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Do you have a keen sense of smell ?

(37 Posts)
Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 12:58:57

How has it affected you ? my strong smell sense has resulted in having to change jobs in the past, and more recently may have to consider a new church, all because i seem to smell things other people don't. The smell is there and i can locate the source, but it's just not strong enough for others to smell iyswim. It's very difficult explaining it to people as i've had people say i'm being 'silly' or 'unkind', they just don't understand it's a real problem.

I also associate some smells with a colour, for instance a rotting flesh smell would be green or yellow, a pleasant floral smell would usually be lilac etc. Just wondered wether there were others here.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 13:06:05

That's just like me! The way I cope is by knowing it's a double edged sword. I smell disgusting things no one else can... But I can also smell beautiful scents in the same way. I find it can be overwhelming if I allow it, like letting all the smells of the beach wash over me.

I associate roses with yellow, poop with grey etc but I more visualise (warning: Going to sound really strange here) scenarios that haven't happen. If I smell roadkill, I visualise what sort of car killed it, how the animal came to pass, how long it's been decomposing, someone finding it and grieving etc.

Okay, I sound crazy, don't I?

Should never have watched Perfume: Portrait of a Serial Killer...

Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 13:13:56

How do you deal with it in social situation ? so say someone you work with has a really bad smell from e.g a leg ulcer, how do you manage that situation ?

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 13:39:29

TBH I haven't yet. sad I breathe through my mouth a lot and have OTT oral hygiene because I can smell my own breathe.

The closest I'm come to a 'solution' with people who smell bad (or are wearing chemical perfume) is stand as far away as etiquette will let me, try and take mainly through my mouth and always make sure I have a drink of something sweet to take into, such as a pungent juice. I also dab essential oils that I enjoy as perfume and will casually raise my arm as if to sneeze if it's truly making me nauseated and take a deep whiff.

I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. sad Even when I have a blocked nose it feels like I just smell what people 'usually' smell!

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 13:40:11


Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 13:58:03

hmm... the work situation was awful as this particular person was in my team. Then we were allocated to the same project where he had to shadow me everywhere. Poor chap had a life threatening condition that meant a particular smell emanated from him. Smell filled the whole office daily, but only i could smell it. I spent months feeling ill, overcome with nausea, retching etc, trying to hold my breath for so long resulted in chest pains, in the end i left. The chap was actually one of the nicest people you could meet and we got on really well, and we would discuss treatments etc, but i was struggling physically to be in his presence.

Been attending a local church for just a yr now, and similar problem, a regular member has a bandaged leg and uses crutches, im guessing its an advanced ulcer, smell takes over the whole church as soon as he come in, nobody else smells it except me and ds2, again lovely decent elderly fellow, someone i would like to have a chat with, but can't go near him. I now sit at the far opposite end of where he sits, but its no use! im now having to consider finding another church, all because of a leg ulcer sad

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 14:14:15

You poor thing! sad

Have you tried putting Vaseline under --and in--your nostrils at church? Anyone who notices or is rude enough to ask, you can always say you have a terrible cold/chest infection/made up illness. Will keep people away for one and two the close to your nostrils the less you'll smell. I'd suggest certain types of oils but I tried them in my teens and burned myself quite badly. sad

I no longer go to church (only one in area) for a few similar reasons but don't want to out myself. I truly hope the same doesn't happen to you.

Question: Do you ever wonder why people like us are like this? I never hear about it. Until your post family and friends had me convinced I was batty.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 14:14:51

P.S. I always use Vaseline in hospitals because... The smells... Shudder I'm sure you know what I mean.

FoundAChopinLizt Wed 08-May-13 14:19:12

I have a keen sense of smell. Sometimes the whole town seems to smell of dog shitsmile

If I have flowers I can smell the florist smell iyswim, as well as the flower smell.

Department stores are hell, with all the perfume.

I hold my breath a lot if people are smoking in the street.

As a child I remember if a perfumey mothballey lady got on the bus I really hated it.

Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 14:31:27

SpecialAgent - well I don't know what to do (didn't know vaseline could mask smells, will try it) i can't talk to anyone about it as people just turn on you and think you're a nasty person. A while back a poster on MN posted about her 5yr old have serious problems with a child that had incontinence bowel problems in his class and how the smell was affecting her child's learning (dc couldn't follow the lesson and was heaving). She explained she felt for the poor child with the health problem but didn't know how to help her own child. All the posters turned on her calling her cruel, wicked, selfish etc in the end i'm guessing the OP was left sobbing into her PC.

We can't be the only few! i manage to stomach most smells (everyone in my office has a particular breath smell, boss' breath in particular has a very sharp chest clutching smell ), but rotting ulcer's etc are really hard to 'stomach' sad

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 14:31:27

Perfume is up there as the worst smell in the world. They all smell the same. Chemical ridden garbage with a fake flowery hint behind the detergent...

Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 14:41:29

I can stomach perfume smells, its the really awful ones, i can smell when someone is having a heavy period and needs to change, i can definitely smell my own breath hence i never speak to anyone before brushing and can't understand how people kiss first thing in the morning confused.

