ZocdocAnswersWhy do I smell marzipan that is not there?

Question

Why do I smell marzipan that is not there?

I always smell marzipan and it's not there, I always ask people if they smell it but they can't, and think I'm insane, it lasts a few seconds then disappears, but returns many times throughout the day. My nose is completely blocked due to the cold right now, so I can't really smell anything. It bugs me a lot.

Answer

Sorry to hear about your complaint, but I thank your for your question. What you seem to be describing is often called parosmia by physicians. It can have many different causes, but it is important to discuss it with your doctor. The symptom of smelling something that is not really present can be due to problems within your nose itself. If the symptoms have only been present while you have had your current cold, then it is possible that the cold itself is the explanation. Doctors do think that there are some viruses that can cause problems and changes with the sense of smell, and so that could be the explanation. One question that might be of value is whether or not you can still smell certain smells such as ammonia. This may help your doctor to understand where the root cause of your change in the sense of smell is located. Disorders of the sense of smell are most often treated by an otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon (AKA ENT AKA ear nose and throat surgeon). He or she will best be able to help you understand what you are describing and determine if further treatment or studies are needed. Please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.