Ghost smells are real. While they have always been around, it wasn’t until recently that a study proved how common they are. One in 15 Americans over the age of 40 report smelling scents that don’t exist.
While smelling things that aren’t there sounds innocent enough, the study discovered that phantom smells can affect your life negatively and that there’s a correlation between people who have poor health and who are of low economical status.
Phantom smells are almost always bad, with the most commonly reported ones including rotten eggs, garbage and spoiled food. Women are affected twice as often as men, and they’re more common among older people. The smells can occur among people who suffer from a tumor, head injury, epilepsy, and sinus infections, but they can also affect patients that are seemingly healthy.
“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,” reports Science Daily. Another scientist claims that patients who perceive strong phantom odors often have a “miserable quality of life,” and that they “sometimes cannot maintain a healthy weight.”
This study is one of the first that focuses on phantom odors, so not much is known about where it comes from and why it occurs. Kathleen Bainbridge, the doctor that lead the study, claims that the research is an important first step to understanding this medical condition, giving future doctors context and information that may help them understand why it happens.