Neurology Community
44.9k Members
Avatar universal


I'm pretty sure my husband has hyperosmia.  His entire life (not a traumatic event), he has had an extreme sense of smell.  He can tell ingredients of perfumes foods pretty much anything.  One day at a work lunch at noon I had a rum and diet soda with lunch.  It is very rare (maybe once a year if at all) that this happens.  I didn't see him until I got home that night after 11 PM.  He could smell the rum on my breath when I gave him a kiss that night.  I had had lunch with the drink, later I had a snack ate dinner, drank water and soda in the time period since I had the drink at lunch.  He doesn't like to go into the city, since he smells the urine in the street.  If i need to give further examples I will happily do so.

His heightened sense of smell is affecting his life.  He would much rather be normal.  He works in sales, and if a client has halatosis or bad body odor he really suffers.  We live near the interstate, and depending on teh direction of the wind he gets sick sometimes from the smell of the asphalt/tires/cars on the freeway.  I have tried and I can't smell anything- I've asked friends if they could smell anything, and no one has said yes yet.  He always just thought it was something he had to live with.

His sense of smell is driving me crazy.  If we are talking he will ask me to go brush my teeth or use listerine.  I do not have exceptionally bad breath, I am normal- I checked with my dentist.  

He asked me if there was any way to lessen his sense of smell, and I thought cauterization of his nose might be an option.  I also saw online that Topamax could be used as well.  I haven't been able to find very much information about it- apparently Hyperosmia is not very common.

Are there any treatments?

If so, what type of doctor would be able to help?  ENT?  Neurology?  I have no idea.

Thank you for any help/suggestions you can give.

66 Responses
Avatar universal
Wow, this is amazing.  I, too, am very sorry for everyone who has been suffering.  

For as long as I can recall, I've had hypersensitivity to smells.  I can smell silk, can detect types of minerals in dirt, am an accurate sommelier (wine taster), and can identify people by their body scent alone.  Unfortunately like many of you, I also suffer from debilitating headaches.

Three years ago I was at my end.  I went for an MRI, CT scan, nerve studies and had extensive bloodwork for my headaches.  They were not classified as migraines, clusters or allergies so no medicines were prescribed.  I still suffer today.  Some days I vomit from the pain.  Other days are much better, but the pain is always there.

It is only now that I read this thread that the posibility of the two is linked in my mind.  It took a while, but man am I glad I read all of the posts.  

I will visit an ENT to see what can be done.  Thank you Darrylfl for your story.

Best to everyone and good luck
Avatar universal
I to have hyperosmia. I can smell EVERYTHING. I remember when I was a kid, stinky perfumes would set me off but not much else. Now it seems anything can set me off, usually ending in a migraine. I currently work in an office with 4 people. One of them is Epileptic so she understands, my office mate is thankfully understanding, but the other 2 just don't get it. ! even swears she doesn't wear perfume at all, but I can still smell her 50 feet away with my back to her. I know when she is coming because I smell her perfume. I don't know what caused this, but I do have Arnold Chiari Malformation. I have not known seen smell sensitivity on the symptoms list, but know other Chiarians with the same condition. I have had the surgery to fix Chiari and it still didn't fix the smell thing so I really don't know if they are related or not.

I hope they find something to fix this, because 20 years is ENOUGH!
Avatar universal
My family jokingly calls my nose the "Super Smeller!"  I--like many of you--can smell everything.
I have researched ways to diminish my sense of smell because it interferes with my relationships.
My husband loves cats, but I cannot bear to have a litterbox in the house.  He got an automatic one and placed it in the furthermost part of the house, but I could not stand it.  I gag and almost vomit and no one else can smell anything.
The worst is that my husband and I have not had sex in 6 months.  We would go away to a hotel with a hot tub and sit in the chlorinated water for an hour before becoming intimate to solve our intimacy issues.  I guess the chlorine removed any body odors.  

To further complicate things, he has health issues that cause erectile dysfunction problems.  I have almost vomited while trying to help him become aroused.  To make matters worse, he has a damaged sense of smell due to exposure to chemicals in the military.  I smell everything--he smells hardly anything.  
He cannot understand why I am not able to do the things he desires sexually.  I have actually bathed him myself prior to our sleeping together so that I might be able to please him.
I know  this all sounds ridicoulous, but I feel desparate.  How can I say to him that he smells so bad to me that I cannot be intimate with him?
Avatar universal
Not sure if its worth adding my 2 cents but I also have a super sensitive nose. I have always been sensitive but over the past 6 months it is starting to get out of control.

If I am asleep I wake up when any smell is detected and the faintest fumes from a nearby factory really spark it off in the mornings.
I do seem most sensitive from about 4am to 9am for some reason.

When driving if there is a car way ahead on the freeway with someone smoking - I can smell it with all the windows closed. Smoke seriously makes me physically ill. Nobody understands it.

If I walk into a supermarket I can detect mouldy bread from meters away.

I cant use spray on deodorant any more. The chemicals in the spray make me sick. (using roll on now)

Perfumes make me ill and some scented moisturisers too.

Jet fuel from passing planes (there is also an airport close-by and when the aircraft are under maximum thrust during take-off they expel excess fuel into the air.. so sickening)

Lemon grass scent is a gagger for me.. so is certain roasted nuts or seeds (so weird).

Overall I would say anything that decays or is toxic in some way causes me the worst issues. I can't even take the bin out without hurling.. Everyone thinks I am just making excuses.

A few other strange things that started about the same time are:
Allergy to certain plastics (especially on supermarket baskets or trolleys)
Unless I am just allergic to other people. My hands swell up and go red.
I have had unexplained ear ache for months but all tests come back negative. This has also brought on some nice Tinnitus.
And finally some on/off kidney pain that also comes back negative on tests.

