Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Get Smells Stuck In My Nose

The internet tells me that I have cysts, or brain tumors, or who knows what else. Never consult the internet for medical advice.

Seriously: I get smells stuck in my nose. It's been happening for a couple of years now. Some time during the course of each day, there will be a smell that catches my attention, then it will come back again and again and again throughout the day. It's not, I think, in my hair, or on my skin, or in my clothes. I can shower and change clothes, and it will still be there. Often it's the meal that they're serving for Meals on Wheels. I'll smell fried chicken all day long.

A couple of months ago, I accidentally left a bag of frozen chicken breasts in the trunk of my car. In the Texas heat, in a little less than 36 hours, it went from frozen to rotten. The smell has lingered despite every effort I've made to clean the trunk. Some days, even far from the car, even after Aerie has said that the car doesn't smell bad, that horrible, rotten chicken stench will stay with me, all day long.

Sometimes it's the dead skunk we drove past. Sometimes it's the compost pile or the trash can. I think it's not always an actual smell, because I can sniff, drawing air across my olfactory nerves, and it doesn't provoke a response. It's often not so much a smell as a feeling. Or a memory. Well, not a memory; it's a real, physical sensation. But not always so much a scent like holding an onion to my nose and breathing deeply. It's just sort of there, even if I'm not breathing in. It's there, in my nose.

There's no telling what scent will stick. I've tried countering an offensive smell with a strong, pleasant smell, to no avail. And it doesn't go away with any predictability. Only sleeping and waking up seems to reset my brain or nose or whatever it is that holds on to the smells.

So do I have a brain tumor, or cysts in my sinuses, or what? This is kind of starting to freak me out. I guess I should mention this to the ENT doctor I'm seeing for my respiratory/allergy problems.

I acknowledge that I may just be crazy.

36 comments:

Renee said...

It must be genetic, i suffer from that too. The worse my hearing gets, the stronger my sense of smell. I smell things others cant, the smell (or remembrance) lingers for a long time. And random smells trigger strong memories.

I, Rodius said...

You don't have cysts in your sinus cavities, do you?

Stephanie said...

I get it too! I am glad I am not alone. They did a scan on me and found nothing. I know it is all in my head but at least it is real and others suffer too! Sometimes rinsing with saline works on clearing things out. It's not fun but neither is the stink.

I, Rodius said...

Maybe we're both crazy, Stephanie, but it makes me feel better knowing it's not just me!

Bob said...

I have it also and it appears to have appeared at the same time as IBS symptoms. Not sure if there is a connection but it si very unpleasant.

I, Rodius said...

I don't get the IBS symptoms, Bob, but I'm surprised how this has become the biggest Google search result for my blog. I'm not the only one!

Canadian Sin said...

I kid you not, when I said I was goint to Google this my coworkers laughed at me. But you haev NO idea how relieved I was to see that I'm not the only one that experiences this too. ALl day at work I will ask people, "DO you smell that." and they look at me like I'm crazy. Scents will "stick" in my nose for days at a time and not go away (falling asleep kind of "resets" it like you mentioned) I started seeing the symptoms when my second child was born 4 years ago but more strongly leading up to the jaw surgery i will be getting in february. Not sure by all these comments if I should be concerned or not.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a chronic sufferer of this condition. Everyone acts as tho I'm nuts. I do have sinus issues, but MS is also a possibility in my case and I do notice this odd symptom as 1 in a long list of symptoms I get at the beginning of an episode. With me the recurring symptoms are extreme fatigue, my stomach starts to never feel full, the smell, fluctuating body temp, sweating/chills cycle, loss of muscle tone and weakness, loss of vision, loss of hearing. When I start to lose my hearing I know I'm coming out of it. But the while time, sometimes weeks, I'll have 'the smell', and it's whatever happens to be there at the time. By far, the smell is thee worst part of the process and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind by the third day. Even a nice scent isn't nice after the third day of constant smelling it. Anyone else with MS having this issue? In addition to my chronic sinus issues I also have gastronomic paresis, my stomach is paralyzed. So I don't know which side the smell comes down on.

Carrieh said...

