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Odd "smell"

  • By Joys-An

    From time to time I have the sensation of a very disgusting, sickening smell. It’s mostly if I am under a lot of stress. The scent is so overwhelming that I can’t eat. Even water tastes like the scent. It is kind of like bad sweat (way past perspiration) and rancid oil. It can last a few hours to a few days and I have often lost a small amount of weight because I can’t make myself eat. Because my doctors can’t find any other reason for it, they have said it must be my MS. Has anyone else been bothered with this?

  • By Kim Dolce Moderator

    Hi Joys-An,

    I’ve had a similar problem this year, especially with a bad sebum odor emanating from my scalp even after I wash my hair. I’ve had other embarrassing kinds of odor, too. My solution is to practice more vigorous hygiene, and much more often than I used to. Since I’ve been going through menopause, I’ve been blaming the hormone shift for my offensive odors. Hormone therapy has helped some. If you are in the stage of life when perimenopause or menopause are factors, you might consult your OB/GYN.

    Frankly, I don’t see how MS could be causing a change in odors. I suppose if there is brain damage to the center involving the sense of smell, you might be smelling something that isn’t really there. Have you had anyone else confirm the odor actually exists?

    It is common for medications to have such side effects. Did you do a medications review with your doc? Have you recently added a new med? It’s worth checking out. I had a body odor/scalp sebum problem the first time I took prednisone. It went away after I stopped the steroid.

    An overactive thyroid and adrenal conditions can cause body odor as well.

    I hope you can get to the bottom of it soon.


  • By joyfulnana

    I am so thankful to have found this site for I don’t feel like I’ve been signaled out. LOL I have fought the bad odor thing for just over a year now. I have a caregiver now that baths me everyday and if I get hot I wipe down with alcohol swabs and then scent free lotion. My doctor says it is the area of brain that controls sense of smell etc.

  • By Olivia Walker

    I often get the weird smell sensation as well as the taste as well. I often will smell for no reason ammonia only 10 time stronger than bottled ammonia. And when I am drinking a hot beverage usually tea it will taste like I am licking an ashtray. It comes and goes and I never know when it will show up.

  • By C.G

    Wow! I thought I was going crazy because lately I smell ammonia off & on, but no one else does. It’s crazy how it’s MS related.

  • By Yani

    I thought I was the only one. I checked all the side effects of every medication I take but nothing has the side effect. I just try to go about my day. Some people think I’m crazy

  • By VickiW

    YES! I smell smoke! There is no smoke. I place a little bit of peppermint oil under my nose to avoid the smoke scent.

  • By Meagan Heidelberg Moderator

    Hi VickiW! Thank you so much for sharing what works best for you!!
    Meagan, Team Member

  • By dashaway

    Any guesses as to whether this could be a side effect of medications versus a symptom? Or maybe it’s both!

  • By MylesC

    I have been suffering with a phantom smell for 18 months. My smell is also smoke. It’s a heavy bonfire type smell and you feel like you are standing in the middle of it and you can’t get away. I had it the first time and then again a month and it lasted 3 days both times. Then again a few weeks later and that time it stayed a week. Grim.

    The only effective remedy I found for battling the smell was a Vicks.nasal inhaler, working similar to the oil mentioned it blocks out the smell in the short term. This is when you realise how bizarre a symptom it is, you can mask a non-existent smell with a nasal inhaler?!?! Haha.

    I mentioned this to my MS nurse who said she had never met anyone with this symptom. I got a similar answer from my Neurologist which was disappointing but he did say we should try amitriptyline (10mg rising to 20mg at night) as it is the best drug for random symptoms involving the senses. Well it worked, it stopped the smell appearing for over 5 months so I took it as working for me.

    The smell has been back a could of times.and that may be my fault as I stopped taking the meds as I was trying to reduce my mediation for a period. I just started the nightly amitriptylin and it disappeared.

    I have noticed that periods of stress bring the symptom back, I’m not sure if that is the same for you?

    Best of luck with your smells.

  • By Tangenikka LaShay Terrell

    Wow! I am sorry! Funny! I smell cooking of something around me! Mainly in my bedroom! I get up to see if I left something going on the stove, but nothing is there. I have left something burning on a fatigue day and dang near burned my apartment down, so now I am hyper sensitive to looking for it. I did not think it was a phantom type thing going on, I just thought I was tripping myself out. Thank you for sharing! Now I can be aware that I am not tripping.

  • By Anonymous

    Very occasionally and it will last a few days, I either smell phantom garlic, grilling hot dogs or ham. The one who mentioned the Vicks inhaler, kudos, as it works for me!

    I have on occasion gone around sniffing the kitchen, other rooms (did someone leave some food where they should not?) and even the garbage. Hubby looks at me funny and says to blow my nose and get it out of there, but that does not fix it. The Vicks (for me just open a regular jar which I also use to rub on some spots for muscle pain) is what has helped me.

  • By adewar831

    I have phantom smells all the time. I smell bleach, salty metal smells. Drives me crazy! I feel like my house is so dirty cause of it.

  • By littlemichalle

    I too have started having this garlic onion odor that no one smells but me. Has been driving me nuts for three days. Looked up all meds with no luck. Didn’t even think of my Ms but maybe that’s what all the headaches are from also a relapse. Thank you all for the information it was very helpful.

  • By krazytcats

    I have also been smelling something sour, like a sour cloth. I don’t smell sour( meaning it’s not me that smells sour) lol but for about 3 months I can smell sour. Not my body, clothes, hair, nostrils but I can smell it. It’s on and off. Phantom smells??

  • By meandMyShadow

    Guess I am lucky. LOL I smell a spicy carnation scent. I believe my personal “scent” is caused by my meds for serious hypertension. My friend had same thing when on chemo. Just one more quirk to be chalked up to imagination – but WE know better.