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Heightened sense of smell
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Heightened sense of smell

Hello.  My wife has a condition called hyperosmia, which, as I'm sure you know, is an elevated sense of smell.  Not only does she smell odors that no one else even notices, the odors are always nauseating to her.  Many odors that are enjoyable to me and others, such as colognes, perfumes, and certain foods as they are being cooked -- make her sick to the point of opening windows and turning on fans even on the coldest days.  Though I've searched all over the net looking for a cure--or a least a treatment for her condition--I haven't found one.  Her condition, which started slowly several years ago, seems to worsen  with each passing day.  She is 62 years old and has had fibromyalgia for at least 15 years.  About 2 tears ago she was diagnosed with COPD.  There hasn't been any trauma to her nose or elsewhere.  She does have a polyp in one of her nasal passages.  Could that be the cause of her problem?  Any suggestions you might have are welcome.  Thank you for your time and expertise.  
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Without the ability to examine your wife and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of her symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Unlike hyposmia, or reduced sense of smell, hyperosmia, or heightened sense of smell, if very rarely related to a neurologic disorder. Some people are sensitive to specific smells in that they may trigger migraines. Olfactory hallucinations, or perceptions of smells that are not present, occurs with certain types of seizures and with tumors or other lesions to specific parts of the brain. However, over-sensitivity to existing smells is not generally explainable by a neurologic problem. It has been suggested that some people are overly sensitive to smells and other things such as pollen, dust, and other allergens, what is termed multiple chemical sensitivity, as part of an immune-mediated allergic process. However, this diagnosis is not widely accepted in the medical community, and sensitivity to perfumes etc. is different from sensitivity to allergens. Hyperosmia could in a way be a reflection of excessive anxiety. A nasal polyp would not lead to hyperosmia, though whether or not the polyp is otherwise causing symptoms would be a question to better ask an ENT.

Sometimes, psychological counseling or biofeedback (to help persons reduce their bodies' and minds' response to a benign stimulus such as a smell) is helpful in treating symptoms such as the hyperosmia you describe in your wife.

Thank you for using the forum I hope you find this information useful good luck.
2 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Sorry to see anyone going through this very debilitating condition. I have the same prolems with it that your wife has and could go on for hours adding to the list of odors that make me sick. My story is very long so I won't try to tell it here. I will just say that I remember having pain from odors when I was 10, I am now 64. I've been taking painreliver every day and most nights since I was in my early 20's. I'm not surprised that the doctor wasn't much help. The first ENT I visited wearing a homemade nose clip so I could handle the odors in his office, told me that I would find no help for my condition and I would have to learn to live with it. That was 7 years ago and I haven't found any help yet.

After two years of looking for help and trying to live with it, I settled into a state of depression till recently. I am currently trying again to find some help and will be happy let you know somehow if I do.

Good luck on your end
darrylfl
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