I get this too! Feels so good to know people are out there! I usually get one particular smell..a very very concentrated "wet washing powder and sweat smell." The first time it happened it stayed for months, but I have it now usually once or twice a year just for a day at a time. Weirdly I can smell things I pass "ontop" of THE smell...so I had the soap smell today, but I could smell the flowers in the garden as well.. it's most peculiar and I can never figure out a trigger...I do have slight IBS too...but no corresponding triggers! Nice to not be alone!

Anonymous said...

This has happens to ne lately it's driving me crazy! It smells like my dogs treats!! :(

Anonymous said...

This has happens to ne lately it's driving me crazy! It smells like my dogs treats!! :(

rosebud said...

I am having it as we speak. I always thought it was some sort of infected booger smell. Gross I know but I never know what causes it. I have IBS and colitis. I never did put the two issues together though. Huh, that is food for thought. It feels like it is way up inside my sinus cavities. I worry it affects my breath and everything else. I have had this on and off for years! I just had my adenoids out again and with that a few sinus scopes. My doc didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Pretty sure Im going nutso.

rosebud said...

I am having it as we speak. I always thought it was some sort of infected booger smell. Gross I know but I never know what causes it. I have IBS and colitis. I never did put the two issues together though. Huh, that is food for thought. It feels like it is way up inside my sinus cavities. I worry it affects my breath and everything else. I have had this on and off for years! I just had my adenoids out again and with that a few sinus scopes. My doc didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Pretty sure Im going nutso.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is a link between this weird smell thing & IBS? I have both too. I smell something strong and it drives me nuts looking for the cause when the offending article has long gone! SO glad I'm not alone!

Richard Barid said...

I've had this issue, too, and have ulcerative colitis in my family. Thanks for starting this discussion. It's heartening to know I'm not the only one. I'll get a scent (usually not not offensive, but certainly distinctive) "stuck" and it'll last for days. Strange.

Richard Barid said...

I've had this issue, too, and have ulcerative colitis in my family. Thanks for starting this discussion. It's heartening to know I'm not the only one. I'll get a scent (usually not not offensive, but certainly distinctive) "stuck" and it'll last for days. Strange.

Enrique Araujo said...

i guess im here to help u all. this always happens to me. its your hairs in your nose. the smell gets stuck there. coffee hardly helps. im going to try and cut them all out with one of those electric groomers that go all the way in your nostrils. i hope that helps. also i think salene will help. good luck to you all :)

randyklinger said...

I live in Scotland, and for the past 5 years I get this!
Some strong smell gets stuck. What is it! I asked at the haelth centre and the doctor said that I had a fine sence of smell!
My daughter has a pony and I help cleaning the field, it's an almost 24/7 pony poo experience in this nose!!
Help!!

John Hile said...

I found your post after realizing that I was still smelling a mosquito-repellent wipe that I used two days ago and realized that this 'stuck-smell' thing happens to me every few months and lasts, maybe 2-4 days. Like everyone else who commented, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

John Hile said...

I found your post after realizing that I was still smelling a mosquito-repellent wipe that I used two days ago and realized that this 'stuck-smell' thing happens to me every few months and lasts, maybe 2-4 days. Like everyone else who commented, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

Priscilla Paxson said...

I have chrons and I get smells "stuck" in my nose. The worst and most often is fried chicken!!

Priscilla Paxson said...

I have chrons and I get smells "stuck" in my nose. The worst and most often is fried chicken!!

sue Wilkinson said...

Hello all, it's good to read these comments. I too suffer with smells getting stuck up my nose . I often sit with a Vick stick on my nose to try and help shift the smell. I definitely suffer with sinus problems which are triggered by dairy and sugar . I will try the coffee bean trick . Thanks .

Dan Doerksen said...

Yup, I've got this too. My trigger seemed to be a surgery where they took a skin graft from the inside of my cheek. Ever since then, strong smells recur for days afterwards. Nothing like smelling your babies dirty diaper for 3 days!
Anyone actually found a reason for this?

Sergio Fernandez said...

