Every runner has to deal with a few unpleasant odours, but these smells can signal more than a skipped shower. – By Alisa Hrustic for Men’s Health
Whether you’ve just completed a gruelling run or chowed down on an onion-packed burger, chances are, at one time or another, you’ve been the person who stunk up the room. In most cases, a simple shower, swipe of deodorant, or line of minty-fresh toothpaste can remedy the situation. But in other cases, it’s not so simple.
That’s because your body odour can actually speak volumes about your health. In fact, some diseases can actually produce a unique, distinguished odor, according to a recent Swedish study.
So which funky fumes should you take note of? Here are 5 common body odours that might signal a serious problem – and what you should do if the stench arises.
BODY ODOUR #1: Fruity Breath Is a Symptom of Diabetes
Credit a complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when your body runs low on insulin and your blood sugar spikes, says Robert Gabbay, chief medical officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. People with type 1 diabetes generally experience it more than those with type 2 diabetes do.
Here’s what’s happening: Your body can’t create the energy it needs to function properly, so it begins to break down fatty acids for fuel. This creates a build up of acidic chemicals called ketones in your blood. One of the main acids – acetone (the same component found in nail polish remover) – can leave a fruity smell on your breath, Dr. Gabbay says. You might not notice it until someone else mentions it, but doctors can smell it on you as soon as you walk into a room.
The effects of DKA can be serious. It can make you vomit and urinate frequently, causing your body to lose fluids at a dangerous rate, he says.
DKA generally occurs with other symptoms of diabetes, like fatigue, blurred vision, and unexplained weight loss, but in many cases, people don’t put them all together, which delays diagnosis and treatment. So if you notice the fruity odour on your breath along with any of those symptoms – especially if they are accompanied by fatigue, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, or abdominal pain, head to the doctor as soon as possible.
After your doctor tests your blood for ketones, he or she will work on replacing lost fluids and getting your sugar levels back to normal with insulin treatment.