I Smell Non-existent Cigarette Smoke

Updated on January 22, 2012
N.O. asks from Chicago, IL
24 answers

For the past few days I've almost constantly smelled cigarette smoke - which I know to be non-existent. We have a non-smoking home (although I smell it in random places as well, not just at home), and if I ask my husband or someone else if they smell it too, they never do. I am 100% confident that this is some sort of olfactory hallucination.
I am 38 weeks pregnant, so I don't know if this might be a weird side effect of crazy hormones. Has anyone else experienced this? And if so, do you have any solutions? I am getting some low grade headaches from the smell.

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S.W.

answers from Rockford on

I am glad you posted this! I smell non-existent cigarette smoke sometimes too! And, I am not even prego! I would be interested to hear the cause!

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M.B.

answers from Chicago on

This has happened to me in the past, althought not while pregnant. I thought I was going crazy!! I went to an ENT and I had a ct scan which showed swelling in my olfactory nerve. The Dr. prescribed nasal spray and this cleared up the problem. Some sort of congestion/virus thing, I guess.

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E.P.

answers from Chicago on

Maybe mention it to your doctor but I wouldn't worry too much. As long as you have ruled out any concerns in your home, regarding furnace or gas smells, I would chalk this up to a pregnancy smells.

Usually, I have an excellent sense of smell. However, with my one pregnancy, ANYTHING that had the slightest amount of vinegar in it, turned into an ammonia smell, on my nose. Yes, my husband DID return the newly opened mayonnaise, twice, because I insisted it was rancid. Then... I insisted the ketchup was bad, the pickles were bad.... it became pretty clear that it was me, not them. Funny!

Congratulations!

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

Oh....LOL!!! Ditto to you - sense of smell is definitely heightened in pregnancy. I'm sure you have nothing to worry about, once you get your bundle of joy, everything will return to normal SLOWLY.
Congrats!

1 mom found this helpful
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S.W.

answers from Rockford on

I am glad you posted this! I smell non-existent cigarette smoke sometimes too! And, I am not even prego! I would be interested to hear the cause!

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N.S.

answers from Chicago on

happened to me with all my pregnancies!

First check your oven and gas to rule out a leak -- we had one that was tiny and no one else smelled it. Even the gas company couldn't initially find it.

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H.

answers from Chicago on

I'm so glad to hear somebody else experiences this too! I am finding that it seems to follow my cycle...its like an early warning that my period is coming.

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S.E.

answers from Chicago on

First of all women have a better sense of smell than men do. You could be smelling something outside or just the mustiness in the air. I can be outside and if the neighbor is outside smoking I can smell it and our houses are a block apart. With houses all open letting all the fresh air in, there is also the not so fresh air that comes in, so it might not be your mind playing tricks on you at all.
On top of that sometimes once we do smell something and ask our husbands, "Do you smell that?" (or course they smell nothing) then our minds play tricks on us. We know we smelled something and want to smell it again so we can say "How can't you smell that?"

God Bless,
S.

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V.S.

answers from Chicago on

Have you ever been a smoker? or lived with one? If so, you have absorbed smoke toxins that are stored in your fat cells. You may have been releasing these toxins for a long time, and only smell it now due to the increased sensitivity from your pregnancy.

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J.J.

answers from Chicago on

I'm not pregnant but I am also very sensitive to cigarette smoke. I can smell it if someone has it on their clothes, or if my husband has been anywhere that there is second-hand smoke, or if someone with it on their clothes has been in an elevator (now empty) that I am entering, or if I walk through an area on the sidewalk where someone has walked with smoke on their clothes. I can smell it from the back of a restaurant when someone is outside the restaurant smoking on the sidewalk. I can smell it when no one else can. I know how it is.

I hope that your birth went very well.

J.

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T.S.

answers from Peoria on

I'm not sure of your circumstances, but I smell smoke whenever I run my air conditioner. I need to get the filters cleaned because the previous owner of my house smoked like a chimney. HTH!

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D.K.

answers from Chicago on

Perfectly normal. It's part of that old fight or flight reflex, pregos smell WAY better than everyone else for survival purposes. My sense of smell hasn't left since my daughter 10 years ago. It's terrible when you're married to a man who probably shouldn't eat wheat and won't give up his occasional beer lol. I can smell a dirty diaper from four rooms away! lol.

Enjoy your baby! They grow too quickly!
D.

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S.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hello,
Yes, this happened to me too.
I had a greater sense of smell when I was pregnant.
I still can smell things that my husband doesn't.
I think women in general have greater sense of smell then men do.

I don't know what to do to make it better.
But, maybe use a carpet deodorizer on on your carpet?

Has your house had a prior owner? It's possible that they smoked.
The smell was always there, but because of your heightened smell, you are just smelling it now. Or, I bet if you walked around the neighborhood, you would find that one of your neighbors is on their back porch smoking. It could be several houses away, but with your pregnancy nose, you'll smell it, like it was right outside your window.
Also, was your husband around someone who smokes? The smell could still be on his
clothes or jacket?

Congratulations on your pregnancy. I hope the "smell" goes away soon!

S

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E.K.

answers from Chicago on

N. - I totally smelled the same thing when I was pregnant! I don't know why it happens, but one's hormones are so out of whack, etc., during this time that it's got to have something to do with it. I'm sorry you're getting headaches too - that was totally me as well. My only advice is to hang in there - it'll get better once you're no longer pregnant. Although it went away for me for the most part, every once in a while my "heightened sense" of smell will still pick up scents no one else can - ha. Once in a while, though, is a big improvement over all the time - so it WILL get better. Good luck!