Thanks to you all for your posts. I thought I was alone on this and about to go nuts. I've always had sinus problems. I had regular sinus surgery 5 years ago, and most recently balloon sinusplasty. That's when my problem began. I can walk past somebody smoking and the smells stays in my nose for days. I will spray my yard with insect pesticide and guess what: yep, the smells of the chemicals is in my nose for days. Pick any offensive odor and the same thing happens. Sometimes it even affects my tastes buds. Weird but I swear sometimes my food just doesn't taste the same while this condition is present.
For those of you wondering about my medical history:
I live an active life, workout regularly, not overweight , no smoking, no drugs, no heavy drinking, no medications.
My ENT says there's nothing wrong inside, no polyps, nothing. I have no allergies.
Been to a neurologist, had an MRI, no tumor, nothing.
There's no family history of this (they all think I'm nuts cuz I'm the only one smelling these things when they're around), I have no IBS or loss of hearing issues like some of you either.
I travel a lot, so the problem is not confined to a geographical area. Miami, New York, LA, my nose does not discriminate! Except for the types of smells that it likes of course. Sweet aromas, perfumes, nice Italian dish, nope, it seems it is partial to totally obnoxious smells. I live in a dumpster part of the year folks but none of my Doctors can find a thing wrong with me.
I've tried coffee beans, saline, sinus flush, perfumes, you name it , it's been done and nothing works except for one thing: time. The smells usually go away anywhere from 3-5 days. I'll wake up one day, and smells are all gone. I'll be ok for a couple of months sometimes even a record 3 months and then it starts all over again. Kind of getting used to the pattern but still aggravating.
Sorry for the long post, but you guys gave me the courage to finally talk and share about this "phenomenon". After all the pros said there's nothing wrong with me at least now, I know I'm not alone. And I do BELIEVE YOU!!!
Hope this helps somebody as you have helped me and a cure for this "thing that is not inside your nose" but you know it is, is just around the corner.
Good night and pleasant smells...

cindy wardrop said...

Wow. I have a doctors appointment on the 12th of November for just this problem. I also get "smells stuck" it's usually a greasy cooking smell and I don't own a deep fryer. This is usually followed by a 3 day migraine headache. It's almost like a warning. Right now I'm still smelling sweat from my morning workout although I showed and put on scented moisturizer. In about 2 days I will have my migraine again. My husband thinks I've lost my mind!!!! Let's see what the doc has to say.

filmprocessing said...

Ha! Found this via a search. Chiming in here for the same condition.
For me though it's any strong smell, good or bad.
Tonight I made bolognase with fresh sage. I can still smell a very strong sage smell hours later. It seems to linger until the next strong smell. Interestingly it appears to have no effect on my normal sense of smell.
Very strange. Initially I had a strong smell (kind of musty pine wood) that I thought wasn't fluctuating but there can be no doubt now that for the last 12 months or so the strong smells are sticking for hours and often days after contact and then shifting to the next strong smell.
From my research no one understands this. I've been to a specialist and had an MRI. MRI came back clear and the specialist effectively shrugged his shoulders saying that there's many mysteries around our brains and the olfactory sense that we simply don't understand. I feel lucky that often the smells I experience are not unpleasant. And horrified at the thought of getting a bad smell stuck.
Also, I've noticed that the intensity of it seems to worsen if I'm over tired or stressed. This to me does suggest a pathology to the condition but my instinct is that it's a mild pathology. I can only speak for myself I guess. In my case I can trace the exact moment when this condition started and it occurred after a psychologically stressful personal experience. My feeling is that the stress has altered the way the brain functions around olfactory processing and a bit of re-wiring or cross-wiring has taken place. I doubt that it's reversible but nor do I think it's getting worse. I think our consciousness of the condition alters the way we perceive it and it's in this fact that lies any potential liberation from the condition. Because the fact is the medical/scientific community is clueless about this problem. That's why these forums are really important and a great tool for a problem such as this. Sharing it somehow takes some of the sting out of it and we all know how it's good to not blow things up and not to get stressed or anxious. Anxiety itself is a breeding ground for pathology so it stands to reason that anything that lessons the anxiety is a good thing.
My 2 bits!

Princess Fiona Crystal said...

