daily routine. Through meditation, I have been able to deepen my understanding of myself and the world around me, finding meaning in the simplest of moments.

This practice has allowed me to embark on a journey of personal growth, discovering my true values and goals. By cultivating a sense of mindfulness, I have been able to align my actions with my purpose, leading to a greater sense of fulfillment and motivation for positive change.

Meditation has inspired me to reflect on my life’s purpose and has given me the courage to pursue it wholeheartedly. It has become a guiding force, inspiring hope and optimism in my everyday life.

How does meditation in prison contribute to reducing violence and conflicts among prisoners?

Meditation in prison contributes to reducing violence and conflicts among prisoners by reducing aggression and promoting inner peace. It helps prisoners manage anger, cultivate inner calmness, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

What are some specific ways that meditation programs support prisoners’ mental and emotional well-being?

Meditation programs in prison provide valuable support for prisoners’ mental and emotional well-being. By serving as a tool for rehabilitation, meditation enhances overall well-being and contributes to prisoners’ overall sense of self and personal growth.

How does meditation help prisoners break the cycle of reoffending and reduce recidivism rates?

Meditation helps prisoners break the cycle of reoffending and reduces recidivism rates by promoting personal growth and self-improvement. It enhances prisoners’ ability to make positive choices and provides a supportive practice for reintegration into society, reducing the burden on the criminal justice system. Rehabilitation through meditation is effective in reducing recidivism.

Can you provide examples of how meditation enhances prisoners’ ability to make positive choices and supports their reintegration into society?

Meditation enhances prisoners’ ability to make positive choices by promoting self-awareness, impulse control, and healthier emotional responses. It supports their reintegration into society by cultivating inner calmness, fostering personal growth, and inspiring hope and optimism.

What are some potential challenges or obstacles in implementing meditation programs in correctional facilities, and how can they be overcome?

Some potential challenges in implementing meditation programs in correctional facilities include resistance from staff, limited resources, and skepticism from prisoners. Building support through education, training, and evidence-based research can help overcome these obstacles.

In conclusion, the transformative power of meditation in prison is an undeniable force for change. It is a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, offering prisoners a path towards self-improvement and redemption.

Through the practice of meditation, inmates are able to find solace and peace within themselves, even in the harshest of environments. The juxtaposition of the prison walls and the serenity of meditation creates a profound emotional impact, highlighting the immense potential for personal growth and transformation.

It is through continued support and recognition of the benefits of meditation programs that we can truly make a difference in the lives of those who have been incarcerated.

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IMAGES

  1. Symptoms, Signs and Consequences of Phantosmia

    phantom smells stress

  2. Phantom Smells: Get Facts On Causes And Symptoms

    phantom smells stress

  3. Anxiety And Phantom, Odd Smells

    phantom smells stress

  4. Phantom smells: How common are they and who experiences them?

    phantom smells stress

  5. What You Should Know About Phantom Smells

    phantom smells stress

  6. Phantosmia: Causes and symptoms of phantom smells

    phantom smells stress

VIDEO

  1. CANCER LANCER

  2. Cool stress reliever

  3. #funnyvideo #music #phantommix #beats #producer

  4. Justice

  5. something SMELLS

  6. DJI Phantom Vision

COMMENTS

  1. Anxiety And Phantom, Odd Smells

    Written by Jim Folk Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated September 12, 2022 Phantom Smells, such as odd, strong, acrid, metallic, blood-like, sour, ammonia-like, acidy, and repugnant smells, to name a few, are common anxiety disorder symptoms. Many anxious people report having phantom and odd smells as an anxiety symptom.

  2. Phantosmia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

    Stephen Welstead/Getty Images Phantosmia is a disorder linked to a person's sense of smell. It happens when a person can smell something that is not there. The smell may only appear on one...

  3. Phantosmia (Olfactory Hallucinations): Causes & Treatment

    Health Library / Diseases & Conditions / Phantosmia (Olfactory Hallucinations) Phantosmia (Olfactory Hallucinations) Phantosmia is a condition that causes you to detect smells that aren't actually in your environment. It can happen in one nostril or both — and the odors may be foul or pleasant.

  4. Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?

    An olfactory hallucination (phantosmia) makes you detect smells that aren't really there in your environment. The odors you notice in phantosmia are different from person to person and may be foul or pleasant. You may notice the smells in one or both nostrils. The phantom smell may seem to always be there or it may come and go.

  5. Phantom smells may be a sign of trouble

    By Linda Carroll and Jane Weaver Problems with our sense of smell, including phantom odors or a loss of smell, can be a warning sign of serious illness. Since the beginning of the pandemic,...

  6. Does it smell weird? Don't panic, it's probably a "phantom smell"

    Health problems. In some cases, a phantom smell can be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as a brain injury, sinus infection, or neurological disease. In other cases, phantosmia can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety. It has also been associated with persistent dry mouth sensation. 2.