Everyone including doctors just think I am insane. I was prescribed long term anti-depressants for it all my symptoms.. I mean what the heck! I am not depressed and it doesn't get me down. Its just annoying.
Avatar universal
hi i have same smell problems, i smell everything every where and can not find any help to stop smells, docters and people think i'm crazy...is there any operations to stop smells? thanks
Avatar universal
I have found a clinic in lacrosse wisconsin that can help anyone who is suffering with hyperosmia
Avatar universal
Just got started reading and could not stop.  I have a terrible time with being sensitive to smells... perfume, incense, candles, etc.  People think I am whining but my lips burn and I have trouble thinking straight.  It is good toknow that I am not the only one with this problem.  I didn't even know it had a name until today.  
Avatar universal
I started experiencing hyper sensitivity 10 years ago to animals, chemicals, (perfume) smoke, body odors, foods, dust.
I never had these problems before, having had a dog, while growing up and a parent that was a chain smoker and we had carpeting throughout our home. I used to eat peanut butter all of the time and now am highly allergic (having had anaphlaxis attacks 3 times) to peanut oil in foods Dust is very difficuolt for me to tolerate and I get asthma attacks from it. Does anyone else experience these problems and what can be done to alter my lifestyle to become more normal?
Avatar universal
I am sorry for all of you, but relieved I am not alone.  I have had extra sensitive senses all of my life...hearing, sight, taste, smell, touch, yet I've been able to tolerate pain well if I set my mind to it.  I used to get teased in grade school that I could grow up and get a job as a bloodhound for the police, find missing people and sniff out drugs, etc.  When I garden, I smell red ants, which comes in handy, because they bite if you disturb their nest.  I could never tolerate the smell of exhaust fumes, so you know the older cars did not offer recirculate the air feature, so just about every other car on the road in front of us made me choke, my eyes burn and swell up with tears, give me a sore throat for days and often vomit.  I tried to join friends when I was older as a passenger for a motorcycle ride, and the awful exhaust smell made me sick for days afterwards like a severe allergic reaction.  If I am within 50 feet of a smoker, I begin to cough, and that's just the smell left on their clothing, hair and breath, not even a lit cigarette.  If I am exposed to the smoke, even 50 feet away, I totally lose my voice for days.  If I walk down the sidewalk by a house with windows open, I can tell you exactly what pets they own, especially cats or rodents, or if they smoke, or if someone is a mechanic, or if they have a vinyl shower curtain hanging in their bathroom.  I can tell you what cleaning products they use or what they had for dinner last night.  If someone within about 20 feet of me drank an alcoholic beverage the day before, I can tell you what they drank, and I have to keep my distance because to me they reek of fermentation, and I will upchuck if I smell them more than a few seconds.  I am constantly hitting the recirculate button in my Ford, and it really ticks me off that they won't let that thing stay on once you set it, but it shuts off and I immediately start gagging at the smell of the nasty car or truck fumes driving in front of my car.  I rarely can have windows open in my car or home, something always stinks, fumes, smoke, pollution, trash, it just makes me so nauseated and my nose and eyes swell up.  I can't go into old homes, as soon as their heater kicks on my eyes swell shut and I cough and get sick.  I have trouble shopping in stores because the smell of plastic makes me vomit and gives me a headache that lasts for days.  I have found that the smells that hurt me the most are plastic, gas, engine exhaust, chemical, new carpet, oil base paints, varnishes, glues and some foods like onions, meats, anything fried or processed.  While I have always been like a human Bloodhound, after I had chemo that was so severe it put me in the hospital in 2005, my super sensitivity has become unbearable.  It has affected my entire life in every aspect.  I have gone to a Chinese herbalist, and I tried Butterbur, as well as an herbal oil I put on a Q tip and sort of line the inside of my nose with, that does help slightly some days.  This really hurts my ability to work, I am a realtor, and I have opened the door to some homes, hit with a horrid odor, and unable to go inside!  I have had to let the clients go in while I wait outside, because I can't handle the stench.  Last week they had a bus tour, it is the 2nd one I tried, and both times the diesel fumes of the bus made me ill, vomit and have migraines that lasted days.  The past couple days with all of the wind have been unbearable, and I've been basically stuck at home, miserable with yet another migraine.  I took Butterbur and cooked turnip greens, and just tried my best to get through the day without throwing up.  What a way to live.  I am going to try accupuncture next week.  I've been told I have fibromyalgia, brought on by my the 2005 cancer treatment, since I have never really bounced back from that.  I am also super sensitive to medicines, too, so I do not want to get on the "drug merry go round" with the doctors, and that seems to be their cure all...take this pill or that pill.  I tried a couple and all they did was make me sick, vomit or have awful side effects.  I can take Aleve or Aspirin, that's about it.  Oh, by the way, chemo really makes your sense of smell acute, I was in sensory agony for the months I had to do chemo, and EVERYTHING stunk or tasted bad.  If you have super senses already, pray you don't have to go through chemo, it REALLY makes your senses even more acute, if you can imagine that.  So anyway, sorry to sound like a complainer, but I usually keep all of this to myself since most folks do not understand, and it is a relief to find others that can relate.  Thank you for listening.  I am in Delaware, and I would not mind a fellow "Bloodhound" saying hello.
Avatar universal
i have just developed this hyperosmia a couple of weeks ago, i started on thyroid med and since then i sense of smell has increased dramatically. it doesn't bother me except when i am around perfumes, especially heavy, musky, spicy perfumes and then my sinuses burn as if i had inhaled ammonia. i have alos noticed when this happens i start to get hives on my forearms. i only took the med for a week. my allergist has not been a help so i am going to an ent next week. the worse of it is the burning, i can deal with headaches and pressure but the burning is driving me mad. i also have a deviated septum and allergies since i was a child, especially allergic to mountain cedar, ragweed, trees, grass, mold, pretty much any botanical item i come across. flowers...makes me miserable. i thought about the cauterising surgery that they perform in your nose, at thid point i will try anything to relieve the burning in my sinuses. april
Avatar universal
I am the same,  can cook a roast, eat it, but when I go to wash the dishes, start gagging and dryreaching.  Body Odor sends me off as well and I have resorted to carrying a spray with me and spraying it when body odor is detected.  Public Toilets are also a nightmare for me.  Wish we could find a cure as it drives my husband crazy when I spray around the house, in the bed and in public.
596605 tn?1369950227
I lost most of my sense of smell when I had surgery to my skull base.

