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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest ways to rule out phantosmia

Answered by
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Dr. Vasudha Jayant Athavale

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1970

Answered : 6533 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 13 Apr 2018 in Brain and Spine
Question: I continuously smell the odor of car exhaust no matter where I am. The odor is “stuck” in my nose. I take no prescription drugs. Just had annual physical with no chronic illness. This is a first.
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Answered by Dr. Vasudha Jayant Athavale 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
It is Phantosmia or hallucinatory smell.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, xxxxxx,
Thanks for asking your health concern to Health care magic. I have read & understood it.
Having continuous car exhaust smell.. when it is not there, seems to be a disturbed function of olfactory nerve( olfactory nerve hallucination)... also called as Phantosmia. Many a times it vanishes spontaneously. It needs to be managed in other cases.
Though you don't have any chronic health issue .. let us make a list of possible causes of phantosmia for your information,
- Post viral infection.
- Nasal / sinus infection/ nasal polyp/deviated nasal septum.
-It could be an aura before getting migraine pain.
-Habit of smoking/ dental problems can cause it.
- Neurological - Like cervical spine spondylitis /conditions affecting nervous system- epilepsy,Alzheimers ,Parkinson's diseases/ stroke/ History of head injury.
- In cases of brain tumors.
* in this context I would advise for a general health check up to confirm that it is not a body/ oral/ ear odour OR symptoms of neurological diseases by your family physician. You would then be advised to have-
- Consultation of an ENT surgeon to find cause in ear, nose or throat infection,/ Nasal endoscopy would help in finding nasal polyps or deviated septum causing sub clinical symptoms of inflammation/ infection.
- CT scan/MRI of brain & spinal cord would point out related conditions .
After noting the basic cause treatment can be offered.( treatment of the cause / local treatment by rinsing nasal passage with saline solution/ steroid nasal drops/antidepressants, & anti epileptic drugs in some patients )
I hope that answers your query.Any follow up query is welcome.
Thanks.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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