  7. Phantosmia

    Phantosmia (phantom smell), also called an olfactory hallucination or a phantom odor, [1] is smelling an odor that is not actually there. This is intrinsically suspicious as the formal evaluation and detection of relatively low levels of odour particles is itself a very tricky task in air epistemology. It can occur in one nostril or both. [2]

  8. Can Anxiety Cause Phantom Smells?

    Anxiety and chronic stress cause various biochemical changes in the body that may give rise to phantom smells. The stress response may cause hyper-stimulation of the smell and taste receptors that may lead to odd tastes and smells. This is an evolutionary response to enable the person to perceive a potential threat more effectively.

  9. What to Know about Phatom Smells

    As such, phantom smells can actually result in depression, negative mood, and difficulties socializing. Furthermore, Alan Hirsch, MD, Neurological Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, believes "phantom smells may indicate a medical or psychological condition.". A few psychological illnesses that could cause ...

  10. Phantosmia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

    Phantosmia is a condition wherein you perceive smells that are not really there. Doctors also use the terms "olfactory hallucination" and "phantom smell" to describe the condition. It can result from several conditions, including head injuries, epilepsy, and COVID-19, among others. Researchers believe that up to 25% of people with a ...

  11. Phantosmia: Smoke, Other Common Smells, Causes, Treatment

    Common causes While the symptoms of phantosmia can be alarming, they're usually due to a problem in your mouth or nose rather than your brain. In fact, 52 to 72 percent of conditions affecting...

  12. Phantosmia: Is Your Nose Playing Tricks on You?

    Brain & Nervous System Reference What Is Phantosmia? If you're constantly smelling something nobody around you seems to be able to smell, you may have a condition called phantosmia. It's a term...

  13. Do You Smell That? Phantom Smells and Why We Have Them

    Phantosmia, the fancy word for phantom smells, is a sense of smell disorder. It occurs when a person smells something that isn't there. The odor may only affect one side of the nose or both nostrils. This is a relatively uncommon condition and makes up to 20% of smell-related disorders. Most cases lack a need for concern and will dissipate on ...

  14. Phantom smells may be more common than thought, study finds

    Most phantom smells are bad — rotten eggs, garbage or spoiled food are commonly reported. The causes of phantom odor perception are not well understood, but women seem to be affected twice as ...

  15. Phantosmia

    Phantosmia is a qualitative olfactory disorder wherein an odorant is perceived in the absence of an identifiable stimulus. Although phantosmia is most often idiopathic, it may be associated with nasal mucosal abnormalities, migraines, seizures, and neurocognitive or mood disorders.

  16. Phantom smells: a prevalent COVID-19 symptom that progressively sets in

    The relationship between OD duration and phantosmia followed a logarithmic function, with a prevalence of phantosmia increasing strongly during the first 2 months of the disease before reaching a plateau and no decrease over the 15 months considered in this study.

  17. Phantom Smells Are A Serious Warning Sign For Your Health

    According to a 2022 report in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and medication can also influence the perception of phantom smells, as emotional ...

  18. Phantosmia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

    Phantosmia is a condition that causes you to smell odors that are not there. It's a type of olfactory hallucination. The perceived odors may be constant or come and go. Phantosmia has several possible causes, including inflamed sinuses, an upper respiratory infection, a head injury, a brain tumor, medication side effects, and Parkinson's ...

  19. What to know about phantom smells (phantosmia)

    Phantosmia is also called a phantom smell or an olfactory hallucination. The smells vary from person to person but are usually unpleasant, such as burnt toast, metallic, or chemical smells. Problems with the nose, such as sinusitis, or conditions of the nervous system or brain, including migraine, stroke, or schizophrenia can cause phantosmia.

  20. Unusual Symptoms of Anxiety and What to do About Them

    Indigestion Anxiety can cause temporary or even chronic indigestion. Burping, passing gas, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be symptoms of anxiety. Phantom Ringing Tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears, can be a sign of stress or anxiety and can be experienced in several ways.

  21. The Mystery Of Phantom Smells: Exploring Causes And Seeking Clarity

    Can stress or anxiety worsen or trigger phantom smells? Stress-related triggers can exacerbate phantosmia. Implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, therapy, and self-care can help reduce the occurrence. Anxiety disorders can also impact the frequency of phantosmia.

  22. My personal stress alarm (phantom smells)

    This theory lends itself to the article from anxietycentre.com, which reported that many people suffering from anxiety also experienced phantom smells, and the root cause is related to the stress responses that affect our physiological functions. (Folk, 2022) The symptoms reported by anxietycentre.com are more closely aligned with mine, but I ...

  23. Phantom smells stress

    A 59-year-old female asked: Smelling cigarettes all the time, none around! #nqlu i am freaking out because i'm having "phantom" smells... mainly cigarettes. i keep smelling them, but no one smokes here. i kept thinking my husband snuck one, but he has not, and he isn't lying to me Dr. Heidi Fowler answered Psychiatry 27 years experience