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Constant smoke smell in nasal passages.

I am a non-smoker. We are a non-smoking family. I am not around smokers at all. Why do I have the constant smell of smoke in my nose. It used to be just an occasional thing, but lately it seems to be all the time. I am concerned that this is a symptom of something I don't know about. The smell is strong. I used to notice it about a half hour after taking my Allegra-D 12 hr. tablets, but now I smell it much more often. Am I going crazy or is there something to this I'm not aware of. Has anyone else experienced this? Please help?
571 Responses
Avatar universal
I have had that same smoke smell in my nose from time to time. I also get the sensation that one feels after they have been punched in the nose, but not very often. Probably only about 3 times a year or so. I do have sinus problems and always have, but I have never really taken anything for it other than something over the counter during a cold. I have regular stuffiness and pretty much always have. I just have learned to deal with it. It would be nice to know were that smoke smell comes from. No one else smells it when I say I do. I have never smoked nor have I lived in a home were anyone smokes either.
Avatar universal
Thanks so much for your comments. At least I know I am not going crazy. I found out after I wrote my message that my mom also used to experience the same thing.  She says she is sure that it has something to do with impacted sinus tissue. The doctors still think I'm imagining it but one day I'll find one who takes me seriously and we'll figure out exactly what causes it. Thanks again and I hope you stay well.
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HI, this happened to me one day out of the blue.  All of a sudden the sensation that someone just lit a match and the sulfur smell just went up my nose.  I did become sick a few days later with sinus issues.  Very strange.
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The only other thing I have heard concerning this, and I do not mean to be an alarmist, is that a smell of something burning can be related to brain tumors. I suppose if you start smelling it all of the time you should probably be concerned.
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Thanks to Duchess47, Wepst and JDanMan for your comments and suggestions. I will seriously look into all of your suggestions and hope that it's just some seasonal allergy thing. Thanks again.
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i just started smelling smoke about 2 days ago.  it seems to be getting worse.  it's really starting to bug me now.  i have never smoked, and i'm smelling the smoke when no one else can smell it.
Avatar universal
FINALLY a name for this.  PHANTOSMIA.  I found some links regarding this when I did a search for olfactory damage since I had a cat-scan done and the ENT specialist said that although the scan did not show anything - that it sounded like my past illness had caused some olfactory nerve damage.  There also has been some mention of possible damage being caused by certain medications.  I am going to talk to ENT again regarding possible surgical solution to this since I have seen some info on this being successful before.  This is becoming unbearable at times and even makes my eyes sting.  I am SICK of putting Vicks Vapo-rub under my nose in order to be able to sleep a night.  Have gone through a round of Cipro - but it has not helped.  Has actually gotten worse lately.   My best hope at this point seems to be prayer - but will still keep checking on medical options also.  Please let me know if you have any new info.  ***@****
Avatar universal
I FINALLY found a name for this.  PHANTOSMIA.  It seems to be olfactory nerve damage that can cause phantom smells (smells without a physical source) such as rotting flesh, smoke, or some other unpleasant smell.  This seems to be a connection to viral infections, some medications, or sometime less frequently neurological reasons as a possible source for this condition.  I have seen an ENT specialist and had a cat-scan which did not show anything out of the ordinary - but the specialist said he thought that I had suffered nerve damage which could take months and possibly up to a year to heal - if it ever did heal.   Some mentions of possible instances of surgical solutions without loss of sense of smell - but not sure how proven this path is.  My case seems to be getting worse - have finished a round of Cipro - but no improvement.  Have tried sudafed / Claratin / codeine cough syrup (some relief the following day for a few hours at most).  I also have been battling a case of Thrush (a fungal infection of the tongue / throat) for almost as long as the smoke smell (a result of the Prednisone) taken while sick.
Hope this helps.  Write me at:  ***@**** if you want to discuss further or have any news to share.  Thanks - Maggie
1 Comments
Funny thing is the internet says 1 in 15 suffer from this, I call BS. I've had bad allergies all my life and even endo sinus surgery 8 years ago and I just start smelling bad phantom smells after starting bystolic. I smell it at work, home and car.
Avatar universal
Sorry for the almost duplicate posting - not sure why I was unable to view it after the first posting - so I resubmitted with a few changes.