I read in an online article that people with a keen sense of smell are usually people who worry a lot, which is interesting as I am a worrier
apparently laid back people tend to have a weaker (or just normal) sense of smell.

I can't cope with the smell people have when they are about to come down with a cold or sore throat. Fortunately I can only smell it when I'm standing very close to them.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 14:51:41

Wow Gunz that's just like me! confused I smell periods (it's horrible when you smell yourself, in public isn't it? The paranoia others can too just eats me up inside) DH knows there are no kisses without us both using thorough oral hygiene.
He kisses my forehead every morning instead as he adores intamcy, which is sweet but makes me feel terrible because I can smell his breath and sweat even though he's being kind. He wants to snuggle naked after sex and I just want us both to bathe, bathe, bathe. Feel so guilty. sad

I also have very bad anxiety... I wonder what the 'link' is?

Oh and (lighthearted) anyone who uses Lynx is banished from my household! grin

NorbertDentressangle Wed 08-May-13 14:56:46

I thought I had quite a keen sense of smell but on reading this I certainly don't on the same level as you all do

DP refers to me as 'bloodhound Dentressangle' at times when I can smell things he can't eg. for weeks I could smell a damp, wet wood smell which he couldn't. It turned out was a very slow leak from the dishwasher which had caused the wooden floor underneath to get damp.

When I was pregnant though it used to get me down as it was really heightened. I was sick a few times after getting wafts of smells. The worst was the smell of a fridge, even one at work that people just used for packed lunches (in Tupperware containers) and milk in closed plastic bottles. It was as if opening the door let out this concentrated smell that had been building up forever.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 08-May-13 15:42:13

Hello fellow acute scent sniffers - me too. I also associate smells with colours too, which most people think is very freaky.

I lived and worked in London for 20 years, which was torturous. The tube in the summer was like my own personal hell. I used to always try to have a very light scarf but mostly spent alot of time breathing through my mouth.

I can smell things like people coming down with a cold too, can smell ear wax, can tell exactly how many days it has been since someone has washed their hair. One of my worst smells is those people who get vomit breath when they drink beer. Doesn't happen to all beer drinkers but certain people get vom breath when they drink beer - very odd.

When I was pregnant my sense of smell was even more acute, which was a nightmare. Spent alot of time retching through pregnancies, nothing to do with morning sickness just smells!!!!

DS also has a very acute sense of smell, possibly even more so than mine and can pick things out from miles off. He is ASD, so I don't know if the sensory issues ASD people tend to have, make it worse.

Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 15:52:23

Postbellum - I smell the 'vomit' breath too shock, i can't smell people coming down with a cold but i can smell my own cold! Awful smell. Do you have a lot of anxiety ? its all just weird. Only ds2 seems to have inherited my sense of smell, and he is about going for CBT for guess what.....? anxiety ( nothing to do with his nose) purely coincidental.

FoundAChopinLizt Wed 08-May-13 16:15:46

Swimming pools are awful too, like someone's raking your nostrils out.

And soft play, it's just cheesy feet, poo and damp sticky dusty smell..

PostBellumBugsy Wed 08-May-13 16:20:37

I am a worrier Gunznroses & DS is particularly anxious, which is part of his ASD (or at least I think it is).

Another odd thing I can smell is water. Just by sniffing it, I can tell if it is hard from chalk or lime and the water in parts of Ireland has an amazing sweet smell! Again, most people seem to think I am nuts when I say I can smell water.

Gunznroses Wed 08-May-13 16:57:50

Is there anyone else here with a keen sense of smell who also has anxiety or is a worrier PLUS a child with a neurological condition e.g Asd, OCD, Tourettes, ADHD ?

Is there anyone here with a keen sense of smell who is very laid back?

Not laid back. Some anxiety but it is treated. Aspergic traits.

One of my four children has both ASD and olfactory superpowers.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 22:32:17

I don't know if this counts, but my DSS has a neurological condition and he's lived solely with us since he was a very young baby.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Wed 08-May-13 22:32:35

And my Dsib has ASP

Gunznroses Thu 09-May-13 06:36:17

Unfortunately there aren't enough responses here to make a link, suppose even if the whole of MN responded if would still be thin BUT interesting.

Thank you all for your input.

hancat Thu 09-May-13 06:57:46

This is a fascinating thread. I suffered while pregnant with a heightened sense of smell, and couldn't walk down any of the cleaning products aisles at the supermarket; the chemical smell was so overwhelming. Luckily it was only temporary - I can hardly imagine how debilitating it is to live with permanently.

Out of interest, what is the 'coming down with a cold' smell like?

hancat Thu 09-May-13 07:00:41

(Meant to say - what was weird for me was being able to smell the chemicals 'underneath' the perfume they mask them with.)