The ENT surgeon was patching up a small csf leak that I had. He went through my nasal cavity and up through my sinuses to the base of the skull using endoscopic tools.

Anyways he told me that there is a part of the skull base for sense of smell behind your sinuses that is a bit thinner and he described it kije a cheese grater.

I'm not sure but would think that if your problem is REALLY bad you could see an ENT surgeon? Maybe a surgical procedure could be done if you are to a point where you can't even leave your house because of you sense of smell being so strong.

Good luck!
Avatar universal
Hi raq123,

Can please you let me know the name of the clinic in Lacrosse?

Thank you!
Avatar universal
i would also like to know the name of the clinic in lacrosse, as i am from eau claire and suffering from this. doctors look at me like im crazy, and im tired of it. thank you
Avatar universal
I remember as a young teenager waking up feeling like I couldnt breath after my brother sprayed deodorant in the bathroom outside our bedroom. I smoked for several years, but could not stand to be in a smoke filled room. The smell of any pet is sickening to me, as is perfume, hair spray,lotion, finger nail polish, and remover, i can even taste it! You name it, it affects me. Any food that is burnt (specially toast) any strong food. Paint, fuels, I could go on and on. It really causes problems with my wife, any time I complain she gets mad, and I am the one who cant breath! Go Figure!
Avatar universal
To all who suffer with this disorder (or odor should i say), I have this problem as well..and I believe it got worse when I got my nose pierced a few years back. Since then I no longer wear a nose ring ( accidentally snatched it out while sleeping ....major ouch effect) the problem is still here! I am the one who smells bad breath, body odors, periods, poop and urine, animals, bugs,  garbage etc. I don't really have a problem with perfumed things such as colognes, candles, and such nor foods as I do enjoy them. I like to drink wine now and again but hate the way it smells. My husband was shot in the face when he was eight years old and the bullet went through his nasal area so his sense of smell isn't so great. It causes conflict at times because I seem like the nagging wife when I ask him to shower often (he is super hairy by the way) or brush his teeth. He also rides a scooter sometimes and I smell the fumes on him as soon as we come in contact! He cant smell it like I can and I get so frustrated when he is insensitive to my problem. Its hard to b intimate with him when I am wondering if I am going to smell a bad odor or not. He bathes daily sometimes more than once if I ask but its so bad (my disorder ) that I want to bathe him myself and dictate how he brushes his teeth. Ugh!  I hate being able to smell everything all of the time and just wish that I had a normal sense of smell.
Avatar universal
I have had a severe heightened sense of smell for about 1 1/2 years now and I am 51.

I had stereotactic radiation surgery to an AVM in my cerebellum in 1999.  About 4 months after the radiation, I had my very first, "migraine"  and suffered for over a decade, having to stop my profession.  

Interestingly, although it can bring on a migraine lickety split, the migraines have gotten less frequent over time but the odors and smells!  It is terrible.

I can tell what kind of hair spray my husband has put on when I am in the kitchen, even before he has come down the stairs in the other room.  I cannot even walk by a candle shop.  Pefume and cologne...I gag and I have to say something...usually saying I am allergic.  Sometimes now, I do start coughing.  In fact, I have also noticed that I constantly have something in my throat and have to constantly clear it.  I sometimes feel as though I am going to gag when I try to eat and speak.  

Wish I knew what was causing this.  Wish the medical profession did.
Avatar universal
I have hyperosmia too, but I guess it's not the same as for everyone else here, since for the most part, I really enjoy it. I love walking down the street at night and finding the night blooming flowers well before I can see them (people think I'm crazy if they're hidden behind a fence until I find them so they can see!). I love the bacterial smell of wet soil, the sweetness of snapped leaves, the ozone scent of lightening. I can conjure up in my memory most any place I have visited as a "scent picture" and I'm sure that given access to the right chemicals, I could recreate for the whole world the special damp mossy little patch of soil near the front door of my childhood home, with the spicy/bitter cinereria flowers and slightly mouldering wood under the porch. I have smoked for 22 years - I gave up for 3 months a year ago and it all got so much more intense, to the point that yes, wandering around amongst the general public was pretty disgusting at times, the mixed miasma of sour acrid armpits, goatlike damp wool socks, rancid scalp oil, cheesy feet and fish - market smells from other women (not to mention the slightly sweet, meaty/rotten coppery tang of not so well contained monthlies) however I did enjoy knowing when stores I walked past had new merchandise (packing tape! you guys know how it reeks) and being able to close my eyes and know where the flower shop was even if I couldn't see it. I do get migraines, but I've not been able to work out what sets them off. I also sometimes quite enjoy smells that others may find offensive simply because they're interesting, and I try not to judge scents on a good/bad continuum and just allow them to be what they are - information about the world around me. I did get some strange looks a while ago when I left a note in the bathrooms at my work asking the obviously dehydrated person to please drink more water though! I guess I'm really lucky that I'm not sickened by all the scents around me like so many others with a heightened sense of smell! I do think that other people are pulling my leg though when they literally have a thing under their noses and say "it has no smell" - my party trick at work these days is to point to where the lemon disinfectant is without looking up, but I find it hard to believe that I'm so unique - it's as clear as a sound or a light!  
Avatar universal
I could have typed this word for word.  You have expressed everything i have been feeling my whole life.  I love the smells that recreate good memories in my life, but people's breath is driving me out of my mind. A new co worker reeks of onions every day. I loathe that woman.  I'm so sick of smelling onions on her I could scream! I have tried to quit smoking too, but the smell of people's breath from across the room are too unbearable. I'm so sick of smelling garlic on breaths of others!  If a family member eats mexican I cannot bear to be in the house with them for 3-4 days.  I feel your pain...
Avatar universal
I have the Mcs also about five years and I can` t work any more. I was working in graphic industry 18 years.
If any one like to know more of my "life" with MCS please sent me an mail to:      gregor.***@****

