Metallic Smell in the Nose

People, at time say that they are experiencing odd or unusual smell in nose. A feeling of metallic smell in nose is one of the most common symptoms of underlying health problems in the respiratory, neural and circulatory systems. Sometimes however, this smell may also arise out of non threatening causes and so should not be a source of worry, especially if it only occurs once in many years and lasts for a few seconds or minutes.

What causes metallic smell in nose?

Starting with the basics, the environment around you may actually contain metallic smelling substances. You can confirm this by moving away from the place or asking the people around you if they smell the same. If not, then the problem may be within you.

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People with migraines for instance tend to complain about strange smells in their noses. Apart from metallic tang, the odor may shift to that of rotten eggs or burning flesh. This usually goes away on its own until the next migraine aura.

Tonsils and gum disease may also cause this condition. A combination of certain bacteria in the mouth can produce a range of volatile components, some of which the brain may interpret as metal smell.

Neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease may also bear these symptoms, especially at their onset.

There are other instances where a person may get injuries in their olfactory nerves or in the part of brain that interprets smell, leading to a condition, Parosmia. The former usually occurs as a result of smelling corrosive chemicals, while head damage may arise from many factors including accidents and fights.

In addition to these, certain medications and treatment may also lead to this feeling. The most common is chemotherapy.



As you can see, there are many circumstances that may make one to feel this way. Some patients will only be affected by one condition while others will have a combination of these. The diagnosis usually starts with the doctor looking at the most obvious causes and proceeding to the more rare ones, if no connection is found in previous tests.

Patients experiencing strange metallic smell in nose can be classified into two groups, according to the mechanism by which the smell or perceived smell is generated.

When the source of an odor actually exists, like in the case of gingivitis or tonsillitis, and it can be established that one or more of these conditions are actually causing the discomfort, the patient is said to be experiencing parosmia. Parosmia may also be confirmed by subjecting the patient to UPSIT diagnosis, where they are given different smelly substances and asked a set of structured questions.

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On the other hand, if the “smell” is imaginative, in that there is no smell at all, the patient is categorized as phantosmic. Such patients are more likely to be suffering from migraines, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and mood disorders among other mental problems. The conditions in this second category are usually diagnosed when tests for parosmia fail.

metallic smell in nose


Effects of metallic smell in nose

This feeling may cause discomfort and panic to the victim. Although no medication may be required for once in a while attacks that don’t last more than a few minutes, it is still advisable to go for check up, especially if you experience this more than twice in a year.

If there are infections in the upper respiratory tract or existence of problems in the mouth, the smell may continue to bother the victim until those issues are not addressed.

In the case of mental conditions like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, without treatment of this symptom, the patient might start experiencing more intense and annoying smells like that of feces or rotten eggs. For other factors like Parkinson’s disease, the overall sense of smell will grow weaker and completely vanish as the diseases progress.


Treatments for metallic smell in nose

The treatment method will depend on both the cause of the condition and its severity. Expectant mothers for instance may experience this feeling due to the nausea that accompanies pregnancy. In that case, simple anti- nausea prescriptions will solve the problem.

For mood disorders, one or more appropriate intervention may be pursued. This may involve administration of a drug such as venlafaxine , together with self hypnosis, counseling and even massage.

For gum disease, tonsils or digestive tract infections, the patient may opt to take smell suppressing prescriptions as they continue with treatment of the conditions. Cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy may also ask their doctors for the possibility of taking smell suppressants.

Sometimes, patients, especially those who have acquired serious head or nasal injuries, may have to undergo brain operation to remove olfactory bulbs in order to eliminate future discomforts. This however is always taken as the last option.

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