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Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/phantosmia/AN01684
- With Mayo Clinic neurologist
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
Dr. Jerry Swanson is a board-certified neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also board certified in headache medicine and is a professor of neurology at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. He has a special interest in medical education.
Dr. Swanson, a Lacon, Ill., native, was appointed to the Mayo Clinic staff in 1982 and works in the Department of Neurology with more than 90 other physicians. He formerly chaired the department's Division of Headache and continues to work with headache subspecialists around the world. He has published and lectured widely on headache disorders. He also serves as assistant dean for assessment at Mayo Medical School.
"In a manner similar to the printing press, Internet technology enables the unprecedented ability to communicate with the global community about health information," Dr. Swanson says. "There is no doubt that the knowledgeable individual contributes greatly to his or her own health care, and now we can share information much more widely.
"There is much information already available about health care on the Internet. Unfortunately, much of it is not founded on sound principles. It is exciting to be a part of the web team and contribute to the creation of a reliable and timely health resource."
Dr. Swanson is the neurology editor for "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and has reviewed articles for "Mayo Clinic Health Letter" and "Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource." He is also editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic on Headache" book, published in 2004. In 2008 the magazine Women's Health named him one of America's Top Doctors for Women. In 2011 he received the Mayo Medical School Dean's Recognition Award for his contributions to undergraduate medical education.
- Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?
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Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations?
What causes olfactory hallucinations (phantosmia)?
from Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
Many people are sensitive to certain smells, but in an olfactory hallucination (phantosmia), you detect smells that aren't really present in your environment.
The odors detected in phantosmia vary from person to person and may be foul or pleasant. They can occur in one or both nostrils and usually can't be masked by food.
Phantosmia most often occurs as a result of a head injury or upper respiratory infection. It can also be caused by temporal lobe seizures, sinusitis, brain tumors, migraine, Parkinson's disease and stroke.
Because phantosmia can in rare cases be an indication of a serious underlying disorder, consult your doctor if you experience such symptoms.
Note that phantosmia is different from another disorder of sense of smell, known as parosmia, in which a smell is present in your environment but is distorted. Parosmia can occur with damage to the olfactory system, such as after a severe respiratory infection. In this situation, there's usually also a loss of sense of smell.Next question
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- Mann NM, et al. Anatomy and etiology of smell and taste disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/ index. Accessed May 1, 2012.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 1, 2012.
- Smell and taste disorders. The Merck Manuals: Home Edition for Patients and Caregivers. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear_nose_and_throat_disorders/nose_sinus_and_taste_disorders/smell_and_taste_disorders.html. Accessed May 1, 2012.
- O'Brien EK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 29, 2012.