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Body Odor – Disease, Chronic, Onion & Sour Body Odor

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You are probably wondering what body odor disease is responsible for that offending small that just won’t go away. If that is the case, then read on to discover some of the medical conditions that are commonly associated with body odor. We have also discussed several types of body odor briefly including metallic body odor, vinegar body odor, sour body odor, ketosis body odor, and onion body odor. We sincerely hope that this article will help you make sense of the problem and possibly decide your best course of action to get rid of body odor.

Do I have a Body Odor Disease

Body odor is commonly attributed to poor hygiene, eating garlic and numerous spicy foods, taking some medication, stress and anxiety, or hormonal fluctuations associated with puberty and menopause. Some people are also genetically predisposed to body odor.

Body Odor - Do I have a body odor
Do I have a body odor

Body odor is often however a sign of an underlying medical condition and as Kristie Leong, MD, a family physician in Virginia says, if one is dealing with a case of a body odor disease, “…no amount of personal hygiene care will cure the body odor problem”.

Here are some of the common body odor diseases, so to speak:

Diabetes: As the UK National Health Service says, diabetes increases an individual’s susceptibility to body odor. Diabetes is know to cause a change in the consistency of sweat such that someone’s smell changes. Often, the body of a diabetic person takes on a fruity smell, an indication of the high volume of glucose in their blood. Patients who are already on insulin to manage their diabetes have a distinctive body odor that smells like acetone.

In uncontrolled cases of diabetes, the patient may develop a condition known as ketoacidosis which is noticeable for a distinctive body odor coupled with a sweet taste on the skin and a fruity taste in the mouth and breath. Ketoacidosis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Trimethylaminuria is yet another disease that causes body odor. This is a rare genetic disorder that is also referred to as fish malodor syndrome because of the characteristic smell of rotting fish associated with it.

Trimethylaminuria is attributed to a lack of an enzyme called flavin which then makes the body unable to metabolize sulfur, phosphorus and nitrogen.

The body odor is usually associated with Trimethylaminuria is usually attributed to Trimethylamine which is produced during break down of foods rich in choline such as liver and egg yolks, saltwater fish and certain legumes.

Although Trimethylamine has the characteristic smell of rotting fish, the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia says that it can smell like garbage at lower concentrations.  Trimethylamine is usually excreted through sweat, saliva, urine and breath.

Liver and kidney diseases can also cause body odor. These are usually attributed to the failure of kidney or liver to eliminate toxins from the body. These are often associated with a bleach-like odor.

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid glands) is also potential causes of body odor because of the excessive sweating that normally accompany this medical condition.

Chronic Body Odor

Body Odour
Body Odour

Chronic body odor is often an indication of some serious medical conditions such as Trimethylaminuria which is recognizable for an offensive smell similar to rotten fish (or garbage in situations of lower levels of trimethylamice, the compound responsible for the offending smell.

Chronic body odor also commonly affects patients of diabetes. The use of insulin to control diabetes is usually associated with an acetone-like smell. Liver and kidneys diseases can as well cause chronic body odor and so is hyperthyroidism [see the above section for more detail].

Chronic body odor is best attended to by a doctor. Several tests may be done to establish the underlying cause.

Onion Body Odor

As we have already mentioned elsewhere, onion is one of the foods that are known to cause body odor. Onions have sulfurous substances, notable among them being allicin, that are excreted through the skin.

This makes the smell of onion to linger on for several hours down the line after taking onions. Once digestion of food has taken place, these compounds are then absorbed into the blood and lungs leading to not only offensive body odor but also bad breath.

People whose diet is rich in onions are very likely to get onion body odor, but in most cases, eliminating the problem is as easy as halting onion intake for a while. If the onion body odor however doesn’t seem to go away even after you have eliminated onions from your diet, then you could be having a case of metallic abnormality at hand. Consider seeing a doctor.

Metallic Body Odor

There are several suspects for metallic body odor. Blood is the first one since it rich in iron and can cause a metallic smell when present anywhere on the body. This can happen if you have a wound or have some dried blood on the skin. Women on their menstrual cycle might also get a metallic body odor.

Personal care products such as soaps, perfumes, lotions, shampoos, and deodorants may also cause a metallic body odor in some individuals particularly those that contain metallic mineral compounds.

Stinking Body Odor
Stinking Body Odor

A metallic body odor can also result from a reaction between metallic tools and the skin especially in individuals whose occupation involves using metallic tools every now and then. The skin can as well react with metallic zips and fasteners in your clothes, especially after sweating, resulting in a metallic body odor.

Sour Body Odor

If you have a sour body odor, then sweating and the related bacterial activities are the most likely culprit. We all have bacteria growing naturally on our skin and when such bacteria come into contact with sweat they break down the compounds in it and give off offensive smelling acids; propionic acid and isovaleric acid.

Isovaleric acid is the one associated with a cheesy or sour smell. As a matter of fact, the sweat-bacteria combo ranks the first among the causes of body odor. Adopting proper hygiene measures can help with the problem. An antibacterial soap also often helps and so does deodorants and antiperspirant.

Vinegar Body Odor

Just the other day someone asked, “I have a vinegar body odor, what could be the cause of the problem?” Vinegar like body odor is also the result of bacterial break down of sweat and is associated with propionic acid.

The Propionibacteria found in the sebaceous glands ducts in adolescents and adults is usually behind the formation of propionic acid. The bacteria break down amino acids in sweat into propionic acid which has a structure similar to than of acetic acid in vinegar, hence the similarity in smell.

Ketosis Body Odor

The term ketosis refers to a situation whereby the level of ketones in the blood is increased typically as a result of lower level of glycogen in the liver. Ketosis is the principle behind various weight loss diets in a category known as ketogenic diets e.g. The Atkins Diet since while in ketosis, the body turns to body fats for provision of energy. On the downside however, ketosis and such low-carb, high-fat diets can lead to body odor and bad breath.

Further Suggested on Smelly and Body Odor

Posted Comments [3]

  1. i have a friend really a friend and she took it as an insult, cause her body smell like iron. when i kiss her it even worst, what can i do to help her with out insulting her

  2. My husband has recently started to smell a sour smell and I am so concerned about him…he is so stubborn when it comes to the doctors and he will just wait until he has to go to the hospital and it gets very bad for him.., I am so worried about him being sick inside and I just don’t know what to do with him he’s My best friend and the absolute love of my life..he is so funny and extremely talented painter…. I could honestly go on and on forever about how special he is. I love him so much and if something is wrong with him then everything is going to be wrong with me and I will just die….

  3. None of those are what my body smells like but it’s hard to describe. It’s like a sweet but soured smell yuk makes me want to puke


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