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I smell exhaust fumes all the time

I have been smelling exhaust fumes where none exist for about 2 weeks now. I can be in the shower or laying in bed and the smell won't go away, it smells like i'm in an enclosed garage with a gas powered vehicle running. Is this common?, I have never had any allergies.
220 Responses
214105 tn?1265938759
Hopefully this will go away soon but if not you should see an ENT doctor (otolaryngologist).
Avatar universal
That's odd. I've heard of people smelling burning toast or marshmallows when they have a brain tumour but not this so I doubt it is what's wrong with you but I don't know for sure just haven't heard of this. Is it always in your home you smell it as you only described laying in bed or being in the shower I assume you mean in your home if that's the case it may not be medical issues you have it could just be an odour within the home get the gas company to send a guy out they have a device that detects gas in the air. If this sounds wrong then you probably should see a doctor also try cleaning your nostrils with a flannel it sounds silly but who knows you could have an oily substance on the hairs that you only smell sometimes when there is no other odours over powering it.
1337210 tn?1275784082
Jerry, I am astounded to find your recent query because I am just about to post the SAME DAMNED THING!
Have been totally perplexed by the smell of exhaust -- like walking past an idling bus, or being in a car that's burning oil that's got its heater/ blower turned on. Day, night, lying down, sitting up, with other people around, by myself, in the car, outdoors.
My situation has been going on constantly for the past week or so, but I think it is not the first time. But now, there seems to be a bit of a throat scratch with it, so I wonder if it is a sinus infection. I have heard it may be serious to experience olfactory hallucinations, but don't want to anticipate anything worse than this is.
Would like to keep in touch, and know how you've progressed since May. Thanks, Alice1952
It's uncanny, but I've been experiencing the exact same thing. It doesn't matter where I am, in my home, outside, in the car at others homes.
We'd just bought a new car and having the flu at the time, was when I first started experiencing this and thought nothing of it. At first it smelt like burning engine oil, but for they past 2 weeks it's smells like exhaust fumes. The odd thing is, I can't smell or taste anything. One thing I can taste is salt. Odd as it sounds
I had this too one time. It is a vitamin B defiency. I bought the combined kind took them & the odor went away. Years later here I am smelling dirt now when I inhale. Guess I should try vitamins again.
Avatar universal
The condition is called phantosmia.  It is not "normal", but it is a named medical condition.

It is usually caused by  some sort of trauma or a sinus infection or other upper respiratory illness.  Tumors are another possible cause, but not always.  Exhaust is not a typical odor to experience, but burning wood is very normal. Exhaust is a close smell.  

As the first poster said, you should see an ENT to rule out any serious problems.  Few drs are familiar with this disease, so you might want to do some research and print out a few articles before you head to a dr's office.

I hope that helps you all some.  Here's to better smelling.
Avatar universal
For the past few weeks, I have been smelling exhaust fumes, at home, at night while working on my hobby.  Now, today the odor has hit me while at work.  I don't have any sinus pain.  At home I thought it was a car outside, since the windows were open.  Another thought, some one was burning wood in a fire pit (in the neighborhood).  Now at work, 3 floors up?
Avatar universal
I have been smelling something ever once in a while just while I'm in my house though.  I can't really describe the smell except to me it smells like charcoal.  It seems like I notice it more when I'm around my computer, but then I can also smell it in the living room and when I go to bed sometimes.  This has been going on for over a year, but I only notice it when I'm at home.  I just wander if there is some chemical in my house.  It has to be hidden somewhere, because I have used all toxic-free cleaning products and laundry products for over 15 years.  I even have an air purifier in my house.
Avatar universal
teddilvr and alice1952 are experiencing the exact smell I do, i'll bet when they breath in fast they do not get the "exhaust smell", and while breathing in slowly it's the strongest before I've filled my lungs.. it's not burning rubber, or wood or pennies or marshmallows  (like some have reported) its definitely the smell of gasoline engine (not diesel either) exhaust, if you've ever started a car in a garage then you know exactly what we are smelling, also this happens in places other than my home. what's funny is to read forums from people that think this is nonsense or think it's just superhuman smell like a dog has, I've read about a dozen cases from all over different sites where people smell the EXACT SAME SMELL. Like I said, I've never had allergies or migraines and I doubt it's a brain tumor either this has been going on for months now...My doctor has never heard of this or had another patient with this anomaly.  Thanks for the forum to discuss this with others in the same boat I'm in.  Jerry
Avatar universal
I just started this afternoon, having the exhaust smell, and scratchy throat. It seems that I can even taste it. I went outside to see if there was a running car sitting in front of my house.  I've never had this before and I'm not having any other issues.
Orange County, California
Avatar universal
I thought I was crazy....lol.......I have been smelling exhaust fumes in my room for the last 2 hours and I've had a headache with a sore throat coming on and I'm very tired. I do smoke, but, have been over-sensitive to smells since my car accident Nov 2005 which caused a bad flare up of my CFS/ME. I'm afraid to sleep cuz I think there is a carbon monoxide in the house I live in. The guy who owns the house has old appliances & hasn't changed the furnace filter for 3 or 4 years, plus, the furnace he was told Oct 2006 needed to be replaced but he refused to do so. So, I don't know if my smelling exhaust fumes is sinus, tumor or actually a carbon monoxide leak. Anyone have any theories?
Avatar universal
I smell exhaust fumes too and I'm on oxygen.  I've been wondering if an exhaust smell could be coming from it, but it's electric and makes the oxygen I breathe.  I've been smelling it for months.  Tonight I told my husband I smelled exhaust, he said he did not, I asked him to put on my oxygen to see if he could smell it, he did not smell it at all.  I don't have a sinus infection but this smell does give me a headache as if I were literally smelling automobile exhaust.  I'm glad to know it has a name, now I need to know what it is and what causes it.  I want to get rid of it, it's very "exhausting"  literally.  Couldn't resist.  We have to find a bit of humor or go nuts trying to figure out what, where etc.  Thanks for listening/reading.
Avatar universal
These are indeed, in all likelihood, smog or car fumes from traffic outside your home at peak hours seeping in your roof, walls and through windows. You aren't imagining it. Usually sweet smells from benzene are being trapped in carpet and leather in your home. Welcome to our still oil based society.
Yeah, nah, I live in the country so what I should be normally smelling is dry stock, grass, silt and/or flowers. I can't smell any of what I've written, I have no taste buds either.
Avatar universal
Problem solved, The smell of exhuast fumes are from a sinus infection. I know it happened to me. The smell came up in August, then went away. Now its back and my sinuses are really acting up, enough to make an appt. with an ENT specialist.
1355118 tn?1298568479
Hi, smelling exhaust fumes or such strange smell can be present in certain conditions and it is termed as Parosmia (abhorrent odor perception).

