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"Why do I have a strange smell in my nose all the time?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have a strange smell in my nose all the time?


I've had some issues with my sinuses and my nasal passages, including surgery. Everything has been a lot better over the last year or so, but lately I've had a funny smell in my nose. It is almost like a wet, musty smell that doesn't go away. What could cause a bad smell in someone's nose like this?


This isn't a completely uncommon question in the ENT clinic (especially if the ENT sees a lot of patients with sinus disease). It would be beneficial to get some information from you (i.e. take a history) and from your medical record (to see exactly what was done surgically, for what reason, and what the pathology was) because this would give some clues as to what might be going on. If you haven't been back to your ENT already, I would recommend going back to discuss your problem, and to have them take a look at you. There are a number of different things that may be going on...for instance, if you have a history of nasal polyps and you have recurrent polyp disease, it can sometimes be significant enough that it will obstruct the normal outflow tracts of sinonasal mucous which can back-up and can start to smell. Crusting within the nose (i.e. dried out mucous) can also have a foul smell. If there is inflammatory mucosal disease (like polyp disease, or chronic rhinosinusitis) that is high in the nose close to the skull base, then it may obstruct (or block mucous up against) the olfactory nerve from doing its job. The olfactory nerve sends fibers through the skull base in the roof of the nose which is what provides the sense of smell. A good history, and an exam (including nasal endoscopy) will help a lot in determining what is going on. Best of luck, and please see your ENT doctor soon.

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