Objective: Olfactory reference syndrome (ORS) - preoccupation with a false belief that one emits a foul or offensive body odor - has been described around the world for more than a century. However, only a few small studies have systematically assessed ORS's clinical features.
Method: Twenty patients with ORS were systematically assessed using semistructured measures.
Results: Subjects' mean age was 33.4±14.1; 60% were female. Preoccupation most often focused on the mouth (75%), armpits (60%) and genitals (35%). Bad breath (75%) and sweat (65%) were the most common odor descriptions. Currently, 85% of subjects had delusional ORS beliefs, 77% had referential thinking and 85% reported actually smelling the odor. Ninety-five percent of subjects reported performing one or more ORS-related repetitive behaviors (e.g., excessive showering). Forty percent had been housebound for at least 1 week because of ORS symptoms, 68% had a history of suicidal ideation, 32% had attempted suicide and 53% had been psychiatrically hospitalized. Forty-four percent of subjects had sought nonpsychiatric medical, surgical or dental treatment for the perceived odor, and one third had received such treatment, which was ineffective in all cases.
Conclusion: ORS appears to be characterized by high morbidity and seeking of nonpsychiatric treatment.
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