Olfactory Reference Syndrome

Olfactory Reference Syndrome is a behavioral disorder where people are always anxious about bad smells coming from their bodies. However, it is a completely unrealistic and imaginary situation because others do not receive such foul orders.

What is Olfactory Reference Syndrome?

ORS (Olfactory Reference Syndrome) is also known as olfactory reference disorder. It is an obsessive−compulsive disorder where people have an irrational fear of emitting unpleasant and foul orders. It is an extreme type of anxiety of a non−existence order that keeps the person anxious every time. They are concerned every time and keep avoiding social engagement. They also keep themselves confined in the household and even avoid talking with others. They may worry that they smell foul from any body part − feet, skin, genitals, underarms, etc. This thought may even hamper their day−to−day activities.

Symptoms of Olfactory Reference Syndrome

The primary symptom of OCD is an extreme fear of foul smells. The other common syndromes of OCD are as follows.


  • People with OCD are afraid of the foul odor that is unnatural or chemical.

  • They are afraid that people may comment and disgust them because of that odor − but it is a completely imagined and non−realistic thought.


  • Because of such absurd ideas, ORS patients use excessive soaps, mouthwash, perfumes, etc.

  • They seek confirmation from others if there is any odor coming from their body or not.

  • They keep checking for odor all the time.

  • They try to avoid all social gatherings because of that imagined embracement.

Other Symptoms of ORS − Other symptoms of ORS can include −

  • Changing clothes frequently.

  • Showering.

  • Brushing teeth.

  • Laundering.

  • Comparing other body orders with themselves.

  • Taking unusual food.

Consequences of Olfactory Reference Syndrome

The patients of ORS can find some excessive consequences of having this disorder.

  • They always feel negative about themselves and are always conscious if anyone is taking any special notice of them.

  • Extreme embracement and shame result in low self−esteem.

  • They always try to avoid social gatherings. They have anxiety about mixing with others.

  • Some are prone to using alcohol or drugs.

  • Some of them can also go to the extreme of having suicidal tendencies.

Causes of Olfactory Reference Syndrome

There is still no reason invented till now why ORS occurs. It may be the result of some past negative experiences that three people may have experienced. It is said that two types of negative experiences can trigger such disorders. On the one hand, it can be any part of trauma related to foul smell; on the other, the person may have gone through some negative experiences related to bad odor. At present, the situation has developed, but the trauma remains. Examples − Some examples of syndromes are prominent among ORS patients.

  • Excessive anxiety about the bad smell.

  • Excessive thought of foul genital odor.

  • Conclusion of foul smell from any part of the body.

  • Irrational thought of misinterpreting others' behavior.

  • They are always concerned with an imagined foul smell of something unnatural or chemical order.

When is The Perfect Time to Consult a Doctor?

The common problem with ORS patients is that they cannot understand when it is high time to go to an expert. They feel that they are always getting some bad odor from their body while others do not get any such smell. It harms their daily activities, but the patients remain completely unaware. They think their perception is completely n logical, and some foul smell is coming out of their bodies. They are completely definite about that and do not like to listen to others' opinions.

Nevertheless, it is a generous suggestion that if you think you always smell bad, try to be open−minded. Listen to the suggestions of others. If it appears that only you are getting this smell and others do not, then it will be wise to consult with a doctor. If ORS is diagnosed, try to complete the treatment and co−operate with it. The treatments are effective and can give you back normalcy in your life.

What is ORS & OCD?

ORS (Olfactory Reference Syndrome) OCD is an obsessive−compulsive disorder. The person having extreme symptoms of ORS has made the criteria of OCD. Psychiatrists often consider ORS as a type of OCD. Till now, ORS has not fallen under any standard psychiatrist diagnostic category. We can say that the extreme showcase of ORS can be termed OCD.

Treatment of Olfactory Reference Syndrome

The treatment of ORS is not being fully researched till now. According to some journals and clinical experiences, the treatment of ORS is similar to BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) and OCD (obsessive−compulsive disorder). The two types of treatments that are helpful for ORS are as follows.

  • Medication − Medicines such as Serotonin Reuptake inhibitors are used to drive away depression, anxiety, misinterpretation, suicidal thoughts, etc. Any neuroleptics medicine is also helpful in ORS.

  • Therapy − Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is prescribed to control the patient's behavior, and it helps the person to get better control over their repetitive behavior.

How Common is Olfactory Reference Syndrome?

ORS is still now an undiagnosed disease about which not much more is known. It seems that ORS is not a very common disease, but in general belief, ORS seems much more common, though not at the extreme level. However, there is space to know more about ORS.

Is It Serious − ORS is a behavioral disorder? It is mostly psychiatric, where the person always seems cynical about his body order. So apparently, it does not seem to be a serious disorder. Nevertheless, in extreme cases, the person can be hospitalized and have suicidal thoughts, and this is something that seems to be deadly.


There is no such theory about who can be affected by this disorder, and people of all ages and genders can be affected by it. As the particular cause of ORS is still unknown, it is impossible to say who can have extreme chances of ORS. However, in general, it can be said that ORS normally starts during adolescence. In a nutshell, it can be a setback. ORS is curable if diagnosed at a perfect time. Therapy and medications are not specific until now, but those available are proven effective to date.