Symptoms of Body Odor
Medical conditions: What are these symptoms of body odor which I am supposed to recognize?
Known medically as bromhidrosis as well as other names, there are potentially many accompanying symptoms of body odor. Many aspects influence an individual’s body odor including gender, genetics, diet, lifestyle, medication and health.
Body odor, is often a problem for those afflicted and people around them. It isn’t pleasant to be the subject of odd stares and people moving away from you; nor is it pleasant to be near someone whose emitting smell is unpleasant, nauseating or otherwise repulsive.
Often people associate body odor as a condition which is associated with poor personal hygiene, that it is a social responsibility to look after yourself. Often, body odor may be easy to tackle, simply through effective hygiene but sometimes this is not the case and further intervention is needed.
Often, body odor is not caused by infrequent washing, a lack of self-care, lack of oral hygiene, sweating profusely, not washing clothes frequently, smoking, eating smelly foods nor excessive flatus caused by a dietary regime. There are medical conditions which afflict individuals with characteristic body odor and can be the bane of their lives, leading to stigmatization and even social isolation.
There are often accompanying symptoms which initially seem unrelated but which can assist a medical practitioner to reach a diagnosis and possible mode of treatment as well as potential lifestyle changes. These medical conditions include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, liver and kidney dysfunctions, trimethylaminuria, other metabolic dysfunctional syndromes such as enzyme deficiencies, secondary halitosis or bad breath secondary to another disease, hormonal imbalance and skin conditions.
Diabetes and Body Odor
When diabetes isn’t properly managed it can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), most often in type 1 diabetes mellitus, less frequently in the type 2 variant. It is as a result of a shortfall in insulin which causes the body to burn its fatty acid stores, found in fatty tissue, and starting a biochemical reaction which produces ketone bodies which show up as a certain type of bad odor in the breath. The breath then smells of ketones, which is a very strong, pungent and almost salty smell. It is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. DKA symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Severe abdominal pain;
- Pronounced thirst;
- Excessive production of urine;
- High blood glucose levels on measurement with a glucometer (available at local pharmacies);
- Dry Mouth;
- Rapid heart rate
- Other clinical symptoms
It is advised to seek immediate medical attention, especially if you are known to be diabetic. There are many other associated symptoms of body odor, discussed below.
Trimethylaminuria and How It Is Responsible For Body Odor
Trimethylaminuria, or TMAU, which is also known as fish malodor syndrome, is caused by a defect in the production of an enzyme known as FMO3, or Flavin containing monooxygenase 3. This enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of trimethylamine (TMA), found in initial stages of food breakdown, into trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). TMAO usually but not always has a strong fishy smell, and its build-up is released in the person’s urine, breath and sweat.
There is no known cure for this condition, however symptoms can be managed by:
- Avoiding certain foods such as legumes, eggs, fish, some meats;
- Taking antibiotics in low doses, such as neomycin;
- A study in Life Sciences, 2004 by Yamazaki and his team found that supplements of activated charcoal and copper chlorophyllin helps substantially, for 85% of patients.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive and causes a person to sweat excessively, as one of many symptoms of this metabolic regulator of the body. Sweating excessively, especially via the apocrine glands found in armpits, the groin, ear and other specialized areas leads to an excess of fatty acid deposits on the surface of the skin. These fatty acids are a food source for epidermal or skin bacteria, which in turn release fetid smelling waste products.
Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include:
- Nervousness and irritability;
- Increased perspiration – one of the main symptoms of body odor;
- Rapid heartbeat and trembling hands;
- Thinning of hair;
- Muscular weakness;
- Weight loss caused by a high metabolic rate.
Clearly, it is a major health problem and body odor is just one of the many experienced symptoms, and it also requires medical intervention.
Bad breath caused by other health conditions can be treated both symptomatically and by dealing with the cause. Medical causes of bad breath include:
- Metabolic disorder;
- Some carcinomas;
- Renal problems including infection and renal failure – this affects the body’s ability to remove toxins via urine, and promoting bacterial breakdown once they appear on the skin surface as sweat;
- Respiratory Tract infections, especially the lower respiratory tract;
- Fetor hepaticus: bad breath caused by chronic liver failure, which can cause toxins to remain in the bloodstream and eventually available for bacterial breakdown and subsequent body odor.
Clearly there are many different causes of bad breath, with many medical conditions described here needing professional intervention to treat and manage health. There are many symptoms of body odor and associated symptoms which highlight more generalized health problems.