General Question

LoriP's avatar

What is it when you smell burnt toast and there is none?

Asked by LoriP (1 points ) May 8th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Sometimes, that is a symptom of some disorders. You should tell your Doctor, sooner rather than later.

jrpowell's avatar

I have heard this can be a sign of a stroke. It might be a good idea to get on the phone if this is happening to you.

Maybe send Nikipedia a comment too.

akacruise's avatar

It could be an “aura”. Something that happens just before the beginning of a seizure. Some people have strange sensations of smells or sight disorders etc. If you are not epileptic I would suggest you see a doctor right away as well as this is by no means at all an attempt at a diagnosis:):) Please do not let it go, have it checked out.

bluesman's avatar

its called an’ olfactory hallucination’. fairly common, I think.

richmarshall's avatar

Be safe rather than sorry with health concerns.

shilolo's avatar

LoriP. Random smells can occur without there being a serious medical problem. As far as I know, I’ve never heard of burnt toast smells occurring before strokes. This seems like an internet/urban legend to me.

However, simple partial seizures (as opposed to generalized tonic-clonic seizures where people collapse unconscious and contract their muscles on the floor) can be associated with an aura of unusual odors, as has been mentioned above. Some of these simple partial seizures can transition into more complex partial seizures, and you may not even know it if they occur when no one else is around to witness the event due to amnesia. The fact that you remember these smells suggests that IF it is anything, it could be a simple partial seizure. That said, I would quiz anyone around you after you notice these smells to see if you are behaving funny, like staring off into the distance (i.e. daydreaming). If so, that suggests a complex partial seizure.

There are other things that could cause this, ranging from benign to more serious causes. I concur with the other flutherers who suggest you talk to your doctor about this.

kevbo's avatar

Outside my HS there was a burnt toast smell in one area. I think it had to do with boiler room emissions or something to that effect.

nikipedia's avatar

I can find two references to burnt toast and neurology, one in for-real science:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10795084

and one in a cutesy faux-science video:

http://www.histori.ca/minutes/minute.do?id=10211

Both of which seem to corroborate the answers about seizures and auras. So if you are the second person in all of history to be documented with this particular aura, that is a very interesting case study indeed. Otherwise, this sounds like it may be one for snopes.com.

shilolo's avatar

@Niki. Check out this link regarding temporal lobe epilepsy and simple partial seizures. Its a bit medical, and doesn’t specifically mention burnt toast, but does mention that auras occur in 80% of temporal lobe seizures.

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