PostBellumBugsy Thu 09-May-13 09:34:32

hancat, for me somone coming down with a cold has slightly sweet, metallic breath, this intensifies in the first day of the cold but then goes and is replaced with a mucus smell. For me it is very distinctive and seems to be the same for all people coming down with a cold.

As I get older, I am better able to manage my smell thing - or maybe it is just lack of choice. For example, my father has been in hospital alot recently & I find on first arriving in the hospital, I am assaulted by the smell & by the time I get up to the ward, full of elderly incontinent people with bed sores, ulcers and every other smelly condition it is only willpower & mouth breathing that is preventing me from retching - but after about 15 mins - I can breathe through my nose again. Oddly though, when I get outside, I can smell it all on my clothes and have to change when I get home.

Weird stuff!

hancat Thu 09-May-13 11:18:20

That's interesting as I can smell that smell on my dds before they get a cold, but never on adults. Perhaps with children they are still 'purer' so fewer competing bodily smells and therefore easier to pick out that distinct one. Or maybe it's just due to proximity/knowing them so well.

Glad that you find it easier to block the smells these days!

Gunznroses Thu 09-May-13 20:25:05

Postbellum - its horrible how the smell hangs on ones clothes isn't it? I don't get the mettallic smell of cold from others but i can smell my own. It starts with a very harsh dry greyish smell, then changes to the mucus smell, this lingers until about a week after the cold has actually cleared up.

You and a few posters have said you breath through your mouth when the smell gets too much, how do you do it ? When i smell someting foul i instinctively close my mouth very tight, if the smell accidently goes in mouth it feels with saliva and have to retch as it becomes to potent.

The 'coming down with a cold' smell is like an ill version of a coppery catarrh smell. Sort of like a rotting, snotty old coin. I cannot effectively describe how rank it smells. It makes me want to clamp my mouth closed, cover my nose and back away quickly, but that's not usually socially appropriate.

aPseudonymToFoolHim Thu 09-May-13 22:23:17

I have anosmia. I have no sense of smell AT ALL.
It also affects my ability to taste (I couldn't even tell you if a meal had 10 cloves of garlic in it)
It makes me paranoid and anxious because I can't smell myself, or clothes that may have been washed, dried, folded and put on DCs' beds then knocked to the floor, so unless there is someone trustworthy (rules out 5yo DS) to smell for me, it all has to go back in the wash.
I have to err on the side of caution, and sometimes I probably seem a bit stand offish, but it's just because I think my breath may smell of coffee/garlic etc, so I don't want to get too close or in deep conversation. I'm a fitness instructor, and have to teach 4 or 5 classes a day, so by the end of the day, I'm REALLY paranoid, though it would be that day's fresh sweat.

DoctorAnge Thu 09-May-13 22:26:33

I also have a very sensitive sense of smell indeed. I feel like I smell my way through life! DH always said I would have made a fortune in wines.

I suffer from GAD and panic disorder.

Bowednotbroken Thu 09-May-13 22:35:55

I recognise so much of what has been said above - loathe perfume, biological washing powders, fabric conditioner etc - could always smell when my kids were going to be ill etc. in my case it is linked to fibromyalgia - the best explanation I've read is that the central nervous system is turned up too high- so I'm oversensitive to light and sound too. Will have to try the Vaseline idea!

PostBellumBugsy Fri 10-May-13 11:06:22

Bowednotbroken, there is definitely something in the senses being more highly tuned. I suffer from sensory overload sometimes & my DS who is ASD suffers from this really badly.

There was a documentary on the TV about people who have synesthesia, where the senses are more highly tuned and can sometimes overlap the neurological pathways, so you smell in colour or see sounds - that kind of thing.

Self diagnosed, I would say I must have it to a certain degree, as I associate certain smells with colours and I find certain noises evoque colours too.

Gunsznroses, the mouth breathing thing doesn't kill the smell altogether and if it is really strong, I still get a whiff of it through my mouth, but for me it is slightly better than dragging the honk in through my nose. Always changed nappies and mopped up DC puke mouth breathing!

I also think I'm missing a trick not making a fortune in wine tasting too!

CheeryCherry Fri 10-May-13 11:29:09

Fascinating, I have a keen sense of smell, particularly on a morning where I cannot stomach many food particularly can make me retch. I can't cope with smelly breath..cigarettes, garlic, curry all make me heave. Love to inhale floral and fruity scents- u fill my nostrils when I can to try hold into it- though in hospital the strong smell of lilies was overwhelming. I am skilled in breathing through the mouth if I suspect a hideous smell, it saves me. I too can smell periods, and full nappies...
Have smelled gas outside a neighbours house...prevented a disaster as he hadn't realised. I smell smoke and burning at a thousand paces.
I do like having a keen sense of smell, I would miss it if it went.

Gunznroses Fri 10-May-13 17:17:00

Apart from vaseline wink what other type of coping mechanisms do people use, for difficult situations.

Threebees - your description of 'cold' smell is spot on ala 'rotting, snotty old cold'...uhum.

Bowednotbroken Fri 10-May-13 19:14:15

I can't stand the smell of flowers either though...

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