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Unusual Smell - Olfactory Seizures
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Unusual Smell - Olfactory Seizures

I am interested in information concerning Olfactory Seizures.  I was diagnosed with sensory seizures. I smell what seems to be an electrical smell, almost sweet, rather similar to a chocolate candle burning but also a little similar to ironing with spray starch.  I smell this smell every waking moment while it is occurring, and it also gives me a mild metallic taste in my mouth.  By the end of the day the smell has caused a headache, nausea and burning eyes.  It lasts for days, but this smell is also absent for months.  When I first started having this smell, it lasted about 6 months.  It started shortly after the death of my 18 year old son (in a car accident) almost 5 years ago.  When I first started seeking the reason why I was smelling this odor that no one else could smell, I offered to the physicians that possibly that this was grief related.  They all told me that it was not.  My main concern now is that this smell is becoming stronger and seems that my symptoms have increased.  This episode my eyes have also been burning and I seem to be sleepy and yawn frequently.  When I awake in the mornings, I usually do not smell this smell for 2 - 3 minutes, before it recurs.  I have read that these seizures can generalize and cause brain damage and I would like to know what I can do to abate that.  I am not on any medication for this disorder at present time.  Is this true about the generalization (I fear this may be true, from the increasing of my symptoms), and should I be on medication?  Also, from what I read of others symptoms, their episodes only last seconds to a few minutes ... and mine last for days to weeks.  Is this significant?   My history is as follows: I am a 49 year old female with hypothyroidism, migraines (right sided), fibromyalgia (neck , shoulders and upper back), mitral valve prolapse who has had a TAH, BSO.  I take 0.2 Synthroid daily and Soy Estrogen to help control hot flashes and insomnia.  I occasionally take 5 mg. Ambien for sleeplessness more than 2 nights.  My  EEG
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Based on your description I think it is unlikely that these are seizures, although I can not be 100%. If they are seizures, the normal EEG does not help. An isolated olfactory seizure could be missed on routine EEG. The features which make me doubt the seizure possibility include the length of the episodes. A sensory seizure such as an olfactory seizure typically only lasts seconds to miutes and then either stops or changes into a larger seizure. The larger seizure could simply be staring and unresponsiveness or a full convulsion.

Other possibilities would include a migraine variant, or a structural lesion.

Perhaps a second opinion with another neurologist (one who specializes in epilepsy) would be reasonable. Then further testing and diagnostic studies could be arranged.
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, this might be unrelated but you might want to check the symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency.  Look for a thread called "Magnesium Deficient?" posted earlier on this board.

Although I haven't had migraines or smelled unusual smells, I mention it anyway because I have all your other symptoms.  I've had burning/tearing eyes which I read recently may be related to a B-2 deficiency.  The body uses magnesium for B-2 uptake.

I am hypothyroid also.  There is a relationship between T4 levels and magnesium.  I also have what I thought was fibromyalgia (continuous neck , shoulders and upper back pain particularly on waking) but that cleared after several weeks of magnesium.  I also have mitral valve prolapse which is known to be connected with magnesium deficiency.  And insomnia is also symptom.  At its worst, a dream will startle you awake, and then you can't go back to sleep because the fight-or-flight response won't stop.  My sleep seems back to normal after about 7 weeks of magnesium glycinate.  

Magnesium deficiency can be depleted by high levels of extreme stress of extended periods, and if you have enough bouts of anxiety over years, without enough magnesium restored between bouts of anxiety, you can get into a vicious anxiety-building cycle that can leave you in a state where you have difficulty releasing the fight-or-flight response.

By the way, magnesium has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of migraines.

I hope this information is helpful in some way.  Your post touched my heart.
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Avatar_n_tn
I experienced something very strange last night while riding the subway. All of a sudden I smelled something weird... something I've never smelled before. It had a sort of sharp... sour... chemical-like smell to it (not a very good description). I inhaled deeper to try to place the smell and I immediately felt like I was going to pass out... extreme vertigo... also accompanied by tunnel vision... a little ringing in the ears. It also appeared to me as if the subway car was "smoky" or "hazy" - but only for a short time and it seemed to dissipate. Apparently I was the only one in the car that experienced this because no one else looked bothered by anything. I'm quite concerned only because this has never happened to me before - and in doing some research on the internet today... i've found that this is often a precursor to seizures or migraines. I have never had seizures - nor has anyone in my family. Any ideas?
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Avatar_n_tn
I experienced something very strange last night while riding the subway. All of a sudden I smelled something weird... something I've never smelled before. It had a sort of sharp... sour... chemical-like smell to it (not a very good description). I inhaled deeper to try to place the smell and I immediately felt like I was going to pass out... extreme vertigo... also accompanied by tunnel vision... a little ringing in the ears. It also appeared to me as if the subway car was "smoky" or "hazy" - but only for a short time and it seemed to dissipate. Apparently I was the only one in the car that experienced this because no one else looked bothered by anything. I'm quite concerned only because this has never happened to me before - and in doing some research on the internet today... i've found that this is often a precursor to seizures or migraines. I have never had seizures - nor has anyone in my family. Any ideas?
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This forum may be of help to you:

http://neuro-mancer.mgh.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/forumdisplay.cgi?action=topics&number=33&SUBMIT=Go
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