Smelling disorders, including phantom smells and a lack of smell, can be a sign of serious health problems.
In a 2009 episode of “Mad Men,” a character with some major health issues — stroke and dementia — mysteriously smelled oranges while eating chocolate ice cream. Shortly after, the man dies while standing in line at the A&P.
It’s possible, says Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.
“By all means, a phantom smell could mean something serious,” says the psychiatrist and nationally recognized smell and taste expert. “It absolutely needs to be evaluated. It could be a tumor – that’s on the top of your list of things to rule out — but it could also be a cyst or some infectious agent housed in the area of the brain where the smell is processed.”