Phantom smells
chronic illness,  Hemiplegic Migraine,  Migraine

The Truth about Phantom Smells

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One of the Migraine symptoms that my husband and I are able to find humor in is my ability to smell the strangest things before a migraine. This phenomenon is called Phantosmia, Olfactory Hallucinations or in simple terms, phantom smells. Basically, it means smelling things that are not there. It sounds strange but it is actually fairly common for migraineurs to experience.

This symptom is part of the Prodrome phase of a migraine (the phase before the migraine actually begins). If you are able to recognize them, they can be a warning sign for the looming Migraine.

My most common smell is fresh baked Blueberry Muffins. No matter where I was…I would smell blueberry muffins before my migraine episodes. Honestly, it was kind of funny in the beginning until I realized it was tied to my migraines.

Phantom smells The other night, I experienced a different smell that wasn’t nearly as delightful as blueberry muffins. I smelled smelly feet! No matter where I moved…smelly feet! I even made my husband move a hamper…just in case it was real.

So, whether it is something as pleasant as blueberry muffins or as displeasing as smelly feet, these “smells” seem very real. Then the smells wither away, turning into torturous pain and sickness.


  • Honor Eastman

    This morning I smelled freshly baked blueberry muffins. I have no serious attachment to blueberries, but was moved to go purchase ingredients to bake some. I do not get migraines.

  • Anna

    This was really interesting! I get migraines multiple times per week and I thought I was crazy for smelling things that weren’t there. I never connected the two… Now I’ll have to pay attention.

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