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Smelling things that aren't there

Howdy everyone, I'm Jim and I've been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease for two years now. I like the idea of being on a forum like this.

A quick question for you fine folks. Does anyone ever get smells in their nose that are not really present? At least a few times a day I get various smells in my nose that I know aren't there. Sometimes it is burnt feathers, other times it is a weird sweat like smell. I have no idea where it's coming from and was wondering if it might be due to my Crohn's Disease.

Other than that, I'm doing pretty good. I'm on Humira which has things under pretty good control. I could of course stand to lose some weight but other than that, my doctor is pleased with my progress.
Welcome Barnacle,
I have for years, even before diagnoses. I also smell things that ARE there that are so faint others can't until it's right up their nose. Go figure. I have a friend who smelled smoke that wasn't there and she was diagnosed with diabetes, again, go figure. This start before or after Humira, that might help to figure it out if its something to be concerned about. Or if its just annoying.


Naples, Florida
That's really fascinating. I'm curious if many others have this as well. One theory is the "What fires together wires together" dogma of neuroscience. Meaning if you have an experience in the past where X happened and you smelled Y at that same time, the two sensory inputs wire together neurologically. This was evolutionary so that if you smelled lion poop and then a lion jumped out and you survived, the next time you smelled lion poop, you'd feel anxious and get out of there. So maybe you had some experiences in the past that you're being reminded of.

Welcome to the forum by the way, it's great to have you here :)


Hi Barnacle and welcome to the forum. I am pleased that the Humira is keeping things well for your tum :) I myself have not had any experience of smelling things that are not there but am also curious about what others have to say about this. How long have you had this for and have you spoken to your doc about it?

Really pleased you have joined us, I hope you find it as wonderful here as I do.



Staff member
When certain things are injected into an IV then I smell random things (a lot like alcohol). Sometimes I smell things burning and am afraid I'm having a stroke. No explanation so far though. Happens rarely though.
I change my bag every morning.
I swear for the rest of the day - I can smell the bag. Not in a bad way. I think it might be the biochemistry of my body exuding the odour.
I also have a t-shirt that smells of that sweet honey like pred sweat. The smell haunts me!!
I have always had episodes of smells that don't exist; I used to call them 'smellusinations'. Not very often though (and no lion poop, thank goodness! more like food, or fires. lots of burning smells).
I also have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell for real things. It is a major family joke. Maybe the 2 traits go together?
HI Barnicle. What the heck, I googled smelling things, and it brought me right back to my crohns forum. I've been smelling a sweaty smell for the past few days and just can't figure it out. This is all so odd.
Ah yes...drives me nuts. Cat pee and an overall sour smell. I have rewashed entire loads of clothes because I think they smell sour and realize I think everything smells that way that day. Cat pee...who knows?
I haven't been diagnosed with anything like Crohn's Disease (though my father has some kind of IBD, either Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis - we should know soon), and I also occasionally get olfactory or gustatory "hallucinations."

Sometimes, I catch whiffs of things like blueberries or in some cases, very specific things like brands of soda (one time I thought I smelled Sprite when walking by a desk).

I chalk it up to just a random blip of a synapse that mimics the scent or taste for a brief period of time.

It could be serious, I guess if the hallucinations are intense or long lasting, but mine aren't, in fact, I usually find what I think I smell or taste fascinating.
Ah yes...drives me nuts. Cat pee and an overall sour smell. I have rewashed entire loads of clothes because I think they smell sour and realize I think everything smells that way that day. Cat pee...who knows?
There are times where I do smell unpleasant things too... LIKE cat pee (and I have cat's so I always freak out because I worry that one of the furballs was naughty).

I've also sworn I smelled skunk and burning electrical smells occasionally in places where it would not be possible.


Super Moderator
Yep, I also smell things that nobody else smells! Personally, I've found that blowing my nose seems to help make the odd smells go away. But, what does that mean - was I actually smelling my own boogers??? That's my theory. If it's true then at least it means nobody else can smell it then so it's my gross little secret. :p
Hi Barnacle,

I am so glad I read this!! This has been happening to me for years! I was diagnosed with UC eight years ago and then this year the "smells" has been even more...vivid? Come to find out I also have Crohn's! I smell sour alot, but also burning smells. I also rewash the laundry because I swear it smells like stagnant water. I have also always thought that I smell sour-not totally like BO but something sourish-and it bothers me all the time. (I am a clean human, lol). My finace is always telling me that I don't smell and that all the nefarious scents I smell is not anything anyone else can smell.

I am so happy that I am not nasally defective! I thought I was nuts, but it makes me feel better that others with the same diagnoses have the same experience!
Hi Jim, I couldn't believe when I read your post and all the replies-I have the same thing!! Never really related it to Crohn's-but I smell things that aren't there, like burning wood or rotten potato-type smells. Drives my husband nuts, because I also sometimes think food smells rotten while it's cooking, and I throw it out, just to be safe. Why couldn't I go around smelling chocolate chip cookies??

It gets worse when I take Flagyl, and I am on Remicade, Methotrexate and Pentasa. CRAAAAZYYY!:runaway: