Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Dealing with Olfactory and Gustatory Hallucinations

Okay, so I’ve come to learn, after some careful questions and investigating that my daughter experiences olfactory and gustatory hallucinations. She’s not an extremely picky eater like we thought, nor does she had an eating disorder as we believed for many years but couldn’t find a cause for. Today she said her rice crispies tasted like rotten eggs as did the pepperoni on her pizza (which she normally loves). She said it isn’t all the time, so sometimes it’s okay to eat things and sometimes it’s not. She also says sometimes things just taste “rotten” or “poisoned”.

Does anyone have any suggestions for this? We’re going to explore it more and do some “fun experiments” where we have her taste different foods the next time it happens to see if it’s certain foods or just during a certain phase or what. Does anyone else have experience in this, for either an adult or a young child? How do you cope with it? What can be done to circumvent it so she actually eats properly? On the meds she’s on, eating is really important.

On the other side is me - this has thrown me a whole other curve ball. I think part of me knew but couldn’t accept it. But now that I can’t ignore it and know, my heart is just broken all over again. It seems like every day we’re uncovering more symptoms. Will it ever end?! And how do I help her with this? How do you cope with your brain betraying you with tastes? Food, which is such a comfort sometimes, is the enemy? I mean seriously? Is this some kind of awful cosmic joke?


My son has had olfactory issues regarding food. I never knew if it was his sense of smell being super sensitive or an hallucination.


For anyone coming along who may not be familiar, here what I understand currently. These types of hallucinations can be hard to tell apart. But ultimately if something smells or tastes other than it should significantly, that seems to be the symptom. So if food tastes rotten, then it’s a gustatory hallucination (as long as it’s not actually rotten). If it smells rotten, then it’s an olfactory hallucination. It’s important not to take the examples given too literally because the symptoms could present differently for many people.

Olfactory hallucinations involve the sense of smell. They often involve an unpleasant smell, and sometimes the schizophrenic person believes (much to his/her embarrassment) that the odor is coming from his/her own body.
Tactile hallucinations involve the sense of touch, and may, for example, involve the feeling that snakes or bugs are crawling on or inside the body. Also, the person may believe an invisible hand or fingers are touching him/her.
Gustatory hallucinations involve the sense of taste. This may be experienced as a strange taste in something they are eating or drinking.

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