Sanity check needed: smelling smoke or hallucinating?

For the last few weeks I’ve been smelling cigarette smoke off and on, at random times. When it happens at work, it’s easy to assume that I just have a cube-neighbor who went out for a smoke and came back to stink the place up. But when it happens at home - nobody at home smokes - when I doubt my sanity.

I’ve also been having problems with snoring, and it took me a LONG time to get over a cold, so it’s possible that I have a sinus infection. Can that cause that feeling, ie. that dessicated air smell that ciggies give off? Am I losing my mind?

Oh, I should add that I’m not a smoker and never have been. But I was raised in a house with smokers, as many have. So maybe it’s some lingering effect from that?

Certain seizures are experienced as olfactory sensations that are not truly there.

Changes in the nervous system with age also can be perceived as olfactory sensations. As can changes in the condition of the sinuses/cribriform plate such as with prolonged colds and sinus infections and allergies.

Olfactory hallucinations are not unusual in certain mental disorders, too.

Hope that cheered you up.

I assume you live in a single family residence or you would have mentioned it since if you’re in an apartment I would just work on the assumption that it’s a neighbor.

But, even if you do live in a regular house, are all your windows closed? Is it possible a neighbor is smoking and it’s drifting in?

Does it ever happen when no one is home? I don’t know if you have kids or how old they are, but there’s a difference between “I smell smoke but no one smokes” and “I smell smoke when no one’s home”.

Not to worry you, but I found ways to smoke in the house when my whole family was home and no one knew (And no one smoked in the house). It didn’t take much going wrong for a few wafts of smoke to go the wrong way and blow in instead of out and make that area smell like smoke for a little while. Depending on how your house is set up, someone smoking in or near it (even just a neighbor) could be the culprit.

It happens when we’re inside the house with all the windows closed. It’s just hubby and me, neither smokes.

What is smells/feels like is when there is a smoker a few yards away. Not so close that you can really smell it, but the air you breath feels dessicated like what ciggie smoke does. Sometimes it actually kind of chokes me because I can’t catch a breath. After a few seconds it ebbs.

Thanks Qadgop for confirming that it could be related to sinus problems. I was thinking of making an appt with an ENT, but wasn’t sure if I’d sound crazy. I never heard of these kinds of symptoms before.

If I may commiserate, I occasionally get bad ear infections that cause me to smell a ghost odor. I can only describe it as a combination of peanut butter and dog poop. I realized it must be a ghost odor because my earwax doesn’t smell like that, and I smelled the exact same thing for 3 sequential infections spaced many months apart. You have my sympathies!

I periodically have a few-day span when I persistently smell something bad. Usually unwashed clothes or cat pee, for me (husband promises the odors don’t really exist, and he is sensitive). Often happens during cold and allergy seasons, so I think Qadgop is onto something.

Or we’re both crazy together.

I sometimes smell, not smoke exactly, but the smell associated with a smoker in the house. I don’t smoke and my landlord has never allowed smoking in here. Anyway, sometimes I smell it in my brand new car. So it must be me.

Do you get migraines? ~ 4% of us have scent related auras and burning stuff or trash seems the most common. I’ve smelled burnt butterscotch myself.

Can’t say about cigarette smell, but, my own experience is:

  1. When I have a sinus infection, I smell ‘wet dog’ smell.
  2. About 20 years ago, I would smell burning toast. Whenever I smelled it, and there was no burning toast, about a day later, I would have a HORRIBLE sinus infection/flu/WTF sickness, that would usually incapacitate me totally for a minimum of 3 days.
    Point being: Could be a sickness coming on.

I had that cigarette smell hallucination for almost 5 months. It started suddenly one day. I thought maybe it was because I sat with a smoking coworker in the outdoor smoking area. But it wouldn’t wash off when I took my shower. It went on and on until then it stopped. It was very irritating.

I hope yours goes away soon.

StG

Well, that’s what HE says. Or maybe [del]his girlfriend[/del] a platonic friend smokes. :smiley:

[quote=“JcWoman, post:1, topic:724410”]

For the last few weeks I’ve been smelling cigarette smoke off and on, at random times. When it happens at work, it’s easy to assume that I just have a cube-neighbor who went out for a smoke and came back to stink the place up. But when it happens at home - nobody at home smokes - when I doubt my sanity.

I’ve also been having problems with snoring, and it took me a LONG time to get over a cold, so it’s possible that I have a sinus infection. Can that cause that feeling, ie. that dessicated air smell that ciggies give off? Am I losing my mind?

**Oh, I should add that I’m not a smoker and never have been. But I was raised in a house with smokers, as many have. So maybe it’s some lingering effect from that?[/**QUOTE]

Bolding added.

Do you have any new or used clothing or other articles that might be carrying a lingering odor? Something that you have recently got? It could be anything. Even a book. Furniture moved into your office. Something bought at a garage sale. A gift from someone who smokes.

My younger sister gave us some brand-new, never used, bath towels that had been sitting in her closet. They reeked so bad that even after several washings they were exiled to the shop to be used to dry my car. Gave up after a couple tries and just burned them.

I was never able to get rid of the smell, a smell that others might not have noticed. Smoke smell can get inside of little things that you have cleaned the best you can, but never get rid of the smell. Family heirlooms, etc.

From inside my house, I can smell if someone walking past on the sidewalk is smoking, about 30-40ft away - my house windows closed. In my car, I can smell when a car near me at a stoplight has a smoker blowing smoke out an open window, even with my windows closed. In your situation, I wouldn’t rule out a smoking neighbor.

I got a new jacket for Christmas a few years ago. I will check the fabric tomorrow and report back. It will reek of cigarette smoke for days if I sit anywhere near a smoker. Reek to the point where people will be offended. Somehow it amplifies the smell of nicotine.

It seems to be going away, gradually. I’ve been using Flonase, and I’m not sure if that’s it. I have also noticed, now that I’ve been paying attention to it, that I do pass by smokers fairly frequently in my travels. For example, at my office, the smokers hang around the back door stinking the place up, so we have to walk through their cloud to go in or out. (I hate that.)

Freshly-cut grass. I first smelled it while on an upper floor of a skyscraper downtown, in winter. It was the damndest thing.

FTR, Flonase gave me weird smells, too. Feces, as I recall. I quit it.

Yes!

Sinus infection. See your doctor and get it cleared up. If it goes on and on it can become serious.

It happened to me too. Started several years ago at work, and like others, thought it was either coworkers sneaking a smoke, or someone outside near a vent, and the smoke coming in. That lasted several months, then went away.

I still smell it on occasion, even though I left that job almost 4 years ago. When I do smell it, it reminds me of when I would come home from a bar or club (I never really smoked, ie, I tried it when I was 12, but didn’t like it).