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What does it mean if I smell things that other people don't smell?

Sometimes I start smelling things, like I think food is cooking or I smell flowers all of the sudden, even thought I'm just sitting at home. If someone else is around, I ask them and they don't smell anything. What's causing this? Should I be worried?
The symptoms you describe can sometimes be associated with abnormal activity in a part of the brain called the temporal lobe. This is the area of the brain that helps you interpret smells, and atypical activity in this part of the brain can cause a person to 'smell' something that is not present in the environment (i.e. not being detected by anyone else). There are many different things which can cause this finding, but seizures in the temporal lobe are one of them. It would be in your best interests to make an appointment with your primary care physician right away to more fully evaluate these symptoms. He or she will likely want to know more about any history of head trauma; family history of neurologic disease; and any medications you may be taking. You may be referred to a neurologist for further evaluation, and additional imaging of your brain (typically an MRI) may also be helpful. Your symptoms are unusual, but the good news is that with prompt medical evaluation your physicians can help get to the bottom of what is causing them.
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.

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