OH God! I have it all the time...it started in i guess december 2012 after i had this sinus issue in Nov 2012. Starting with the rotten smell thing that would never go away.
what followed next is everything i ate tasted the same strange kind of thing like some potato chips with some mild spices on it.
I could not smell food and it doesnot matter whati ate the taste and smell stayed around.
The doc first told me that i had taste bud issue..then he said its sinus.
after three months the taste came back to normal on its own but after that the smell changed. It keeps on changing most of the time its some strange like some very very strong perfume that smalls like metal and mint maybe or i donno what it is .
but if there is some foul smell around me..the smell will make me crazy like increasing 10 times into my nose to the point i can't take it any more and will stick around my nose for few hours or days.
Then again once the smell goes away..the certain perfume smell comes again.
I still smell it as I write this.

Look Up said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Look Up said...

Thanks to all your post here. Smell stuck in my nose and it's suffocating me for minutes or an hour especially while I'm walking on the street I can smell cooking of dish. It's really awful. Doc told me i might have allergy rhinitis. This has been happening to me over a decade.I grab perfume or vicks, any oil to lessen or diminish that smell. I plan to have my nose check.. if there's other way not to have this uncomfortable feeling of being suffocated of smell.

Michael Sandridge said...

I'm relieved that I am not the only one in the world with this problem. I made french onion soup last night and it's all I can smell today. Is there something wrong with me?

Michael Sandridge said...

I'm relieved that I am not the only one in the world with this problem. I made french onion soup last night and it's all I can smell today. Is there something wrong with me?

Carolyn Lieberg said...

One more here. I live in Washington, DC, and the most commonly "stuck" smell is from the Metro -- either its "winter uses" or the pungent cleaner used to erase them. If I don't use the Metro for a few days, the smell goes, and if I cook or am in the presence of other scents, the new ones take over.

I've decided it's little like tinnitus, but instead of a background sound, it's a background scent. I don't care about it enough to consult (and pay for) medical expertise. It seems from the postings here that the condition is not well known.

These postings are making me recall an article from the New Yorker many years ago about a man who was so plagued by the smell of pizza, he tried remedy after remedy. The only peace he found was in a forest. Someone finally determined that he had a shortage of a fairly basic vitamin or mineral. Yes, zinc. Oysters, lentils, sunflower seeds, pecans. I'm going to try that route.

Carlos Phillips said...

Wow, this is much more common than I thought. I am currently suffering from this condition. Back in September I had a kidney stone and took some rather powerful pain medication, around the same, just before, I think, I made a honey mustard chicken dish. I smelled honey mustard for months up until about mid January...no joke !! Not sure if the meds and the condition are related in any way. In january of this year, I noticed I had not been smelling that smell for a while. Then I went to a restaurant and had a dish topped with very strange smelling sauce. I smelled that sauce for a couple of weeks until I recently bought a REALLY bad sausage biscuit. Silly enough I took a bite thinking it was just a little overdone, but it may have been rotten because it was pink inside. I couldnt take another bite. it stunk up the car for a while after i discarded it. Anyway, I've been smelling that nasty God awful sausage biscuit for two weeks now even as I write this. This is the strangest thing I've ever experienced or that my wife has ever heard of. Tried using a saline solution to no avail. I need a cure for this condition!

Nancy Austin said...

I have it, too. I've had the condition for a few months off and on. It's always an unpleasant smell. It will eventually go away probably after 3-4 days and I forget it happened until the next bad smell which started today. It's a smell I picked up visiting a sick person. Now I know I'll have it "stuck" for a few days. Now that I know the doctors can't diagnose it, I'll save myself a lot of time, aggravation and money by ignoring it. I also have tinnitus which I've had for years, but I've also learned to tune it out. I wonder if the two are related in any way.

Shellicat said...

I get this also. Several years ago I had some really good cauliflower soup from a cafe close to my work. There was some spice in it that was unfamiliar to me but it tasted good. The only thing was the smell of that spice stayed in my nose for a couple of weeks! When I mentioned it to people they looked at me like I had 3 heads so I was starting to worry that maybe I was crazy!

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