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John asked...

Recently had angio surgery

I recently had angio surgery and had 9 stents fitted. I do not know if there is a connection but since that time I have experienced problems with retained "smell". If I experience a strong odor in the atmosphere, that small can be retained for houses in my senses. I get NO help, advice or interest from GP, pharmacy or internet! ENT consultant could find nothing wrong in my nasal passage. Any help or advice would be much appreciated. It is really causing me a problem now.

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The answer

There are a wide range of possible causes of the condition you describe, known as phantosmia, which include: nasal infection, nasal polyps, migraine with aura – some people smell phantom odors just before or during a migraine or before a seizure, dental problems, smoking , exposure to certain chemicals such as insecticides or solvents, radiation for treatment of head and neck cancers. Your ENT specialist would have ruled these out hopefully.

Less common, the cause can be either nerve cells sending abnormal smell signals to the brain, or a problem with the brain itself. This may be the result of an illness affecting the central nervous system, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, stroke ,head injury or a cancer – this can be a brain mass or neuroblastoma (a rare cancer that may start in the olfactory nerve). We would suggest seeing your GP again if this continues to be a problem and discuss referral to a neurologist for assessment.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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