September 15th, 2018| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Phan•tom adjective = fictitious, nonexistent, illusive (from Latin phantasma, from Greek phantazein = to make visible)

Phantom odor = the smell of something that isn’t actually there, usually unpleasant (“foul,” “rotten,” “chemical”)

That, apparently, is a condition afflicting about one in fifteen, report researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “Factors Associated With Phantom Odor Perception Among US Adults.”

These folks looked at national health survey records of over 7,400 people (over 40 years old) between 2011 and 2014.

Apparently twice as many women (68 percent) as men (32 percent) reported phantom odors, especially those women below 60 years. Women, they speculate, are 1) better at naming odors; 2) more often to be negatively affected by odors; 3) are endowed with a heightened sense of smell; and 4) more likely to report such phantom-odor problems.

Surprisingly enough, socio-economic status appears to play a role. Perhaps those on the lower end of the ladder are more exposed to environmental pollutants, or are at greater risk for those medical conditions predisposing them to smell things that aren’t there. Also among those who smell foul stuff, those who had more education seemed increasingly susceptible: below 9th grade: 8.5%; 9th grade to high school: 19%; high school: 25%; and over high school: 48%. (So much for education: delusions increase with education!)

All kinds of problems can result in phantom odors—head injury, poor health overall, dry mouth, chronic nasal inflammation, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, migraines, and so on. Even the humble common cold has been implicated.

Said Kathleen Bainbridge, first author on the paper, and professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the NIH.

The condition could be related to overactive odor sensing cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals. A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon. From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition.”

Phantom odors decrease one’s quality of life, noted Judith Cooper, director of the NIDCD:

Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks and spoiled food. This can be particularly problematic for those who work in places that rely on an accurate sense of smell, including those in the food and service industries.”

The Bible has a whole lot to contribute about odors, especially those being smelled favorable by God.

The Books of Leviticus and Numbers have a numerous references to “fragrant aroma,” all of them arising from sacrifices.

… an offering by fire of a fragrant aroma to the LORD.
Leviticus 2:2

No wonder that the atoning work of the final sacrifice for sin, the Lord Jesus Christ, is described likewise:

Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us,
an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:2

In turn, as children of God and believers in Christ, our own lives are to be fragrant aromas before our Creator.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God ….

2 Corinthians 2:14–15

Let’s go smell good for God!

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