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Olfactory hallucinations or phantosmia occur where a person experiences a smell without the appropriate stimulus molecules being present. The most common odors are unpleasant smells such as rotting flesh, vomit, urine, feces, smoke, etc.
A number of factors may give rise to the phenomenon. They often results from damage to the nervous tissue in the olfactory system. The damage can be caused by viral infection, brain tumor, trauma, surgery, and possibly exposure to toxins or drugs. Phantosmia can also be induced by epilepsy affecting the olfactory cortex and is also thought to possibly have psychiatric origins.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Phantosmia is different from parosmia, in which a smell is actually present, but perceived differently from its usual smell.