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

Posted by iceblue @iceblue, Dec 28, 2019

At some point in the past week or two I started smelling cigarette smoke where there definitely was none. Initially it was just a brief whiff while sitting in my easy chair and then it would be gone, but now I smell it everywhere. And it’s no longer just a brief whiff – it’s almost constant and to the point where it sometimes makes me feel nauseous.

I have recently increased the amount of Gabapentin I’m taking from 300 mg/day to 500 mg/day. Is it possible the increase in Gabapentin has anything to do with this?

@merpreb

@lisalucier– Thank you for inviting me into this discussion.
@iceblue: During the beginning of my PTSD journey my first symptoms were migraines. Although they were pretty bad they were also filled with other sensations other than pain. One in particular, phantosmia, was particularity noticeable. That was smelling all sorts of smells. This was preceded by a second cancer and chemo. I agree, it's disconcerting! I never got it checked out. My husband was familiar with it and explained it to me. Now, 12 years later I still get these occasionally. And who knows, maybe there is smoke in the air for real that's been carried toward you. Maybe someone new in your neighborhood or driving by in a car? Who really knows what goes on in our brain and how medicines might influence changes. If this is very bothersome perhaps do some of your own research, like googling your current medicines and the effects of increasing dosages. Do you smell any other odors?

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@merpreb Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂 I've been doing quite a bit of research, and the possibility of migraines is a possibility. My father and sister suffered horribly from migraines. I've had a couple of memorable headaches but was never diagnosed with migraines. I did suffer from chronic headaches for many, many years, but when we moved to our current location 3 years ago, they went away. Apparently my body prefers semi-desert dryness to coastal dampness.

I am beginning to wonder about a possible sinus infection or some other type of sinus irritation, because yesterday I began to feel sinus pressure. I will keep an eye on that. Perhaps I should take a decongestant even though I am not congested. OTC meds are controlling the sinus pain, and a Vicks inhaler is giving me a break from the smell. My one attempt at a sinus rinse to get rid of the smell failed miserably – but also confirmed that my sinuses are clear.

One definite benefit to this experience is that I have no desire to snack in the evening, so I may actually drop a pound or two!!!

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@iceblue– Losing weight if you want to is always a good thing but instead of guessing what you might have perhaps an appointment with an ENT would be wise?

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@merpreb

@iceblue– Losing weight if you want to is always a good thing but instead of guessing what you might have perhaps an appointment with an ENT would be wise?

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The comment about weight loss was partially tongue in cheek. I won't mention the issue again until I see my doctor.

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I also take Gabapentin, 2700 mg a day. I also get phantom smells. I do not believe it is the gabapentin, I believe it is from headaches, particularly migraines. There are many people with migraines who get phantom smells. I get phantom burning smells. I guess I was never particularly alarmed by it.

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Smelling smoke (or, oddly, toast) that isnt there is also a type of migraine aura. However, my best guess is that it's a drug side effect – not some dread disease or serious problem but, of course, this is not medical advice.

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@jana15

I also take Gabapentin, 2700 mg a day. I also get phantom smells. I do not believe it is the gabapentin, I believe it is from headaches, particularly migraines. There are many people with migraines who get phantom smells. I get phantom burning smells. I guess I was never particularly alarmed by it.

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I agree that I don’t think it is the gabapentin causing the phantom smells. I had a VERY SEVERE case of the smell issue on and off for seven months. I also had numerous other symptoms and was very sick. It came and went over twenty times. At the time this happened in May 2016 I had been taking Gabapentin for fifteen years without a problem. I’m certainly no doctor but I think it isn’t the Gabapentin.

