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What is phantosmia?
Phantosmia is a condition that causes you to smell odors that aren’t actually present. When this happens, it’s sometimes called an olfactory hallucination.
The types of odors people smell vary from person to person. Some might notice the odor in just one nostril, while others have it in both. The odor may come and go, or it may be constant.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes phantosmia and how to treat it.
While people with phantosmia can notice a range of odors, there are a few odors that seem to be most common. These include:
- cigarette smoke
- burning rubber
- chemicals, such as ammonia
- something spoiled or rotten
While the most common smells associated with phantosmia tend to be undesirable, some people do report smelling sweet or pleasant odors.
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 your sense of smell are related to a sinus issue.
Nose-related causes include:
- common colds
- sinus infections
- irritation from smoking or poor air quality
- nasal polyps
Other common causes of phantosmia include:
- upper respiratory infections
- dental problems
- exposure to neurotoxins (substances that are toxic to the nervous system, such as lead or mercury)
- radiation treatment for throat or brain cancer
There are many less common causes of phantosmia. Because these usually involve neurological disorders and other conditions that require immediate treatment, it’s important to contact your doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have any of the following:
In some cases, odors coming from unusual sources can make it seem like you have phantosmia. These include odors from:
- dirty air vents in your home or office
- new laundry detergent
- new bedding, especially a new mattress
- new cosmetics, body wash, shampoo, or other personal care products
When you smell an unusual odor, try to note any patterns. For example, if you only notice it when you wake up in the middle of the night, it could be coming from your mattress. Keeping a log can also help you explain your symptoms to your doctor.
Diagnosing phantosmia usually involves finding out the underlying cause. Your doctor will likely start with a physical exam that focuses on your nose, ears, head, and neck. You’ll be asked about the types of odors you smell, whether you smell them in one or both nostrils, and how long the odors tend to stick around.
If your doctor suspects a nose-related cause, they may do an endoscopy, which involves using a small camera called an endoscope to get a better look at the inside of your nasal cavity.
If these exams don’t point to a specific cause, you may need an MRI scan or CT scan to rule out any neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor might also suggest an electroencephalogram to measure the electrical activity in your brain.
Phantosmia due to a cold, sinus infection, or respiratory infection should go away on its own once the illness clears up.
Treating neurological causes of phantosmia are more complicated, and there are many options, depending on the type of condition and its location (for example, in the case of a tumor or neuroblastoma). Your doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan that works best for your condition and lifestyle.
Regardless of the underlying cause of phantosmia, there are a few things you can do for relief. These include:
- rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution (for example, with a neti pot)
- using oxymetazoline spray to reduce nasal congestion
- using an anesthetic spray to numb your olfactory nerve cells
While phantosmia is often due to sinus problems, it can also be a symptom of a more serious neurological condition. If you notice symptoms for more than a day or two, contact your doctor to rule out any underlying causes that need treatment. They can also suggest ways to minimize your symptoms so that phantosmia doesn’t get in the way of your everyday life.
Smelling an odor that might not be real? It could be phantosmia. Learn more about this condition, including when it could indicate something serious.
When i smoke weed and exhale it burns my nose. why?
ok for the people who are so against smoking pot. wtf why did u answer my ? then. you obviously have not been completely educated about the plant and its uses. I put this under ” alternative medicine” because thats what it is to me. PRESCRIBED. but hey i cant say i dont like the efeect it gives me. why exactly if its so bad is it being legalized in some places. There is a pot shop opening on main st in my town and many more within driving distances. Obviously there are people who still can not open their eyes to different things.
because you’re inhaling burning bits of tar and crystalline THC. It burns every part of your body that it’s exposed to to some degree. Exhaling through your nose will get you slightly higher slightly quicker, and will give you nasal problems. It’s not really worth it unless it’s cooled by a water bong or bubbler. And as for consuming it any other way, you can’t just eat straight marijuana, it takes too long and you don’t notice it. Learn to make brownies, I don’t think it’s legal for me to give you advice on how to make them.
And as for it’s legality, it won’t be fully legal any time soon. There’s too much coruption behind the war on drugs and marijuana’s situation specifically. We will never know why it’s not legal, we can only hope it will change some day
Because it is destructive to your mucus membranes to smoke any thing including weed, tobacco, cloves, anything. That is why we avoid smoke inhalation in fires. It is destructive to our bodies. Your body is telling you something when you nose burns, or your cough.
I am not advocating the use of marijuana in any way, but any thing effects your body by smoking will give you the same effect if consumed another way. Like as in tobacco users will switch to chew, or nicotine gum.
I think mainly because your not used to blowing(lol) it out your nose. If you remember when you first started smokin, you problay coughed a bit more right. I dont know, but i do know if you roll a blunt, shot gun it in through your nose, you get a rush and high as s hit
have you just started soking weed?
if so this is probably why, just roll a couple more bad boys and smoke away, your nose wont burn for much longer!
When i smoke weed and exhale it burns my nose…why?