Over six percent of us experience "phantom odor perception"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/17/over-six-percent-of-us-experie.html




“Over 6 percent?”

Is it 7 percent, or is it slightly less? Now I HAVE to read the article. @frauenfelder and his clickbait headlines.


Six of one, half-a-dozen of another.

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I experience this phenomenon every time I see Trump on tv. I smell bull shit.


Do you smell fudge when there is no fudge?


100 percent is also over 6 percent.


It’s the Trumpster fire.

I’ve always thought mine smelled more like diesel exhaust, but I guess it could be described as burning paper, too. They started a year or two ago.

For me it lasts no more than a couple of minutes, and usually under 30 seconds.

My neurologist believes that these episodes are atypical migraines; since my “normal” migraines are extremely debilitating, when I smell this I tend to take a deep, appreciative breath and think “Aaaah, the delightful smell of not having a migraine”.


I always image bad breath when I see someone on TV.


those that think they smelt it are the ones we think dealt it.


It’s chemtrails.

Around the sixteenth of next month, at 5:43PM, you’ll turn into a gender ambiguous frog.


I’ve been smelling cigarette smoke for about 12 years.

It started with a terrible sinus infection, so bad that the ENT said she couldn’t scope me without putting me under. However, she also wanted to rule out a brain tumor, and they did a scan. After several months of trying to figure it out, my mother said “oh, yeah, I’ve had that since I was pregnant with your brother.” Only hers is a burnt hair/plastic smell.

We’ve basically decided that it’s some form of swelling that presses on a nerve in my nasal cavity somewhere that activates that particular scent receptor. It only happens when I’m having sinus problems. What’s weird is how persistently impossible the smell is … like in the swimming pool, at sea on a boat, in the shower. I know it’s a hallucination … but it’s a real sensation at the same time.

I read a lot on forums about it at the time and saw that some folks get awesome smells like lemongrass, petrichor or baking bread.


This might warrant a trip to the ENT, @frauenfelder. As some BBers here know, I’ve dealt with nasal polyps for over 10 years now, and at times when the issue is least problematic, the burnt paper smell (like very hot but yet uncharred book paper) is what I’d experience.
At it’s worst, it’s hard to describe, as the olfactory senses are blocked. Something like old, wet dishrags, but more often just nothing.


I smell blossoms and the trees are bare.

This is the thing most people don’t understand about migraines. Migraines are more than just a bad headache, they are a cluster of symptoms and not all need to be present to qualify, including the headache. Mild hallucinations are one of the symptoms, and a single phase of a migraine can last several days. Hence why if you tell me to pop a couple of Advil, I will have to wait until it’s over, before I come at you with an axe.

OTOH, at least they aren’t cluster headaches.


Right, exactly!   When you go to a physician, they have a long list of symptoms, and if you check off a certain number of them you are diagnosed with migraine.

Visual and auditory hallucinations are on the list, and are typically reported by patients with aura. My neurologist (who specialises in migraine) says phantosmia (olfactory hallucinations) should be on the list too.

Yeah, there’s always some poor wretch who has it worse than we do. I myself get all the symptoms on the migraine list except uncontrollable vomiting, and that’s a very big deal - it means I can take pills during an attack.


I get most of them too – no aura, but audio hallucinations, no vomiting unless I try to push through the nausea instead of swallowing some Gravol and passing out. And I get the 72 hour attack phase. I had to explain to my boss that actually, no, three days isn’t that abnormal for even just one stage, let alone a full run.

I can never be sure if I am hallucinating smells or just more sensitive (which can aggravate the nausea), but my tactile sensitivity ramps up to 11, so it could be either way.


And if you check off olfactory hallucinations they’re likely to say “Temporal lobe epilepsy”. Or so I hear from a friend. What is that appalling smell?!

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Glad to see it’s not just me. For many years, this was a really reliable way of knowing that I was going to get a migraine: I’d smell burning garbage, gasoline, or tobacco. I’ve heard of other people who have auras with migraines (colors, lights), but never phantom odors.

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