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Why Do I Smell Something Sweet?
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July 30, 2017


By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


If someone asked you to name the most chronic medical
condition in the United States, what would you say? Most of
us would guess high blood pressure or obesity or arthritis or
some other condition that we hear about rather often in the
news? But we would be wrong.

The most chronic medical condition in the United States is
"chronic inflammation of the nose and sinuses". This was the
finding of the National Center for Health Statistics, National
Health Interview Survey, 2002, the last year the survey was
taken.  And about half of all people with nasal or sinus
inflammation suffer from either a loss of smell or a distorted
sense of smell.

Though inflammation may be a common immediate cause of
a distorted sense of smell, there are many underlying causes.

Phantosmia - When You Smell Things That Are Not There

A total loss of the sense of smell is called "anosmia". If you
have only a partial loss of your sense of smell, it is called
"hyposmia".

If you smell things that are real but the perception is wrong
-- for example, you eating spaghetti but it smells like rotten
eggs -- the condition is called "parosmia". Finally, if you
smell something that is not there, then you experiencing
phantom smells, a condition known as "phantosmia".

Smelling something sweet that is not there is a form of
phantosmia. Sweet phantom smells are actually not as
common as foul phantom smells. For example, people with
phantosmia often complain that when they eat meat or
something other dish, it smells like rotten eggs, wet dogs,
something dead or feces. It's a serious health issue because
your sense of taste is mostly controlled by your sense of
smell. Without a working sense of smell, many people stop
eating or they distort their diets in an unhealthy way.

A Distorted Sense of Smell Can Lead to Serious Depression

The sense of smell is connected intimately with our sense of
well-being. One doctor, Dr. Donald Leopold of the University
of Nebraska, reports that about 50% of his patients whose
loss of sense of smell drove them to seek surgery, had also
considered suicide because of the problem.

Here are some common and not-so-common causes of
phantosmia.






























1.
Brain Tumors Can Alter Your Sense of Smell

If you are experiencing phantom smells, do not put off
seeing a doctor. That would be a serious mistake.

Phantom smells can indicate a brain tumor. There are three
parts of the brain that control the sense of smell: the
orbitofrontol cortex, located just behind your eyes and
slightly up in your forehead; the insula, located behind your
ears; and the piriform cortex, located between the other two
areas.

A tumor in any of these three regions will damage your
sense of smell.  Only an brain scan will help your doctor
definitely rule out a brain tumor.

2.
Seizures Can Change Your Sense of Smell

Seizures that affect your temporal lobe can distort your
sense of smell. This is a well-known side effect of seizures
and it is unlikely that, if you are having seizures, that you
would not have already connected the with any apparent
distortion in your sense of smell.

But did you known that the reverse is also true? That is,
sometimes smells themselves can bring on seizures. In 2015,
doctors from Elbistan State Hospital in Turkey reported the
case of a patient whose seizures were triggered by smells.

In many parts of the world, people having seizures are
treating with a specific kind of aromatherapy --- "shoe
smell".  In many countries in the developing world, shoe
smell is an accepted and effective natural remedy for an
epileptic seizure.  

In 2008, scientists from GR Medical College in India set out
to test whether shoe smell could indeed stop epileptic
seizures. They concluded that "olfactory stimuli in this study
have been found to possess significantly effective anti-
epileptic influence which could have formed the basis for the
use of application of "shoe-smell" in earlier times and also
for its persistence even today in those parts of developing
regions."


3.
Impaired Sense of Smell is an Early Sign of Alzheimer's
Disease


As we age, so does our sense of smell. But sometimes a loss
of our sense of smell is not a consequence of the normal
aging process. Sometimes, it can indicate Alzheimer's. In
2016, a group of scientists from Massachusetts General
Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health and the
University of North Carolina tested the sense of smell of 183
people. Those who did poorly on the following test later
were found to have early Alzheimer's disease.

This was the test. The participants were given a four-point
test to see if they could identify certain strong smells such as
menthol and lemon or strawberries. They were also given a
second test of 20 smells and asked whether they could
remember the 10 smells from the first test. This second test
was even better at predicting who had early Alzheimer's.

Smells are strongly connected with memory. Most of us have
had the experience of smelling  something that immediately
made us recall an experience we've had.

It turns out that your sense of smell is different from all your
other senses. Each of your other senses is processed
through your thalmus an area of the brain sometimes called
the gateway to your consciousness. Your sense of smell is
not processed this way. It has its very own, direct pathway
that does not go through a middleman.  This is the reason
that you can block out some of your senses --- such as when
you get engrossed in a movie and don't hear someone
calling you --- but you can never block out your sense of
smell.  No matter what else you are doing, no matter how
engrossed or scared or nervous or happy you are, your
brain will always sense smells.

Alzheimer's apparently attacks this core, ancient part of the
brain before it attacks functions that go through the thalmus
middleman. Or, it could be that the because the other senses
go through a middleman, that they can better compensate by
drawing on a larger network in the brain once Alzheimer's
develops.

4.
Treat Nasal Infections and Sinusitis to Protect Your Sense
of Smell


If you re smelling something sweet that is not there, your
sense of smell needs to be healed. As nasal or sinus
inflammation is a common cause of distorted sense of smell,
you should do all you can to reduce chronic inflammation in
these passages.  Stubborn infections caused by bacteria
should be treated with antibiotics.

5.
Stop Smoking to Heal Your Sense of Smell

There are many causes of sinusitis but one of the most
common is smoking. You simply have to protect your sense
of smell by putting aside the cigarettes.


6. Take a Pause from Pollution to Restore Your Sense of
Smell


Just as smoking can damage your sense of smell, so can
pollution.

A 2016 study led by the Pritzker School of Medicine at the  
University of Chicago observed that airborne fine particulate
matter enters " the olfactory epithelium, to be transported to
the olfactory bulb, and to even reach the olfactory cortex
and other brain regions".

Many people in Beijing, China and other heavily polluted
regions of the world wear masks when they go outside to
protect their lungs and noses from the onslaught of these
particulates. But China is not even in the Top 10 worst
countries in terms of air pollution. According to the World
Health Organization, the Top 10 worst places on Earth to
breath are the following countries. The measurements are of
tiny particulate matter:

1. Saudi Arabia                        108

2. Quatar                                 103

3. Egypt                                   93

4. Bangladesh                          84

5. Kuwait                                 75

6. Cameroon                            65

7. United Arab Emirates           64

8. Nepal                                   64

9. India                                    62

10. Libya                                  61




For now at least, the United States ranks Number 8 among
the countries with the cleanest air in the  world. Will it be
long before even those of us in the Western World also will
find ourselves wearing these masks to shield us from the air
we breathe?



7. Migraines Can Distort Your Sense of Smell

Migraines can cause olfactory distortions. Called "migrainous
olfactory hallucinations", these distortions were  described
most fully in a 1987 study from  Westminster Hospital and  
Westminster Medical School in London. The cases described
all involved patients who smelled things that were not there
for about 5 minutes prior to the onset of a migraine. The
scientists believed that the olfactory hallucinations indicated
involvement of the temporal lobe, and particularly the uncus
area of the brain.

Though migraines can be difficult to treat, here are
natural
remedies that have proved effective in many cases
.




































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