Regards! Gregor
Avatar universal
My mom has the same problem with extreme sensitivity to smells, and it is effecting her mental health, and her relationship with my dad.  

It started after she had brain surgery for epilepsy, almost a year ago, and when she started to heal, she could smell everything to a degree that she could taste smells, and her tongue would swell.  

My dad said she could smell a fart in a hurricane!!

I thought this was something that would eventually run its course with her still healing, but I don't think it's getting any better, and after all she and my dad have been through, I don't want to see her suffer with this when it seems to me like it could easily be treated..  

I have researched the entire web, and can't believe that there are this many people experiencing the same exact thing, and there is no cure, and doctors haven't a clue of what to do about it..  

Last night I was on the phone with my mom, and I could tell she was really depressed, and it sounds like my dad is tired of hearing it, and just wants her to suck it up, and stop complaining about all the smells that bother her.
Being on the outside looking in, I know my dad has cared for her my whole life, and went through hell, and back waiting for her to recover from this operation, and now this!!  

This is a reality for her every day, and she is suffering.  

Please find a cure for this!!  
Avatar universal
I too have the smell of a hound dog and I absolutely hate it. If someone at work had been drinking the night before, I can smell it and tell them if they were drinking beer or liquor. Some perfumes, literally, make me throw up and I have a hard time with smells from food cooked in my kitchen. I also have 2 dogs and sometimes I smell them and I get nauseaus. there has also been many times where I have had to tell my husband to please take a shower because the deodorant, aftershave or cologne he is wearing makes me ill. I work in retail and have had to go in the back because of people smelling so bad, but the bad thing is no one else ever smells it!! I can smell if something is burning way before anyone else and can even smell what people are about to eat for lunch without them opening the bag. I do smoke cigarettes, but only outside because I can't stand to be enclosed with cigarette smoke. I HATE living like this and no doctor can explain it. Some smell make me physically ill. My husband and best friend think its hilarious but I think it is a horrible way to live.
Avatar universal
I am so sorry for your mom.  I, too, am living my life with Hyperosmia and it is ruining my marriage and my children's lives.  I have lost the ability to tolerate any type of laundry detergent smell as well as air freshness and any type of fragrance whatsoever.  It is a living nightmare and the doctors want me to take anti-anxiety medication.  At this point, I will try anything, but I feel like they are just popping a pill into me without realizing that something else is truly wrong.  I am astounded by the number of completely healthy and engaged people who have been removed from a productive life because of this disorder.  I sure hope your Mom heals.  Take good care.
Avatar universal
I can tell you that you are not alone.  I began having these smell issues about 4 years ago after suffering a particularly difficult cold and flu season.  Some doctors do believe that heightened smell and chemical sensitivity are due to a retrovirus that has damaged the central nervous system.  Other doctors don't believe it truly exists.  It is so sad to see so many people affected by this and I hate what my life is becoming.  I hate that it is ruining my husbands life, my children's life, my life.  It is scary the more you read about it.  It seems that it actually gets progressively worse and I am terrified of that.  I was a very enthusiastic, loving, engaged and fun community member/mother/wife/neighbor, etc and now an can't stand to be around anyone unless they follow a very very strict NO FRAGRANCE policy.  
I sure do hope you are able to heal and I wish you the best.
Avatar universal
I am EXACTLY in your situation and losing my quality of life very quickly.  If you are still watching these threads, please reply with how you are doing!  Thanks!
Avatar universal
I can't thank you enough for sharing all of your symptoms and information.  My situation is similar, though also different, and I am getting no help.  I suffered terribly 4 years ago with a cold and flu season that I honestly believe is what started chemical sensitivity for me.  I was a healthy, active, engaged, loving, intelligent member of our community and today I can barely stand to go out of the house because everything smells - everything.  I can't breathe if I get a whiff of perfume, febreeze, laundry detergent, hair spray, hair gel, etc.  any man-made chemical makes me short of breath (I've had asthma for decades) and instantly irritable and disoriented.  My quality of life is plummeting and my husband and kids are suffering greatly.  The only solution any doctor has for me is to take anti-anxiety medication.  I have never had issues with mental illness and I am ready to try anything, but Ai just don't think that's what it is.  I found your information quite useful and will take it to my doctor to see if it is something that might be an option for me.
Thank you and I pray you will heal.
Avatar universal
Hi.  I know your post is very old, but I just wonder how you are doing.  I newly found this board and am so encouraged that I am not alone!  I can't believe how many of us there are and I can't imagine the medical field can keep ignoring this!
Avatar universal
I am a fellow bloodhound in Maryland and I am miserable.  I love that you whined and complained because I feel the same way and no one ever wants to hear it.  My ordeal began roughly 4 years ago after having a very rough cold and flu season.  I started noticing that my asthma, usually brought on by only cigarette smoke, cats and exercise, was worsening with laundry detergent.  Then air freshners.  Then lotion.  Then deodorants.  Then shampoo.  Now, I cannot tolerate any artificial fragrance - none.  If it is a natural smell, I am fine.  I, too, detect every smell in ever open window.  Honest to god I can detect febreeze with the door closed as I approach a home that uses it.  My hyper smell is destroying my ability to work and have any type of normal social life.  The doctors think I am in need of counseling and anti-anxietymedication.  I am at the end of my rope and Wilma to try anything, but I just wish they would realize that I now my own body and this is not what is going on!  I feel for you and am so happy that I am not alone!
Avatar universal
Unfortunately have exactly the same headaches and had temporary hypersomia due to being exposed to chemical warfare agent multiple times.I won't go into the details of the chemical right now because I'm not 100% sure what it was. Suffice it to say it was pretty nasty.

