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What Your Body Odor Reveals About Your Health

When a body gives off a scent others may find unpleasant, it is known as body odor. Sweat is said to be the main cause of odor. However, that's not quite correct as it is virtually odorless to humans. It is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and their breaking down of sweat into acids that eventually causes the unpleasant smell. Most importantly, body odor should be considered a reason to worry because it says a lot about possible health problems like diabetes, liver problems, or the wrong diet.

In this article, we at Bright Side collected some facts about body odor and its potential causes.

If your body has a fecal smell... may be caused by bowel obstruction. This is quite a dangerous medical condition, occurring when there is a blockage in the large or small intestine. Such a blockage in the intestinal tract usually causes breath that smells like poop, and anything you eat will only aggravate the bad breath. Moreover, problems with digestion can cause a bad smell of sweat. Sweat from the armpits is affected the most, although different parts of the body could also produce sweat with a fecal smell.

If you smell bitter...

...then you may need to visit a doctor because this speaks to problems with your liver. A sluggish liver produces a variety of chemicals that have peculiar odors, and this will definitely affect the bad smell from your body. A damaged liver is also characterized by symptoms like digestive problems and nausea.

If your body smells fishy... may have a disorder called Fish Odor Syndrome or Trimethylaminuria. It manifests in an offensive body odor and the smell of rotting fish in the urine, sweat, and breath of people with this disorder because of excessive excretion of trimethylaminuria (TMA). Unfortunately, it is a genetic disease, and symptoms make themselves felt from birth. Other causes of a fishy smell can occur as a result of an excess of proteins in the diet or from the presence of specific bacteria. That's why this syndrome's treatment, apart from antibiotics and specific acid lotions, includes certain dietary requirements.

If you smell sweet...

...this could be a sign of diabetes. Your body may have a sweet or fruity smell because of high levels of ketones in your bloodstream. If your urine has this specific smell, it may also be a symptom of Maple syrup urine disease. It is a metabolic disorder which causes an inability for the body to break down the amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine.

If you have a rotten egg smell... may eat too much meat. Meat is a product that is heavy on the digestive system, which is why people who eat a lot of meat on a daily basis may have a repulsive sulfuric odor like rotting eggs. This specific odor is caused by the high content of sulfur-containing amino acids in meat — particularly red meat. There is no harm in these amino acids, but they need to be digested well, which is not that common.

If you smell like alcohol... most probably had a bit too much lately. When we consume alcohol, the body recognizes it as a toxin and tries to break it down into acetic acid. It can metabolize about 90% of alcohol this way, and the rest gets excreted differently. Some of it comes out with urine, but it is also excreted by sweat and through the respiratory system. This is what creates that specific body odor after a big party.

If you smell sweaty and sweat too much... need to be tested for hyperhidrosis, which is, basically, excessive sweating. Although neurologic, endocrine, infectious, and other systemic diseases can sometimes cause hyperhidrosis as well, most cases occur in people who are otherwise healthy. Heat and emotions may be triggers for hyperhidrosis, but many people who suffer from this disorder sweat mostly in their waking hours — even in normal temperatures and without any stress. The main sweat zones of the human body are the armpits, groin area, and feet.

Do you know any other conditions that may cause body odor? We would like to hear your answers.

Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for Bright Side
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