It is usually associated with rhinosinusitis, head trauma, viral infection, or oral problems.

It frequently disappears with successful treatment of the above mentioned conditions.

Apart from treatment of the cause or in conditions wherein the cause remains unknown, in such conditions Anti seizure or anti epileptic medication like clonazepam against prescription is sometimes helpful esp. in persistent cases.

You can use scented wax or incense sticks before sleeping. You also need to maintain good sleep hygiene.

I suggest you to consult ENT specialist to rule out the cause. Take care and regards.
At first I blamed the smell on the metal stent I have in my bile duct,that's been causing havoc and needs to be removed. But I've also no taste buds either.
So it's handy to know I need to go see the quack
Avatar universal
Dr. Rajput, Thank you for your time and consideration.  After taking a sublingual drug for 4 years my teeth started becoming brittle and breaking off at the gumline, I also had a good case of gingivitis.  I ended up having all my teeth pulled and now I'm wearing dentures.  Ever since my oral surgury 3 months ago the smell has gone away, I think I agree with you when you mentioned "oral problems". I am amazed with the human body and the things that the brain can interpret causing different senses to be affected.  Again, I appreciate your time and if you ever decide to set up a practice in the Los Angeles California area you've definitly got another patient.....Jerry M.
Avatar universal
Well, it's good to know I'm not crazy, I've been having this exhaust smell now for about nine months.  People have told me it might be due to my thyroid being messed up but my thyroid levels are normal with the thyroid meds I'm on.  I can't get rid of the smell and sometimes I do have sinus pain.  This smell is constant, at home, work, all day, all night and to the point it's giving me a headache almost constantly. I'm going to definitely ask my doctor if she's heard of this disease although when I explained it to her, she said there was nothing wrong and that it was odd that I would be having this smell of exhaust.  And no it's not burning wood, marshmallows, coal, whatever....it's like a put a cars exhaust pipe in my nose and I'm sniffing the fumes.  Horrible! Thank you all for posting!
Avatar universal
THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT i HAVE BEEN SMELLING  SINCE YOURS WAS A MONTH AGO WHAT HAS THE DR SAID IF YOU WENT sorry it was in caps  please let me know an thank you I thought it was just me  ***@****
Avatar universal
Wow, I started smelling exhaust fumes a couple of months ago and I thought it was my van. Then it was in my car, and then I started smelling it in the house and in odd places like a restaurant. I just decided to google it and came upon this forum. Glad to know I'm not going crazy but I have no other symptoms like a sinus infection, headaches or sore throat. Did have a couple of migraines recently (vision problems) which rarely occur otherwise. I'm due for a physical and I'll get it checked at that time.
Avatar universal
Well, I have had the same phantom smell of gas exhaust fumes for the last 3 to 4 months At first I thought it was neighborhood gardener's gas blowers but then I started experiencing it at night when no gardeners were around. What I can say for sure is it is not related to an older home, carbon monoxide, older appliancesa gas leak etc....because I moved 2 months ago with all new appliances and I still am experiencing the smell. It is not constant but intermittant and seems to be worse at night. Like someone commented in an earlier post if I breathe in very quickly through my nose I don't smell it and I don't smell it for maybe for a minute or two afterwards even breathing thru my nose but it returns within several minutes. I'm in my early 50's and not prone to allergies, but as I age I'm continually surprised by sensations etc. In my body that I was never aware of before...signs of wear. I don't smoke and don't have a history of headaches or migraines.  I am curious to learn from other posters if this phenom iis just happening to those of us who are middle age or if younger people are experiencing it...and if anyone remembers its onset as coming after a bad headcold or
sinusitis?  It helps to know I'm not alone...or a wacko!
Avatar universal
Wow - thank you i'm not wierd.  Thought I was going a bit loopy.  I've been experiencing this "exhaust fume" odour for the last week or so now.  I've had no illness recently, though i'm wondering if its to do with lack of sleep.  I'm a freight train driver and have been working some strange shifts in the middle of the night for the last 10days or so now.  With family at home its always hard to get a decent unbroken sleep.  So i'm averaging about 5hrs a day or so.  Though i've had times like this before with that kind of sleep pattern and can never recall this odour.  I have 6 days off soon so i wonder with a proper sleep over a few nights if this will go away.  I shall keep you informed.   Singforsupper i have just turned 35
I smelt fumes after a period of 7 weeks with too little sleep, so I think you could be right about sleep deprivation causing this symptom.
Avatar universal
Wow, unbelievable this many experiencing the same phantom exhaust fumes smell ... Me > Just as if  I started my car in the garage with the door down and laid down right next to the exhaust pipe!  Sometimes it's like I went ahead and stuck my whole nose in the flipping pipe! Everywhere I go! For at least 2 days now ... and nope, never had allergies..., nope, haven't had a cold in at least a year ... nope, never had a sinus infection ... nope, no dental issues (that I'm aware of) ... nope, don't live near a lot of traffic (besides, that wouldn't explain the fumes following me everywhere I go.... like a 30 story office building ... the gym ... mountains hiking, shower etc)  and nope, no one else around me smells a thing!!  