Hypersomia went away 34 hours later but have pain exactly as you describe.

Pain in nose and septum haven't. Feels a little crawly up through the sinus's is all I can say. Discomfort pain in morning. Exactly same headaches as you described. Started very bad in back of head then radiated forward. Now entirely nose , septum area.

MRI shows polyps through maxillary sinus.
Having nasal septum pain and painful eyes.

If you've had any new info let me now.
Avatar universal
I am so glad I have found this forum, and so many people who seem to be suffering like me (though I wouldn't wish this on anyone). As I type this I am struggling with more cooking smells at home. My husband doesn't understand how truly vile I find these smells-particularly the smell of meat cooking for some reason-I think he thinks I am making it all up. I have suffered with migraines for many years, and wonder if this has permanently affected my sense of smell. At least I know that I am not alone, and not a freak! I also realise that there may well not be anything I can do about this. But thanks everyone, from a fellow sufferer in the UK.
Avatar universal
I believe this is what I have too, however my situation is a little different. I've always had sinus issues and allergies (environmental). About 5 years ago my husband & I got a Pug Puppy. The second day we had had him, I put him on my chest and it was like something flew up my nose and I've never been the same! I can't sleep, it's like I'm so hypersensitive to his scent that my nose actually feels cleared out! I have not congestion what so ever. I've had allergy testing done and I'm not allergic to dogs. Has anyone experienced this. I don't want to get rid of my dog, I want to find the root cause. I've tried everything and nothing works. I take OTC sleeping pills to get some sleep.
Avatar universal
Can you please share the oil you use on the q tip? Thank you
Avatar universal
Hello All, I thought I sent this msg a few minutes ago!  I knew on the first day of school--first grade, that my nose was different.  I smelled the stench of chalk all day, every day & can still smell it to this day!!  I smell gas leaks in the neighborhood, burned up coffee pots in the office, & advise my sister when her cat's litter box has gone absolutely too long...I don't care if it cleans itself & vacuums the floor...it still stinks!!  I have not been debilitated by my 'GoodSmeller,' although I do suffer from evil, nasty migraines.  I read somewhere on this site that some docs believe hyperosmia may be due to damaged areas in ones spinal cord. Kind of like a 'traffic jam' of sensory input.  I've had 3 low back surgeries & finally fusion with lots of shiny hardware...sounds plausible.  I wouldn't however, take back any of my spinal surgeries...I'm so thankful to still be walking upright, I'd undergo those surgeries w/o anesthesia if that's what the Neuro doc said!!  
God Bless You All
Avatar universal
He may have a zinc deficiency. I suffered the same problem years ago and consulted a doctor in Chicago who said zinc and copper my be low. Started taking zinc daily and copper once a week. Smell returned to normal in about. Month.

Avatar universal
I have always had a very strong sense of smell, much stronger than the average person. Except for migraines, I suffer from what others in this forum are talking about. Certain odors I can not tolerate, especially boy odors, bad breath - including onion and garlic breath. All chemical smells such as cleaning products, perfumes, laundry products, room fresheners - they get "stuck" in my nose. The isles in the grocery stores that sell these products have always bothered me. In my adult years, I developed seasonal allergies, as well as allergy to dust, mold, must, mildew, and when the heat comes on in the fall.

During the past two years, this problem has excellerated. I absolutely can not tolerate the detergents isle in the grocery stores, stores with scented candles, and perfumes. Restrooms with deodorizers are the worst! All the before mentioned odors now at times cause an intense, acute asthma-like coughing fit that can become severe to the point where I am gasping for air. Though I do not have a history of it, I was diagnosed with asthma and prescribed an inhaler. I also am disabled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

It seems that avoidance is the only treatment for this condition.

I do believe that there is link between high stress levels, hyperosmia, allergies, and asthma. I question if there is a build-up of toxins on our environment that maybe a factor in causing these ailments and that is only so much our bodies can take before they shut down.
Avatar universal
Avoidance is the only treatment.  Doctors know this; but for reasons of their own, most will not advise avoidance and choose to waste sufferers' time and finances with wrong advice.

There is no cure for hyperosmia; and it does require loved ones, including family and friends, to alter their lives to help you live yours.  This fact is a real problem for most.  So those ill must come to terms with this sooner than later.

Let's just keep striving to go on doing what we have learned over time works:  avoidance.  Our Heavenly Father Bless us all and help us live the best we can.
Avatar universal
Hi, I come from North Wales, I was reading your comments and was wondering if this condition can start at a young age and if there are any conditions connected. My daughter is 3 and her sense of smell is unbelievable, she smells things that others don't even notice, it makes her gag and choke like she is going to be sick. Don't like to see her suffer so any advice would be great.
Avatar universal
I've always had a heightened sense of smell but it got worse (better - depending on how you look at it) after the spinal I received for my second c-section. Not only are scents stronger but some of the smells I used to like, smell bad to me now. My symptoms are not nearly as dramatic as some of those listed above but they are still annoying. Body odors are the worst. I can smell halitosis from across the room and sweat before someone even enters a room.

