According to DrWeil., doctors call the medical condition in which someone smells something that is not there "phantosmia." A phantosmia is also known as an olfactory hallucination. Phantosmia can appear on its own as an olfactory disorder, when a person stops being able to smell normally. The condition can also occur alongside other symptoms in people with depression, epilepsy, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and brain tumors.
DrWeil states that phantosmia emerges when the brain responds to loss in olfactory ability or range by providing certain odors, which typically are unpleasant. Neurons that used to block odors such as these turn off, leaving people smelling something that isn't there. The scents a person with phantosmia smells do not necessarily remain constant. According to DrWeil, one woman with a clean bill of health smelled dirt at all times for around a year before she started smelling burnt chili and finally the smell of lavender instead.
This olfactory disorder often goes away on its own without requiring any medical treatment. A number of medicines exist that doctors use to treat the disorder. A surgical procedure on a part of a person's olfactory connections is also a possible method of resolving the issue, according to DrWeil.