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Hi, I perceive an annoying "smoke smell" when there is no smoke around! It started about 10 months ago but it passed quicly, so i thought nothing of it. Now, it is more and more frequent, nearly daily. What should I do? Don't know if it is an ENT problem or a brain problem. In any case, it is slowing driving me MAD! Please help. Thanks

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replied August 22nd, 2010
Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Answer A15565
Hi, welcome to the ehealth forum and I am glad to help you.
You seem concerned by an annoying smoke cell when there is no smoke around.
You might be suffering from olfactory hallucinations (Phantosmia) as ascertained from your mentioned complaints. If you feel a certain smell that doesn’t really exist that is called olfactory hallucination. Olfactory hallucination can be a result of nose disorders (inflammation), neurological disorders (brain tumors, epilepsy esp. temporal lobe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis…) or certain psychiatric issues.One of the most common causes for olfactory hallucinations is brain damage. The olfactory system is a physical sensory system, just like the systems used to allow people to perceive touch and vision, and damage to that system can interfere with its function. People with tumors or severe head injuries can start to smell phantom odors as a result of confused neurons along the sensory system's pathways.
Phantosmia can also be a symptom of epilepsy, caused by temporal lobe seizures which trigger the brain into thinking that a smell is present. Some people with migraines have also described olfactory hallucinations during the aura phase before a migraine sets in. Other causes of olfactory hallucinations include exposure to certain toxins, some types of drugs, and physical damage to the olfactory system, such as an infection.
Some psychiatric conditions have also been linked with phantom odors. People with severe psychiatric disorders may have profound chemical imbalances in their brains which trigger the chemosensory system which allows people to perceive smell, creating a hallucinatory experience.
If there isn’t any ENT or any neurological disorder the only possibility left is a psychiatric disorder.
You should consult an ENT and neurologist about your problem.
Hope this helps. Take care.
Note: This post is not to emphasise final diagnosis as the same cannot be made online and is aimed just to provide medical information and no treatment suggested above be taken without face to face consultation with health care professional.

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