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You are taking a pretty small dose of gabapentin. I am not a doctor but in 2016 I had a case of phantom smell so bad I couldn’t eat or drink. I went from healthy to bedridden sick on and off for seven months. I lost over thirty pounds. I went to Mayo Clinic in Florida (don’t go there) five times and to Cleveland Clinic. I lost my job of 27 years because I was so sick. It came and went for seven months. My point to you is throughout this ordeal I was taking gabapentin for another issue for fifteen years and a way bigger dose. I don’t know if the gabapentin can cause that but my guess is it isn’t that. What ended up helping me with the smell problem was an anxiety drug called clorazepate. I was prescribed it for anxiety because I was a busy 58 year old commercial office space manager, designer and general contractor and what happened to me including the smell issue stopped me dead in my tracks. No one was ever able to tell me why or what but it was in the brain not my smell.

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@palmorejs

You are taking a pretty small dose of gabapentin. I am not a doctor but in 2016 I had a case of phantom smell so bad I couldn’t eat or drink. I went from healthy to bedridden sick on and off for seven months. I lost over thirty pounds. I went to Mayo Clinic in Florida (don’t go there) five times and to Cleveland Clinic. I lost my job of 27 years because I was so sick. It came and went for seven months. My point to you is throughout this ordeal I was taking gabapentin for another issue for fifteen years and a way bigger dose. I don’t know if the gabapentin can cause that but my guess is it isn’t that. What ended up helping me with the smell problem was an anxiety drug called clorazepate. I was prescribed it for anxiety because I was a busy 58 year old commercial office space manager, designer and general contractor and what happened to me including the smell issue stopped me dead in my tracks. No one was ever able to tell me why or what but it was in the brain not my smell.

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Please note that it isnt necessarily does that causes side effects, such as phantom smell, in some people – it is the way the drug works on an individual's brain and olfactory senses. Just because one person has symptoms at x amount doesn't mean another won't at a fractio nof that dosage.

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i developed smelling smoke after I had a stroke in 2015. I still get the problem and doctors are not concerned. I have them say it could be a worst smell. when it happens to me it also takes away my energy and I am short of breath more. I also have voice changes when it happens but not all times and I had voice problems before stroke. The voice started when the doctor decided I had fibromyalgia. Good luck getting it gone- it is annoying.

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To @lesion I was very surprised to see that someone else has the voice changes. I have that problem as well. Mine tends to come and go and I haven’t found anything that fixes it. I have had success with the smell issue with the drug clorazepate. Although I was never given a firm diagnosis and my story is too long to type, I also think I had some sort of stroke about four years ago. The voice issue is so annoying. I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

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@palmorejs

To @lesion I was very surprised to see that someone else has the voice changes. I have that problem as well. Mine tends to come and go and I haven’t found anything that fixes it. I have had success with the smell issue with the drug clorazepate. Although I was never given a firm diagnosis and my story is too long to type, I also think I had some sort of stroke about four years ago. The voice issue is so annoying. I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

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I haven't lost my voice. But I have a lot of problems swallowing and the doctors don't know what to think of it. Like when I take my vitamins in the morning and I have them in my mouth with water, and for some reason it's like my throat is not when I swallow which also keeps me from eating sometimes. I can't wait to quit smoking

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@veteranspouseinpain

I haven't lost my voice. But I have a lot of problems swallowing and the doctors don't know what to think of it. Like when I take my vitamins in the morning and I have them in my mouth with water, and for some reason it's like my throat is not when I swallow which also keeps me from eating sometimes. I can't wait to quit smoking

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@veteranspouseipain- Cigaretts can cause more than cancer. They can deaden your mouth and other areas, They can do so much harm that I would have to write a book to go into all that. But I'm sure that you know it anyway. I smoked for 35 years and have had lung cancer for 22+ years. I am wondering why you haven't stopped smoking. If you can''t wait, than don't. I quit because I found out that I had lung cancer. It's very very hard, especially for women. You might feel horrible for a a while but it gets easier and more tolerable and if I did it, anyone should be able to. It's such a relief when you do.
Here is some help. I wish you success and that healthy life!
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/stop-smoking/about/pac-20385048
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/addiction-recovery/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ways-to-curb-your-cravings-for-nicotene/

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