ZocdocAnswersCan motion cause strange smells?

Question

Can motion cause strange smells?

I've never heard of anyone else having this problem, but ever since I was a kid, I perceive strange smells when I lean over. Recently, it seems like the odors have been getting worse. Help?

Answer

I must say that this is not a very common complaint. Smells that are perceived but not actually there are known as phantosmia. The best type of doctor to approach about this unusual problem is an ear nose and throat doctor (ENT). When you lean over, there are sensors in your inner ear which perceive this change in body position and allow for balance to be maintained. This change in position has the potential to produce vertigo (sensation of spinning), and nausea. A perceived strange smell would not be typical because the nerves for smell and body position do not generally connect. There are conditions in which the sensation of smells that are not there are perceived. Once such condition is epileptic seizures. These strange smells usually come on just before a seizure attack and are often remembered by those that have them. Not all seizures involve shaking or convulsing, but at the very least you would have memory loss or some other symptom that would have been noticed. Thus, I don't think that this is a reasonable explanation for your symptoms. The ENT doctor specializes in both the inner ear (where the body position sensors are) and the nose. Thus, I think this would be your best first step.

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