The medical term for a heightened or increased sense of smell is hyperosmia. Also known as olfactory hyperesthesia and hyperesthesia olfactoria, the word “hyperosmia” is a combination of the Greek work “hyper,” meaning “above,” and the Greek word “osme,” meaning “sense of smell.” Put together, hyperosmia is an abnormally increased sensitivity to smells and odors.
At PatientsLikeMe, where more than 120,000 patients are sharing their experiences with conditions, symptoms, treatments and more, approximately 100 patients report having a heightened sense of smell. The majority rate their hyperosmia as either “moderate” (42%) or “severe” (28%). Interestingly, their primary conditions range from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) to multiple sclerosis (MS) to migraines, showing that this disconcerting symptom can occur for many different types of patients – and not just pregnant women.
Searching for this phenomenon in our forum discussions, several interesting things are revealed. For example, some patients report that strong smells have triggered their migraines or seizures, while others say their increased or heightened sense of smell is so acute that it’s like “tasting” the odors. Several patients report experiencing “phantom odors” that no one else is able to detect, and at least one says she started smoking cigarettes to help mask the intensity of smells around her.
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Can you relate to any of these first-hand reports? These are the kind of insights you can only glean from other patients who are also experiencing a heightened sense of smell. So if you have hyperosmia, and you’d like to learn more about it, join PatientsLikeMe and connect with others like you today.