Explaining Migraine Phantom Smells and Olfactory Hallucinations
Migraine phantom smell and olfactory hallucinations are both sensory disturbances associated with migraine. They occur at different stages of a migraine attack and have distinct characteristics.
To begin with, let’s look at the Phases of Migraine, created by Miles for Migraine. Migraine Phantom Smells and Olfactory Hallucinations happen in the prodrome and aura phase. Below, I will discuss the differences.
Migraine Phantom Smell Prodrome
The prodrome phase is an early stage that can precede the onset of the acute attack phase. It serves as a warning sign, indicating that a migraine attack is likely to occur in the near future.
During the prodrome phase, some individuals may experience phantom smells or olfactory sensations. These are typically unusual or unpleasant odors that are not actually present in the environment. The prodrome phase can last for hours or even days leading up to the onset of the attack phase. Not everyone who experiences migraine attacks will have a prodrome, and among those who do, not all will experience olfactory sensations.
When it comes to migraine, smell is one of the strangest symptoms I get. Last weekend, I went shopping. When I went to check out, I was overcome by the smell of gas. I cautiously asked if anyone else smelled gas. I didn’t want to induce chaos from people fleeing the store from a gas leak, but no one else smelled it. No one? How weird! So when I got home and was changing I smelled it again. I then knew it was me and not a store in danger, lucky them. I learned phantom smells are a symptom and sign that a migraine attack is rising for me.
Can Migraine Cause Phantom Smell?
In fact, I was the one in danger. I am sensitive to smells, sound, and light as someone living with migraine. I have always known that smells are a trigger but never realized that my migraine smells are a symptom also. Even with experience and visual migraine aura, I have never thought about the phantom smells. I see dots and zig zags prior to a migraine attack. Smelling gas is a new migraine symptom realization for me.
The next day, I was hit with a migraine attack. Every day I learn something new about myself and my migraine disease. While spreading the word about migraine, I look at myself totally differently. I used to think I was a girl with a weak immune system who never felt well because of it. In reality, a lot, if not all, that I experience has to do with my migraine disease. It’s either symptoms, triggers, side effects from meds, or pre and post-migraine damage. It’s a life full of lessons and a roller coaster of feelings.
Olfactory hallucinations, also known as olfactory auras, are sensory disturbances that occur during a migraine attack. They involve alterations in the perception of smell. The aura phase may include olfactory hallucinations with perceiving odors that are not actually present in the environment. These smells can be unusual or unpleasant. Olfactory hallucinations typically last for a few minutes, but they can persist for up to an hour in some cases. Among those who experience migraine with aura, olfactory auras are less common compared to visual disturbances.
Migraine Phantom Smells vs. Olfactory Hallucinations
Prodrome: Migraine phantom smells occur typically in the prodrome phrase. This occurs before the onset of the acute phase, serving as a warning sign. It can last for hours or days leading up to the attack. Not always associated with aura; it can occur independently. Not everyone who experiences migraine will have a prodrome, and not all prodromes involve olfactory sensations.
Olfactory Hallucinations: Occur as part of the aura phase, which can precede or overlap with the acute phase. Part of the aura phenomenon can involve various sensory disturbances. Typically lasts for a few minutes, but can persist for up to an hour. Less common compared to visual disturbances among those who experience migraine with auras.
Do you Experience Migraine Phantom Smells or Olfactory Hallucinations?
It’s important to note that individual experiences with migraines can vary, and not everyone will experience all phases or symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing migraine attacks or related symptoms, it’s advisable to seek professional medical advice for proper evaluation and management.
At least I can say I’m learning. Another day, another migraine attack. Do you smell that?