That said, I think my youngest, the one I had after getting the spinal has the same condition. We are the only two to smell things that others can't. Thankfully they don't all make us sick or nauseous but again, bad smells are bad, even if they don't make you hurl.
Avatar universal
  I am so sick of living with this problem. I feel like I am going to have to spend my life alone if I am going to ever be happy. Everyone else loves the smell of food, and I can't stand it. Detergents also make me sick, along with many other things. I'm driving my family crazy along with myself. I smell cooking on my clothes for hours. I don't want my kids to only remember me like this, I'm afraid that will be the case, since I have never heard of anyone else with this problem . . . until now!
  I'm so glad I stumbled upon this site. I actually work in ENT and have only asked about it one time to one of our doctors who stated she had never heard of a problem like this, so I chalked it up to just me being crazy and gave up.
  I hope we can all find some relief someday. It changes your life so much more than you can ever even try to explain to anyone. Thank you to everyone who shared your stories.
Avatar universal
I am sorry to hear the various levels of suffering and hope someday there will be a medical solution for us.  I too have hyperosmia.  I realized at the age of six that I was different in this sense.  It was Thanksgiving,  my family ( eight members) and I were watching TV in our living room after the dinner celebration.  I notified my family that I smelled something burning.  No one else smelled something burning.  We continued watching TV.  After a little while, I persisted that I was smelling something burning.  One of my brothers was sent to check the kitchen and found nothing.  I persisted.  Another brother was sent to check the furnace in the basement.  Again, nothing.  No one paid attention to me after that.  About 20 minutes later one of my brothers happened to look out the bay windows and yelled the house across the street and one house over was on fire.  A person parished in the fire.

I also suffered from migraines.  They started when I was thirteen.  The migraines were without aura and were accompanied with constant vomiting.  I had four key triggers with one being exposed to strong odors for a period of time.

My acute sense of smell has forced me to make many modifacations over the course of years.  I am in my early 50's now and try to protect myself the best I can.  I use fragrance free face and body soaps (aveeno), fragrance free face and body lotions and fragrance free laundry detergent and fabric softer.  I use a steam to clean my floors, swifter dry dust clothes, vinegar and water to clean surfaces.  I only use two scented cleaning products because I have not found an alternative but ensure the area is well ventilated.

It took years for my husband to understand the severity of my issue.  I found aveeno carried a line for men that was fragrance free.  It is called aveeno active naturals.  I found fragrance free shave gel, after shave lotion and face wash.  This has helped me tremendously on this front and my husband actually likes the product.

We have dogs.  We use fragrance free dog shampoo and conditioner.  

When we invite guests to our home, we kindly ask that they not wear fragrances such as cologne, perfume or scented lotions as I am allergic to fragrances.

I am the cook in my family.  So far, I can tolerate most food odors but I do frequently open the kitchen window when I cook no matter what the weather is outside.  I just adjust the opening accordingly.  Also, I generally wear t- shirts to cook dinner because I get food odor transfer so I can change out t-shirts easily and at a lower cost than dry cleaning.  I just have more laundry.

I have learned to remove myself from an environment with "strong" odors as quickly as possible before I get too exposed and I reach " the point of no return" where I get ill.  If people do not understand and look at me funny, so be it.  It is a matter of survival.

I have had to quickly remove myself from elevators, taxi's, dr's offices, restaurants, etc.

I also suffer from a variety of allergies which at times are scary for me as my breathing becomes constricted, I feel dizzy and faint amongst other symptoms.  I have two different inhalers.

Bottom line,  I have found a routine that works with my specific triggers.  I understand that I may have to adjust my routine as I come across new triggers.  I have learned to take a stand for myself as most people do not understand my situation and how "strong" odors can make me ill to the point of being non functional.

Until the medical community can truly help us, know that you are not alone and continue to fight for a healthy living situation.
Avatar universal
I too, have yperosmia and it was all triggered by a smell in a taxi cab.....caused a 10/10 headache, a 2 day hospital stay and every test and medication under the sun....with no definitive answers. In reading this blog, I saw a comment about a clinic in LaCrosse Wisconsin that can help.  Does anyone know the name of the clinic? M
Thanks.....its good to know I'm not crazy!   Good luck to all of you!
Avatar universal
Wow, I feel like I hit the jackpot of fellow sufferers...have only met one other person before that had extreme sensitivity to smells! She had a diagnosis of MCS (Multiple Chemical Syndrome), extreme chemical sensitivity to all sorts of plastics, carpets, fragrances, petro products, etc. Made me feel lucky to have the simpler symptoms that I have.

I started having problems the summer of 1995 after I suffered a strange red swollen infection in both my feet after crawling around in a plowed field for a day, getting dirt inside my shoes that I didn't bother to remove as it just kept getting in.  I believe that I suffered a reaction to chemicals in that soil (pesticides, etc.) that day.

About a week later, after being on meds, my feet healed, I was sitting in a small meeting of about 20 people where one lady had seemed to have poured the entire perfume bottle on herself, along with an entire spray can of insect repellant. She said she had been weeding all day (thus the repellant) and didn't have time to shower (thus the overdose of perfume). I found the combined odors extremely overpowering and felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my nose, smashing it up into my sinuses! I spent 3 days very sick at home after that 1 hour of exposure.

I had just recuperated from this attack on my senses when I attended another larger meeting in a sizeable room, where I could smell so many fragrances and could identify from which direction each of them came from. I got very dizzy and light headed and felt like I was going to collapse. I wobbled up from my chair and could barely stumble out of the meeting room to the bathroom in the back of the building. I stayed in that room until the meeting was over and I could ride home with my spouse. Again, I was super ill for days afterwards.

