Why Does Your Sense of Smell Change With Fibromyalgia?

fibromyalgia sense of smell

Dealing with the fibromyalgia symptoms is not easy. In fact, it can be overwhelming for most. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be triggered by many factors such as weather, temperature, sound, food, stress etc. Sometimes, the symptoms can also be triggered by a scent or odor.

The Sensitive Syndrome

Fibromyalgia patients are said to be overly sensitive to many things such as noise, light, touch, temperature changes and even smell. Hypersensitivity can happen in many permutations for fibromyalgia patients. While one patient may find both sound and odor to be overwhelming and another may have difficulty in smelling. This explains how the fibromyalgia brain processes things, which is basically erratic and not the same for everyone. This sensory overload can affect the quality of life of most fibro patients.

There are some medications that can help a fibro patient facing hypersensitivity. Discuss this with your doctor when necessary. If the sensitivity becomes so severe, you can even be diagnosed with the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). This condition requires a different form of treatment.

How Smell Affects Your Fibromyalgia

Olfactory refers to the sense of smell. An olfactory impairment is common among people with fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. Detergents, scented perfumes and cleaning agents can make someone with olfactory impairment feel ill. It can lead to headaches, fatigue and nausea. Food smells can also make fibromyalgia patient feel sick to the point where they loses appetite. It is not uncommon that some patients choose to eliminate certain food from their diet due to its smell, even if the food is healthy for the patient.

The problem of smells among fibro patients has nothing to do with allergies. Thus, you cannot just take antihistamine and get away with it. The problem can become so severe that those who are affected may not feel comfortable to head out to public.

Dealing with Smells with Fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia and are becoming sensitive to smells, there are certain precautions you can take:

  • Try to keep everything unscented at home. This applies to detergents, soaps and cleaning agents. Choose hair sprays and shampoos that are unscented. Scented hair products can linger in your hair for an extended time.
  • Try to keep your home as well ventilated as possible.
  • When cooking, try to experiment with different herbs that do not produce very intense smells.
  • Always keep a mask with you, in your pocket or purse, so that you can easily put it on whenever you encounter a repelling smell.
  • Let your family and friends know about your sensitivity to smell. This is especially so for friends or family members who use strong smelling perfumes.


  • My sense of smell has decreased! I used to be able to smell anything anywhere now I rarely smell anything ever, unless it is very strong. Help ??? None for me as usual.
    Only for “some” that are too sensitive!!! Always half “help” that are common sense for most.

  • I have lost my sense of smell and of taste completely. Once in awhile I get at whiz of smell but not very offten. It is very aggravating because I never know if what I am eating is good or not. I have told my doctor several times about it but he never says anything.

  • I always had a good sense of smell but now it is overwhelming! Things that never use to bother me make me nauseous at times, has also increased my asthma sensitivity in relation to my allergies. I can’t walk down an aisle of scented candles or sprays, forget citronella! It induces an asthma attack if I don’t hold my breath while going down those aisles. I do all I can to avoid them. I’m also noticing increases in my sensitivity to light and sound.

    • You’re the first person whom I have heard of who has the same problems I have. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone.

    • Yes, I often get that, sometimes it is almost like blood, other times like a metal workshop, sometimes even hot metal. I also get a lot of random tastes in my mouth, usually like paracetamol, not nice. I don’t think that these ransom smells and tastes are hypersensitivity, but are related to something happening internally, like certain tablets cause tastes unrelated to them, as do certain hormonal and vitamin imbalances. But you’re not alone.

    • That sounds like Gerds Acid reflux which is related to Fibro ..Fibro affects all muscles even our heart is a muscle , so it would make sense to have this but not all Fibro pts. have Gerds . There are many who are told they have Fibro and truly they don’t other reason rather depression which can cause discomfort .. Since I started taking Savella I have more calming moments also along with A anti inflammatory I take 2000 mg a day and it does help nothing will ever make it go away but it helps unfortunately I have many complications with mine … Somedays I’m like damn I’m just 54 years old but I just keep plugging thru and again I have a fantastic doctor she is awesome and specializes in autoimmune diseases and disorders … that is most important to have that and a compassionate Dr.

  • My sense of smell is so sensitive but I didn’t know it was due to my Fibro. I can come into my house and will say it smells, and my husband and friends that are in here say, I don’t smell anything.

  • Oh definitely smell affected but another issue I have is skin sensitivity I can’t destinguish hot and cold which well hubby has to double check water when I do water for grandkids or I could burn them
    Not knowing it and water hurts my skin like I can’t got in hot tubs to relax muscles etc pool I have and is my form of exercise I do okay but it’s not pouncing water … I can’t sit down in tubs hurts to bad and hard to get up and I’m
    Not over weight only 110 pounds just hurts so I take showers but the watering hitting my skin actually hurts so I get in and out no like ahhhhh moments .. clothes hurt also so at home I’m in oversized shirts and shorts or lounging pants .. it sucks anybody else have that issue I was told it does happen in Fibro patients but rare and of course I have to be the rare one lol…

    • I have the same i found wearing nighties help my skin feels sore like it’s burnt at times and even after putting blusher on my cheeks hurt from the brush . My sense of smell is really bad at times and makes me angry and severe migraines sausage being the latest banned food in the house. I feel your pain sending gentle hugs

    • This could be me writing this the water from the shower hitting my skin is so painful and some days I could cry because clothes are so uncomfortable and that’s before I mention all the other things that makes your life so hard

  • I def can relate to Angelas post bcuz it sounds like me and the metal/blood taste and other tastes in my mouth like Tanith said! It’s crazy and i hate it! My hubby thinks I’m crazy!

  • I have nearly lost my sense of smell. I can only smell things if they are VERY strong smelling and then I have to get really close to the source. I have always had a keen sense of smell, so I miss this and it does affect the taste of food.

  • My issue is my mouth tasting like I’m inhaling second hand smoke. It just hits out of nowhere.
    There will be sometimes weeks go by with nothing and then suddenly it comes and lasts for weeks.

  • Thank you so much for writing this … I have extreme sensitivity to smells. I worked in a museum and detected a fire in the wall in the copy room long before it became evident to anyone else! Of course they thought I was crazy until they found the source! I cannot stand onions cooking, bus and diesel vechicles, mall smells and lights and I cannot wear touch or breath in rooms full of polyester and in rooms in hardwarestoresanything that off gases.

  • When a doctor diagnosed me with fibro, I thought he was crazy! I went in with sever back pain. So I went to another doc and they found i had several back problems. Thru the years I’ve gone to at least 4 doc, and each time I would ask.. Why does my back feel like someone is holding a hot iron to it, along with the throbbing pain? Every one said..I don’t know? It wasn’t until I read an article on this site, that I knew I wasn’t crazy. Along with that I slowly started having other problems. The 1st was my sense of smell being heightened. I can’t wear any perfumes I used too, and cant use many chemicals etc. Im extremely sensitive to light, and loud noise/music.

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