Avatar universal
for the last 6 years or so I have been getting these phantom smells .. but not smoking.. weird stuff like wet cement, the smell of baking,some unknown medicine.. sometimes they'll last for 6 months other times they're gone in a week. I have noticed them less often in the last year. My doctor thinks I'm nuts... I know what I smell. I don't have allergies of any kind and I'm in excellent health  and I can learn to live with the smell of fresh baked bread in my nostrils.. I mean it could be owrse.. still I think I should get someone to check this out especially as I read about Phantom smells being a possible side efect of brain tumors...
Avatar universal
well i had an mri and it showed nothing.  sometimes i think it's supplements i'm taking and other times i'm not sure.  didn't have it for a while and now it's back again.  sometimes i get eczema around my nose area and i think it's that. most times it starts in my office where they used to smoke inside and now smoke outside.  but as long as i don't have a tumor i'll live with it.
Avatar universal
I have been experiencing the smell of smoke for about one year now.  I noticed it when I was lying down at night before I went to sleep.  I thought the neighbour was smoking but everytime I'd go to the window to check, there wasn't any smoke smell coming in.  Then I'd lie down and it would come back.  I figured it was smoke coming through from the floor above (although I knew the folks upstairs didn't smoke).  It didn't have a distinctively cigarette, cigar, pipe, food, or marijuana smell but just something I described as "smokey".  I don't smoke and rarely do I burn something while cooking.  Recently, while travelling I got the smell again when going to sleep, so I knew it was something I was 'carrying' with me.  I have since returned home and still get that smell when I'm lying down, even in the day.  I don't know if I'm just noticing it more or if, in fact, it is increasing.
Avatar universal
Hey there, found this message board today after noticing the phantom smoke smell for the past week. The thing I notice I have in common with some of you is that I recently had a bad cold I caught while travelling. The talk of possibly being a symptom of neurological problems and brain tumors is worrisome since this coincided with me discontinuing a prescription of Lithium that was making me break out in acne. Anyone know if the two could be connected some how? I rarely have colds and don't have allergies per se. I do have mild sinus issues that are aggravated by changes in the weather, but nothing major at all. The smoke smell is driving me crazy!
Avatar universal
do you still having the problem with smelling smoke?  Any ideas on what to do?
Avatar universal
I'm glad I found this message board, I thought I was losing my mind.  I've been smelling some sort of burning for about six months now.  It comes and goes completely at random and at different severities.  When it started I thought it was the baby's diaper pail on fire.  Anyways, does anybody know if this is going to go away or if anything can be done?  
Avatar universal
I, like you have to being smelling smoke for about one year now. I have gone crazy trying to figure this out. When I try to explain this to people, I have said that I smell smoke. Just recently, I have narrowed the smell similar to that of mascara. Being that our eyes and nose are connected, I am wondering now if when my allergies bother me, somehow  the "residue" of the mascara goes into my nasal passage because my eyes burn to???? I have been to an ENT, no concern apparently for a CT scan. I have been to an allergist and he seems to think that my nasal area is being compromised by "something"...possibly chemicals??????????? I will post any further info and wish us all luck in finding the never ending solution.
Avatar universal
I started smelling cigarette smoke back in April when I finished taking some heavy-duty pain meds for a bad back sprain.  That is the only thing new or different that I introduced to my body.  Now ever since  then I will randomly smell smoke.  My family  thinks I m nuts but it is so real it is like someone sitting next to me smoking.   I have mild seasonal allergies.  I was prompted to get on the net and find out about "phantom smells" after watching and episode of "LOST".  They mentioned the symptoms of brain tumors as being headaches and phantom smells.  It really freaked me out because I am not a hypocondriac.  Is this something relatively new in this generation or has it been complained of for 100's of years?
Avatar universal
I think I am on to something!!!! I was at work the other day and spoke with a co-worker that I don't often see because of our different shifts. I explained to her that I was recently off work for a month because I would get burning eyes and an odd smell of smoke in my nose that seemed to happen only when I was at work. When I am off on vacation or days off, the smell of smoke would disappear after a couple days. We both were surprised when she to said that she has being experiencing this same smell of smoke. She to thought she was going crazy! Turns out, this smell of smoke began almost a year ago for both of us. To make a long story short, certain cleaning chemicals were removed from our work place. (floor stripper and baseboard stripper). Both these products are very harmful. Since the removal of these products, there has been NO smell of smoke for either of us!!!! For all you smoke smell sufferers, consider the cleaning products that you are being exposed to either at work, home and even in stores that have shiny floors. Just recently  and after being smoke free for a couple weeks, I was shopping in a department store and it began again for me. Sure enough, I looked down and saw a shiny floor and realized that this floor to gets waxed and stripped! And so you know........... once you are exposed, the smell does not disappear once you leave the area. For both me and my co-worker, it can remain in your system for up to 2 days before it completely disappears. Of course if you are continually exposed on a daily basis, you get no relief. It took me almost a year to figure this out. I hope that this information is helpful.