Every time I was around a crowd of scented people, the same thing happened. I finally asked my allergist about the possibility of being allergic to perfumes and whether or not there were any injections I could take to lessen the severity of the symptoms, as I couldn't afford to be ill all the time. He informed me that perfumes have HUNDREDS of ingredients and that it would be impossible to formulate an allergy injection for perfume.  The only and best solution?  AVOIDANCE.

Avoidance? That meant reading EVERY LABEL on any product I was looking at to buy to make sure that "fragrance" was not in the ingredients. I could not stand the slightest smell ON me, so every product in the house was "fragrance-free." It also meant everyone else in the household had to be fragrance-free as well, so all the items they used had to be free of the offending fragrances and colognes. I became an avid hunter of fragrance-free products for all of us, whether in K-Mart or in health food stores. And,   I discovered that, even if the front of the product says "unscented," don't always believe it!  Some unscented items will still have a fragrance in the ingredients' label !!!

Some of the products that I found that I could handle are:  ALL Free & Clear Laundry detergent, Dove sensitive-skin fragrance-free hand soap, Seventh Generation liquid dish soap, Aveeno skin lotion & Aveeno shaving cream, Puffs unscented tissues, Sure fragrance-free deodorant.  So far, the only shampoos and conditioners and hair sprays free of fragrances I have located have been found in Health Food Stores.

I use vinegar in the bleach cup holder of the washer as a sanitizer, as I can't handle bleach. Vinegar is great for a lot of cleaning jobs, as well as baking soda.

Thankfully, my family took to wearing fragrance-free products all the time quite nicely. If any of them were in a crowd of scented people, they would take off their coats and jackets and hang them up in the garage to air out before coming inside.

I also have a few food allergies, and I can tell if someone is eating peanut butter in the other room (gag-some smell!), or cooking eggs (nauseating!)    I can smell the nasty peanut butter in cookies or brownies, so won't touch them. If I am ill, cooking eggs has just got to be the nastiest smell in the world (eurp!!!).

Certain stores are toxic to me; I won't even enter the frilly, scented candled places, they are too strong, and I can smell them long before I get to their doors. I avoid walking through or next to perfume displays, often walking in a long round-about way throughout a store. I can't handle going down the detergent aisles, I have to hold my breath, cover my nose and dash down to grab the fragrance-free detergent. (Why can't they have them at the beginning of the aisle!!??)

I don't even go into stores during X-Mas time, there are so many offending odors, plus an increased number of scented people, I can't stand it. I try to shop in grocery stores during slow times so I am not likely to meet a lot of stinky people. And churches and bars? Forget it! People going out on the town seem to pour bottles of every scented product on themselves that they can. And Smoke? Allergic to that too...Nothing worse than fragrances trying to cover up cigarette smell... choke, gag!!!

If I ride with others, I nag them to death about not "tail-gating" the vehicle in front of us, as I don't like the fumes from their exhaust. I especially demand that, at a stop light, we stop and stay a ways away from the car in front of us. And I can't handle riding in a vehicle without air conditioning, as the heat from the car, heat from the road and the engines just gag me. I insist on using my pickup when my cousin and I go anywhere, even though he states his gas mileage is better, since his air conditioning doesn't work. ("Just open your window" he says. HA! No way...)

I have learned to speak up for myself in public....if I don't, who will? One time I was having lunch with my brother, and a very heavily scented waitress came to our table. I told her I couldn't have her wait on me, she was too stinky (big slip of tongue, meant to say perfumey)). Wow, did she fly off the handle, took offense thinking I didn't want a Latino serving me, which was far from the case. lol

Actually, by avoiding fragrances (and smokers), I have less sinus infections and less bronchitis and less pneumonias now, which makes my doctors happy. One doctor tried testing me for asthma because I told him I had troubles breathing around fragrances, but that turned out to be a negative diagnosis. My blood pressure goes up when I am "attacked" by fragrances. My doctor couldn't believe that I could sense high blood pressure, until one day, when I appeared at his office I was accosted by scented candles and scented plug-ins in the check-in office. Once I signed in, I had to step out into the hall way for "air". No one could persuade me to go back inside, so my doctor came out and checked my blood pressure....it was super high, along with my being dizzy, light-headed and sick to my stomach. Doc became a believer that day. O, and he also made sure there were no more smelly products in the future in the office! Loved that man...wish he were still my physician!

One good thing about being extra sensitive....I prevented a fire in our home. I was sleeping, and all of a sudden sat straight up. "I smell something scorchy!" I yelled. My husband and I walked all the way through the house until we got to the other side and he finally could smell it too. Turned out to be a charger was going bad and could have ignited at any minute. That charger was 60 feet away when I smelled it, and it was super nasty strong to me.

I liked reading all the posts here. I am going to ask my doctor about some of the suggestions about nasal cauterizations, etc. Thanks, guys for sharing!


