Nose / Olfactory Hallucinations or Phantom smell.

Nose / Olfactory Hallucinations or Phantom smell.

Want to know more about olfactory hallucinations or Phantom smell?

Had you ever perceived a terrible foul smell that no one else seem to detect? Initially you might suspect your environment but the smell persist even when you change the environment.

Whenever a bad smell that you can’t pin to an external source fills your nose, you should consider looking inwards. The smell might be coming from inside your nose. You might be experiencing olfactory hallucinations.

This could feel crazy but the good news is that there is a medical explanation for this. It is known as phantom smells or olfactory hallucination.

This experience varies from person to person and the odour could be mild or harsh, and could affect one or both nose. The smell might be brief or could last for weeks.


Justlike the symptoms, the cuases of phantom smell could also vary. Some of the causes include:


Nasal polyps

nose hallucination

Nasal polyps are one of the cause of olfactory hallucination. They are small inflammatory noncancerous growths on the wall of the sinuses or nasal cavity.

They usually form as a reaction to asthma, sinus infection or other allergies.

Because of their small size, they are not usually detected early except when large polyps that can block the nose develop.

They can cause breathing difficulty, block the sense of smell, affect the voice, cause facial pains and headache, snoring and upper teeth pain, runny nose and post nasal drip.

Fluid that accumulate inside the polyps are the cause of the Phantom smell.

Nasal polyps can be treated with prescription corticosteroids sprays like fluticasone and mometasone.

In more severe cases where corticosteroids did not work, surgery might be prescribed by a doctor.


Sinus infection

nose hallucination

Sinusitis or sinus infection is caused by bacteria or virus infection of the sinus. It comes in different ways, all characterised by a foul smell in the nose or olfactory hallucinations.

Symptoms: Sinusitis could either be short, lasting for about 10 days or long, Chronic Sinusitis, lasting for up to 12 weeks.

Sinus infection is characterised by, bad smell in the nose, headaches, fatigue, post nasal drip, and facial pressure.

Treatment: Before talking of treatment options, a doctor should first of all diagnose the cause of the infection.

Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections and anti-viral therapy exists for viral infections. Hydration and rest is usually prescribed for both cases.


Postnasal drip

nose hallucination

The mucus of the nasal cavity helps keep it healthy by humidifying air, filtering foreign particle in inhaled air and fighting infection.

It normally mixes with saliva and gets swallowed unconsciously.

Sinus infection, cold or a flu can causes the mucus to thicken and smell badly. It usually begin with uncontrolled dripping of mucus down the throat.

This is known as postnasal drip. Initially it starts with no smell but could get odorous with time. If it is accompanied with blood from the nose, please consult a doctor.

Symptoms: constant swallowing of mucus, sore throat, coughing, dour in the nose and  in chronic cases, mucus in the middle ear that cause ear ache and ear infection.

Treatment: Doctors will recommend an antibiotic if infection is suspected or an antihistamine if an allergy is suspected.

Sleeping with the head slightly elevated, using saline nasal spray and taking lots of fluid are all recommended.

Drinking lots of fluids and using a saline nasal spray is helpful.  Make sure you consult a physician for proper treatment.


Tooth decay

nose hallucination

Bacteria build up in the mouth, especially the tooth (dental plaque) can cause tooth decal, mouth infection and bad phantom smell to come out of both the mouth and the nose.

This bad smell might only be perceived by you, making it a olfactory hallucinations, or could be perceived by near by persons when you breathe out or speak.

Prevention is by maintaining good oral hygiene. Seeing a dentist regularly is recommended for advice on tooth health.


Tonsil stones

nose hallucination

Food particles, dead cells, saliva and mucus can harden in the crevices of the tonsils to form tonsil stones.

The two lymph nodes located on each side of the back of the throat are known as tonsils.

How tonsil stones can develop olfactory hallucinations:

When bacteria in the mouth feed on this tonsil stones, it could generate bad smell in the nose and bad taste in the mouth. Poor oral hygiene and unusually large tonsils increase the risk of tonsil stones.

Prevention: Once again, good oral hygiene would prevent tonsil stones.

Gargling of water in the mouth, coughing and staying well hydrated could be used to prevent tonsil stones.

Laser rays had been used to treat severe cases of tonsil stones.





nose hallucination

This happens when the olfactory nerves in the nose hallucinates by smelling odours that are non-existing.

This condition cannot be blamed on bacteria or any other infection.

Phantosomia can be a side effect of a head injury or respiratory infection. Brain tumours, inflamed sinuses and Parkinson’s disease can also trigger phantosomia.

Treating the cause of phantom smells would usually stop them. In some persons, it goes on its own.

Chronic kidney disease

nose hallucination

The basic function of the kidney is to remove waste products from the body. A problem with the kidney can make it unable to perform this vital function.

This results in a gradual build-up of waste in the body. This build-up of waste can result in ammonia like smell at the back of the nose.

This can be regarded as a phantom smell because only the patient is able to percieve it.

Also an ammonia like or metallic taste can be noticed in the tongue.

This occurs after a chronic kidney disease has advanced to stage 4 or 5.

Conclusion: Note that most phantom smell in the nose are treatable. The fact that you observe any of the mentioned symptoms above doesn’t mean that you are suffering from that particular condition. Proper diagnosis and treatment can only be done by a medical doctor. Smell in the nose can signify different health conditions. Only a trained medical doctor can guide and direct you on the right steps to take.


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