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N.P.

answers from Chicago on

I hate cigarette smoke so much that if someone is smoking 3 houses away, or in the car near me, I can smell it. Luckily my children and husband hate it too so usually they smell it as well. If a smoker comes to your house and sits in places the smell does linger even if they didn't actually smoke there.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

You are not crazy - I totally understand what you're saying!

With my first pregnancy, my garage smelled like something so totally foul (couldn't place it) that I dry-heaved every time I went in there. I would literally have to run to the car.

This time around (I'm 16 weeks) I smell gasoline. Same thing as you - I smell it in the garage and in the house but no one else (and lots have checked it out) smells it but me.

Good luck - 2 more weeks (or so) to go! Enjoy these last few weeks of it just being you and your husband, take advantage of a long, lingering breakfast and get ready for the most fun ride of your life - bringing home your new baby!

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K.H.

answers from Chicago on

No, you're not crazy, I experienced the same thing. Although I wouldn't say that you're having olfactory hallucinations, I think your sense of smell is just heightened. When I was pregnant, if my husband ate garlic, even a small amount, like in salad dressing, I could smell it. Even after brushing and mints. I remember geting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom - when I returned to the bedroom the smell of garlic was overpowering! This continued until I had the baby. Now I'm back to not smelling the garlic on him anymore.

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M.B.

answers from Chicago on

This has happened to me in the past, althought not while pregnant. I thought I was going crazy!! I went to an ENT and I had a ct scan which showed swelling in my olfactory nerve. The Dr. prescribed nasal spray and this cleared up the problem. Some sort of congestion/virus thing, I guess.

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J.J.

answers from Las Vegas on

FOR 3 YEARS. After extensive MRI's, CAT Scans, sinus surgeries, X-Rays....It turns out to be ALLERGIES! I smelled smoke for 3 years. At first it wasn't odd since I am a fireman. So I discounted it. Up until I transferred to a specialty station that no longer handles structure fires. Maybe the smell was stuck in my turnout gear? Nope, Got new gear issued to me and there it was again. So off to specialists I go. In short, an over the counter allergy medication known as fexofenadine (ALLEGRA) without the pseudoephidrine, solved everything! I just so happened to borrow some from my engineer when I forgot my traditional/antihistamine medication of choice (Claritin & Zyrtec). I tried all other allergy meds in the past and over looked the Allegra stuff due to the cost and the ignorance that "all allergy and sinus meds are the same". Well it took a couple of doses for me to realize that I no longer smelled the smoke. After my second dose, I could almost time it to when the smoke smell would start to come back. In the beginning, I smelled a campfire-like smoke along with the burning eyes. After the fexofenadine, the smoke smell morphed to cigarette-like smell then ultimately to paper or lint-like burning smell. After 6 days of taking the allergy meds, the smell of burning has gone away. I can still sense when the medication is wearing down, when I start to smell a hint of smell like a hot dry summer day. DRINK A BUNCH OF WATER on this stuff. Not saying that this is the cure, since I don't dare discontinue taking the allegra yet. However, it has given me back my sanity. The guys at work razzed me about it for years saying it was my brain cells spontaneously combusting! I hope this info helps someone. I would try each med until I found the one that worked. I imagine that each of us have a different reaction to the various OTC allergy meds, name brand to generic. Give it a shot! I CAN FINALLY SMELL THE ROSES!!!

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B.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi N.,

When your pregnant, your sense of smell increases about 10 times. I could smell cigarettes while driving two cars ahead of me. There will be times that some smells will make you feel sick. I hated smelling brats for a long time. Pretty normal though, so need not to worry.

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V.M.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same thing in my pregnancy. Still, put it on your list of thing to mention to your doctor on your next visit. If the smell continues after your delivery, it might not just be the pregnancy hormones messing with you.

A.G.

answers from Chicago on

i had the same problem with my second and third pregnancies. i was convinced that smoke from the gentleman who lives behind us (we live in a quad-type townhome) was seeping through the walls. No one but me ever smelled it, though. it was strange. plus, the smell of smoke made me nauseated. i never mentioned it to my doctor; i just thought it had to be coming from somewhere but i just put up with the nausea from it.

mention it to your doctor and see what he/she says. maybe it IS a pregnancy thing. i would be curious to hear what your dr says, if you don't mind posting an outcome.

good luck with your delivery!

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

Chances are that you're fine. It's his senses that are not picking up the odor. He may hang his coat at work next to a smokers coat or take a break with someone that smokes etc. Your senses are extremely keen while pregnant. His are probably dull and he just doesn't smell it. I have a non smoking household. Someone opens my front door to come in and I can smell it from the kitchen on the back side of the house. I smoked for 30 years and quit. I can smell cigarette smoke in the air outdoors on a breezy day.

L.K.

answers from New York on

I am not pregnant and have had this same sensation for 4 months now. I am at a loss as to what it may be.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

Oh, it's absolutely hormones! I insisted I could smell the dog! I'd say to my husband, "Don't you smell that?" He'd just smile. :-) Later in my life when trying HRT my experience was very similar. Strange, but true! I'm confident you will be free of this once your hormones have settled after delivery.

J.

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

I have always been very sensitive to cigarette smoke. I can smell it before any else and I can tell if someone previously smoked in an area. And it was more often and I guess stronger when I was pregnant. It drives my sister nuts because she cannot deny she had a cigarrete. Now that the weather is warmer and windows are open, you may be picking up on someone passing by with a smoke.

BTW, we have been in our home for 8 years. The previous owners smoked. Even though we used TPA to wash the walls, I can still smell it sometimes on the back porch. It is not something that easily goes away.

Next question: Smoking/Should We NOT Be Able to See Grandaughter in Our Home for a Short Period