Avatar universal
As with everyone else here, I have hyperosmia. If you can tolerate the rubber, then I recommend respirators that protect against paint fumes (available at Lowe's) can block volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from perfume or "fragrance" as the term stinkers prefer you use. Of course, once you are 'fumed, the migraine and pain is instantaneous, so it is best to use the respirator as a prophylactic when you know you are going to be 'fumed by known stinkers.
I saw someone was recommending a dopamine antagonist, which is a treatment for schizophrenia and can cause side effect similar to Parkinson's disease. This is again the ignorant medical community's idea of putting a lid on what largely is affecting women...instead of seeing this as a clue to investigate. For instance, what other disease are prominent in women and are there links to these diseases and hyperosmia?
If you think about women in early pregnancy, many of these women purport hyperosmia leading to nausea and vomiting - why doesn't the medical community say these women are "making this up?" We know in early pregnancy TSH levels, as well as many other hormones are rapidly rising, which could help explain symptoms.
When you try to explain your odor threshold to a stinker, then it is like trying to describe a 3-D world to a 2-D creature who cannot perceive depth - stinkers refuse to believe what they cannot smell just like doubting Thomas in the bible.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO1y-Tm8dSI
It is difficult to have patience with stinkers, but just remember that we now have a treatment for restless leg syndrome, which the medical community also thought was "made up" until suffering patients started making connections. The medical community cannot admit ignorance, so it will be labeled a "mad and hysterical" disorder until (1) more men come forward with the disorder or (2) a treatment is accidentally found because no one is particularly interested in treating a "female" disease unless it involves making more babies.
Avatar universal
I have this too, get a box of coffee bags. They look like tea bags but they are coffee. I buy mine at walmart its folgers in a box.  Put the coffee bag to your nose and breath it for about 3 mins...coffee cleans the palate. Works for me everytime. Good luck
Avatar universal
I have this too, get a box of coffee bags. They look like tea bags but they are coffee. I buy mine at walmart its folgers in a box.  Put the coffee bag to your nose and breath it for about 3 mins...coffee cleans the palate. Works for me everytime. Good luck
Avatar universal
Just recently I found out there's a name for my problem. Hyperosmia. All my life I have been sensitive to smells and wondered what's wrong with people around me who don't smell what I smell. Many things make me gag and I get a migraine headache from some of them, but my GP told me 15 years ago to try a certain combination of meds and see if it helps, because until then nothing worked. He said I should take 1 tablet of Cafergot and 2 tabs of Synflex 275mg as soon as I notice the first symptom of migraine. It worked and I've been taking it ever since. I have cut it down to 1/4 and it still works but it takes a bit longer to take effect. The reason being: Cafergot contains Ergotamine and, being a vasoconstrictor I didn't want to run the risk of tightening the coronary arteries. Considering that I have allergies and that my migraines are almost always combined with a blocked sinus, I take Fedac (1/2) which contains pseudoephedrine and an antihistamine. It always works and I hope it works for you too. I am very sensitive to caffeine and even when I take 1/4 of Cafergot at lunch time I can't sleep that night until 3 or 4 am and the quarter only contains 25mg of caffeine. Then I have to take another half of Fedac to help me fall asleep. Also make sure you take the meds after food because Synflex irritates the stomach lining. My heart goes out to all of you who suffer from migraines. Mine were hormone related as well as food and inhalants. In other words anything that is in the air would affect me. I had control over food but not the air. I feel great now because I don't have migraines any more that lasted for a week non stop. Hope it works for you. I have to learn to live with Hyperosmia and hope there will be a solution to it soon. As I am getting older it's getting worse.
Avatar universal
I have suffered with this for years.  Now it is the Chemical fragrances that particularily drive me crazy.  The dryer exhaust from our building's laundromat is vented out under my living room window.  I am getting ready to move to another apartment on the other side to get away from it and be able to open my windows.

Recently I have discovered that if I take Claritin everyday, it seems to dampen down my sense of smell.  I don't like taking it but for now I need the break.
Avatar universal
I'm identifying with so much of what you're saying and so appreciate your pointing out the raw nerve point feeling at the top of the nasal cavity upon initial contact and the path it follows to your neck.  Eating takes away the pain until right after last bite--yes!  That's me exactly. Iwas just 'cooped' up in a friend's car for less than 10-minutes for the drive across town--visor air 'freshener'--always on passenger side--has physically ruined my day.
Avatar universal
Question before my comment: Has anyone tried air purifiers?? If so, which worked for you??
Comment: I wish we weren't alone in this, and I wish this was a documented issue with the medical community. It's debilitating and it can most certainly effect relationships. Having hyperosmia, my coworkers (whom I still adore) don't respect my needs about perfumes and especially heating fish in the microwave. (I'm gagging!) My spouse gets annoyed as I smell the neighbors cooking and smoking and often complain- he doesn't understand that just because the smells don't bother him doesn't mean they're not debilitating to me. I can no longer wear perfumes or body lotions. Smoking and the scent of food cooking sends me to headaches and nausea. And I can often smell the food and smoke in my clothing and hair even hours later, it's like it just continues to accost me. And most especially I can smell people's hair scents, like their scalp, it's as if my face is buried in a hotel room pillow. And I have worked with children for 20 years, but in the past 10 years or so, some of their scents make me nauseous. So while I'm happy to see I'm not alone, I'm so sorry for all of us, and I hope we get help soon! (I will be buying those coffee bags and carrying them around with me for relief!!)
Avatar universal
Hello Christy
Thank you so much for posting this waaaaaaay back in 2009.
Ive had this problem all my life. Its so bad that I get migraines from womens perfume. I can smell when people are sick, and when I worked at the nature reserves, I told the game rangers which of his herd were pregnant.
As cute as this sounds, I suffer. Ive not been able to be intimate with anyone for years, i dont hug or touch anyone because i can smell their earwax and their natural oil on their head.
Ive tried huffing paint thinners, Ive tried swabbing my nose out with ethanol, Ive tried essential oils, Ive done everything. Ive even tried breaking my nose, only been able to fracture it. Now that I understand that it is the nerve that is hypersensitive, I wont try to break my nose anymore.
But my point is that I am desperate, I cant work with people, and in every bloody industry, you are expected to be a team player.
If anyone has any help, please, I need it.
Hello :) I hope you are seeing this, I am intrested to make a book about Hyperosmia and I would like to have more intell about it, if you are intrested pleas contact me. I am very young writer and Hyperosmia has a lot of potential to make good stories even though you have a rough live ahead of you. I hope you dont judge me, but I see this as an insperation to my fantasy sided mind. As well I see it as an insperation to encounter my own illness. Thank you very much for your answer!
Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
620923 tn?1452919248
Allentown, PA
5265383 tn?1483811956
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
1780921 tn?1499305393
Queen Creek, AZ
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease