← Return to Smelling Cigarette Smoke (Phantosmia): What could it mean?

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Looks like I'm over a year late to this conversation, but anyway – I'm currently trying to figure out what's wrong with me

45 years old
On 200-500mg of gabapentin daily, for about 7 months, for nerve pain in my hands caused by some minor cervical impingements
Started Lisinopril 20mg nightly for borderline high blood pressure about 2 months ago

For the last 4 weeks I've had the worst cold-like symptoms I can recall – and 2 negative COVID tests – vaccinated since April.
Tightness in chest, difficulty getting deep breaths, exhaustion, coughing. (coughing is a side effect of Lisinopril)
Before this happened, I was able to run 3 miles every other day with light upper body exercise. This congestion has forced me to cut way back on exercise.

I smell dirt/dust everywhere! Nobody else in my household is having this problem.
I've always had a very strong sense for bad smells, and the Fall Season always brings out the worst in my sinus allergies, but this season has been especially bad, and meds for my cold and allergies would of course open up my nose.
The strong dirt smell is new. I have always been able to smell my own shoe'd feet, anything sweaty, cooked broccoli always reeks.

I have bouts of depression and the worst symptoms of my cold came on during a stressful time. My worst neuropathy came on during last years holiday stress. My mom has a history of thyroid issues and fibromyalgia.

Everyone had a stressful covid year. I've continued to work full time, plus manage 2 freelance projects, both of which I am frustrated with the results of. Full time work is low stress. Interactions with people have become vastly more draining.

I'm so tired of doctors appointments, and while the gabapentin has helped, it's such a low dose that it's hard for me to believe it could be causing side effects. Overall, talking to my multiple doctors hasn't yielded a great change in my results.

I did talk therapy from June 2019-Feb 2020, with couples talk therapy mixed into the middle. Lately I'm avoiding screen time and doing more reading. I'm quite happy to spend time alone, which is hard to do with a family, but I don't want to tear up relationships just so I can be alone.


So I'm wondering what role Stress and Anxiety could be playing in all of this, including my neuropathy. Could this all be in my head? And if it's all in my head, how can I fix my head??

And how can I stop smelling dirt everywhere?

any responses much appreciated : )

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Replies to "Looks like I'm over a year late to this conversation, but anyway - I'm currently trying..."

oh – and itchy skin, sensation of tiny bugs crawling on me. Often they are, small gnat-type things. And often I'm probably being neurotic about it

Hello @scottula, Welcome to Connect. While we wait for other members to respond and share their experiences I did find some information supporting that stress and anxiety can play a part in parosmia.

— Feeling stressed makes the world smell worse: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/feeling-stressed-makes-the-world-smell-worse-8844178.html
— A shot of anxiety and the world stinks: How stress can rewire brain, making benign smells malodorous: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924174150.htm

Here's an article that may offer some ideas for treatments that help — Parosmia: https://www.healthline.com/health/parosmia

Have you discussed the new symptoms with your doctor?

@scottula, that sounds miserable. Here's an explanation Mayo Clinic of olfactory hallucination (phantosmia) that makes you detect smells that aren't really present in your environment.

– Phantosmia: What causes olfactory hallucinations? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/temporal-lobe-seizure/expert-answers/phantosmia/faq-20058131

Phantosmia may be caused by upper respiratory infection and you mention that you have issues like congestion, tightness in chest, difficulty getting deep breaths, and exhaustion.

Stress certainly effects our health too, sometimes in surprising ways. You might try this online course. It was written for cancer patients, but I think it is useful for anyone experiencing stress.
– Mayo Clinic Stress Management for Cancer https://mccmscontent.mayo.edu/LSC/stress-management-for-cancer/content/index.html#/

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