Haven't had a sore throat or burning eyes, or any other pain yet, but definitely have headaches (which I thought was due to vision tension or stress), still I've only taken aspirin to help.  Haven't taken antibiotics in yrs.  Eat yogurt every morning.  I DO take Wellbutrin daily and have for over 15 yrs.  I also take Staterra daily for approx 4 yrs now.  Never experienced anything like this before!!  Also, I've had no strange tastes yet.  

Everything else seems normal .... all with the exception of this freakin' "Ghost exhaust" that follows me everywhere.  Oh, except I DO have a slight tingling going on in my left arm on occasion, which I always attributed to a bad snowboarding wipeout a few yrs back, when I injured some left shoulder ligaments.  If it doesn't go away in a few days, I guess I'll have to call my Dr. but NOT looking forward to THAT at all, as I usually wait 'til I'm at least half dead before I call her!  Still, this is almost unbearable, and its only been a few days for me.... can't imagine how you who've been going through this for yrs are dealing with this... OMG just thinking about it is nausiating.  I'll check in to see if there's any news on this in a week or so.  
Until then, take care my fellow lightheads.

Perplexed-Lightheaded-And-Not-In-That-One-Way <<(PLANITOW)
ps ...Fem/40's/athletic/mom of one/living in NoCal
Avatar universal
I smell exhaust fumes too! 04/03/11

I have been smelling exhaust smell for the past 3 to 4 weeks as well, and it's not just my house. I did go to my doctor and I do have sinusitis so he prescribed me antibiotics. I didn't mention it to my doctor at the time because I simply forgot. Now, I am hoping that it does go away once I get better. I will keep you posted.

Avatar universal
I just started smelling fumes a few days ago while staying in a hotel. It smelled like a gallon of gas was poured all over the room. I can even taste it.  I showered, put all of my clothes, shoes and everything in the car and I still smelled it. I called the front desk and and had someone come and check the room and they said they didn't smell anything. I thought I was going crazy or something. I hate that some of you have this symptom but I'm glad I'm hearing that other people have had this happen. I go to the doctor Friday and I'll post what he says.
Avatar universal
I (39) have the same since 3 weeks. Do you think it will ever end?
Avatar universal
I have smelled exhaust fumes off and on for a couple of years now. Sometimes i smell it for weeks and weeks then it just disappears only to return a few months later. Has anyone had feed back from their doctor or been successfully treated for it? I mentioned it to my doc while I was there for something else and she looked at me like I was schizophrenic and went on with the other thing we were discussing. I would love to hear from someone who has had it diagnosed and treated. Thanks!
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