Can migraines cause smell aurus


Quick question, can migraines cause smell aurus. I was diagnosed with MAV (not 100% sold on it, but that’s a different story that i discussed over in other illnesses section) 2 years go. Over the past 3 weeks I have developed a REALLY weird thing where I can smell burning rubber. I did a bit of Googling on this and everything that comes up is around brain tumour. The internet is a dangerous place. I’ve had two MRI’s done, my last being two years ago, so thinking (or hoping) it’s not that. But it seems really odds. This only developed last month so I’ve never mentioned it to my neurologist before. Wondering if i should go back to him to mention this.

Don’t get yourself worked up about a possible brain tumor. Lots of pathologies can cause smell abnormalities. A couple that come to mind are temporal lobe seizures (smell is sometimes described as burning cork) or phantosmia (smell described frequently as cigarette odor or other foul smell). It is also not uncommon for someone to have phantom smells after recovering from an upper respiratory infection. Have you had a cold recently? Is it a constant smell or intermittent? I’ll let others speaks about a possible migraine connection.


Yes- migraine can cause olfactory symptoms, i.e extra sensitivity to smells or smelling smells that aren’t there.

Dr Silver mentions this in many of his presentations. Example here: Page 6.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks who has written about migraine in many books and who largely writes in the style of many many case studies also talks about it. Example … ons-happen. He describes his own ‘smell hallucintations’ with migraine actually: "

"I usually get the zigzag, but I may also see lattice patterns, like tessellations; sometimes these lattice patterns seem to cover people’s faces or a piece of paper I’m writing on. I mostly get complex geometrical patterns; I’ve never actually seen … images with a migraine, although on at least on two occasions, I’ve had a smell — in particular a smell of hot buttered toast — with a strong sense that I was about 3 years old, being put in a high chair, and about to be given hot buttered toast. A sort of olfactory hallucination often goes along with recollection in that sort of way.

“The first time I got that, I was in hospital and I went searching for the toast. The second time, I was driving on the Bronx River Parkway, where there was obviously no toast to be had.”

As we are unfortunate enough to have ‘chronic’ migraine then I imagine it wouldn’t be unfeasible to have these smell symptoms every day. Sorry you have them- sounds horrible :frowning:

Yup, I get them. If I start to suddenly smell dirty garbage or vomit that isn’t there I know I’m in for it. Sure would be nice to smell something pleasant :slight_smile:

As others have mentioned, phantom smells can come from a lot of various issues. I imagine brain tumor is way down on the list in terms of probability. If it is your “worst or first” of a symptom, definitely mention it to your neuro, but in the mean time I probably wouldn’t panic about it. If it is really worrying you, how good is your doctor about returning phone calls?

This is a doctor describing migraine at the turn of the century:

“bright sparks are seen before the eyes…at one time
the person will feel as large as a barrel, at other times
not larger than a whip-stock, the head will feel light
or heavy, large or small. The smell becomes
perverted; the hypochondriac will smell odors where
there are none,the persons are subject to
turns…they are irritable, fretful, peevish and fickle"

I think the most common smells are burnt toast, burnt rubber, cigars, smoke, garbage, sewage, vomit all the best stenches…
Occassionally I think people get a pleasent odour such as flowers, oranges, coffee and apparently even foie gras!

Thanks for all the replies. The smells are not as frequent as other symptoms. They are just really weird. It feels like it travels all the way in my nose, down my throat. I have an appointment to see Dr Silver in a couple of weeks because I want a second opinion on all of this. Flying over from Ireland for it, so will mention it to him.

My neurologist isn’t the best at getting back to me or really listening to me

How long does the smell last when you get it?

I get this quite often and it is usually of flowers. I have laid in bed smelling a sweet smell of flowers and ended up smelling the duvet, the pillowcase, to try and see where its coming from. Its very weird.


DizzyforLife - I now get it about 3 or so times a week. Although I didn’t get it at all last week. When I get it, the smell only lasts for a few minutes or more. I then get it a couple of times throughout the day. It’s REALLY weird :frowning: