Smell Hallucinations and Dementia

819 Blog iron 20150216a 2in200ppiTru here.  These smell hallucinations (phantosmia or olfactory hallucinations) are driving me crazy!!  Several times an hour I smell “hot” electrical wires -like a “short” in the system or an old iron with frayed cord. Been smelling this in living room, bedroom, car, etc. … Everywhere I go!

Smell hallucinations started a couple years ago with random smells like new-mown grass in the bedroom, with windows closed, in the middle of winter.

This particular “hot” smell started this Fall, and right now it is several times in an hour almost every hour!  I rarely talk about it because I have discovered that there is usually no basis for the smell.  But boy is it distracting!  Uuuuhhhhhh!!!

Mentioned to my young-onset friends.  Six out of the seven responders said they had experienced problems with “hot” or “burning” smell, either in past or currently.  Since they experienced this, two of these PWD (Persons With Dementia) have almost completely lost all smell sensations.  Seems like there should be some research on the commonality of this particular smell phenomenon, but I have never heard of any.  One patient suggested her smell hallucinations seemed to be temporarily assuaged by sniffing freshly ground coffee beans.

Like many other dementia symptoms, I think smell hallucinations can be a tremendous distraction to thought; whether productive conversation or other types of thought.  Another aspect of concern is safety.  When I smell “burning” several times per day, I automatically discount my sensory credibility.  If something was truly burning, I would not know it unless I noticed smoke, heat, or fire.  So husband is extra-careful to make sure batteries are current in smoke alarms.

Additionally; when an alarm goes off, I often have no idea where sound is coming from because I cannot remember what sounds the different appliances or gadgets create.  I check my phone, husband’s iPad, oven, microwave, etc, and then I just try to stop the noise by putting in ear plugs.

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7 thoughts on “Smell Hallucinations and Dementia

  1. Truthful this is very interesting as I also have this problem and constantly keep asking Sumi what can I smell burning! Its very strange and can happen in any room of the house, and yes at times I also get the aroma like coffee being roasted, I don’t know why this should happen but it does get very bewildering

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s such a scary situation Tru. I guess it’s scary for me because I worry about your safety but for you, as you mentioned, it’s distracting and I would assume frustrating. I can’t imagine if my smell became unreliable. How about smells that come from your chickens or the land you live on? Are they “normal” for lack of better words?

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    • I have completely lost one sensor for spoiled meat, but not all kinds of spoiled meat. Odd -instead of being distorted it is simply GONE. if the odor is overwhelming then cannot smell plastic bag, no sense of any meat at all. — the ABSENCE of smell! Amazing. I have a lot of essential oils because in past 20yrs I have combined fragrance designs for family members as gifts. My “nose” is not as good but most scents I can still smell right now. My theory is that these smell hallucinations are part of the process when losing the sensors for that odor. But never heard anything indicating anyone else follows that theory. — Tru

      Liked by 1 person

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