Avatar universal
wow!  cannot believe that i found others.  I have described it as if a ghost were following me around.  Something that smoked ciggys, either real harsh ones, or the regular kind that is smoked right up to the filter.  Stinging my eyes sometimes, it is so bad.  Doesn't seem  to matter WHERE I am, home, car, grocery store, or outside.  I have been afraid to talk to any doctors about it for fear of the 'you're nuts!" look.  After reading your comments, I am less afraid to make the leap and tell someone outside the family.
Avatar universal
Man, is it good to know I am not alone. I have been asking everyone around me if they can smell something liek cigarettes and no one ever smells anything. I have been thinking I was losing my mind. It does not matter where I am, home, work, the beach or the mall I feel like Im surrounded by people smoking when there actually isnt.  Yesterday it was so mad that I was light headed and dizzy, kind of off balance all day. So far this morning I feel fine but I know its just a matter of time before the smell is back. I do have a Dr appt to see what I can do so hopefully I can get some relief. This is enough to make ya want to climb the walls.
Avatar universal
I have been having this sensation of smelling or experiencing a burning acrid feeling in my nose for a few months. It isn't like a smell I can identify but the feeling one would get when smelling something like a burnt match or wet burnt wood maybe. I couldn't understand why others didn't smell it until I realized I was experiencing the samething at home, in the car and at work. I don't know if this is the same as what everyone here is talking about. I am trying to find some answers, I go to the Dr. Sept. 13th and want to be able to express this problem in a way that won't lead to dismissal.
Avatar universal
Same thing for me but I awaken from the smoke smell.  I have actually found people smoking outside a couple times, yet other times no.  3:30 am is the most common time for me to notice the smell.  I've been going outside to search for it.   Sad.  I live in a detached home in a decent neighbourhood.  My neighbour's son smokes in his garage.  I've been blaming him.  The times when he's not outside I blame my neighbour 2 doors down.  Let's face it, their cigarette smoke is not reaching through the cracks in my home.  It's me, something is wrong with me.  I was hit by a truck while driving on the highway a couple years ago.  Actually today is the 2 year anniversary.  My neck and shoulder are not normal anymore.  I ache and get headaches that shoot up my neck.  I had an mri to check my nerve involvement.  Now I have to find out more since I know I'm not inventing the smell.  I have been under an immense amount of stress and can't figure out this smoke thing.  It's only occassional.  Or, I'm just not waking up every time I smell it.  I actually feel a crackly throat the next day like I really   had smoke in my room.  I had a loser family living on the other  side who had a grow up going on in the house.  That is a totally different smell all together.  This is definitely coming from me.  
Avatar universal
i have been experiencing some smokey smells too but they are accompanied by tingling and ringing ears, i think its a brain tumor but my mum thinks thats ridiculous, but they match perfectly to a brain tumor, wat should i do? ( ive been to the doc's on a previous occasion and he said theres nothing wrong) but these sensations wont go away)
Avatar universal
I think you may be on to something.  I have experienced this off and on my entire life (I'm 34).  I notice that it is worse after going out in public.  When I was a teenager, I always associated this lasting cigarette smell in my nose with a trip to the mall.  I am looking this up right now because I just spent 4 days at a convention held in 3 hotels.  Both of those places are very likely to use the kinds of cleaning products you're talking about.  I've read all the theories on brain tumors, colds, and sinus infections.  I don't think those explain my problem since I don't have any other symptoms related to those things (and since I've had this smell problem my whole life).  I do have a condition where the pressure in my head is elevated for no apparant reason, but I don't really think that is related since no one else has mentioned it.  Typically, I will experience this cigarette smoke smell for a few days after being out in public and then it will go away.  I guess that I do notice it sometimes after travelling.  I guess I could have "picked up" the smell in the airport or in a hotel.  I think I'm going to keep a log and try to notice floors and surfaces.
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