One In 15 Americans Smell Odors That Aren’t There

Sometimes people see things that aren’t really there, and a new study reveals sometimes people smell scents that aren’t actually present. Researchers from the National Institute On Deafness And Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) looked at data from over 7,000 participants over age 40 from a three-year survey that ended in 2014. They found that while the ability to identify odors tends to decrease with age, phantom odor perception seems to improve with age. Ultimately the data showed about 6.5 percent of Americans ages 40 plus experienced phantom odors. Researcher Dr. Judith Cooper adds, “Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences, and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks, and spoiled food.” The next step researchers want to take is to figure out why some people smell phantom odors, and find ways to prevent or treat the condition.