Smells that could signal something wrong with your health

Smells that could signal something wrong with your health

While bad breath (medically known as halitosis) can be down to poor oral hygiene, sometimes it could be indicative of another condition.

“Sometimes breath is described as having an acetone type smell (think nail polish or those horrible sweets pear drops),” said Dr Hussain.

“This could be a sign of a serious underlying health condition – namely diabetes.”

Dr Hussain added: “If your breath has an ammonia-type smell consider getting checked out for kidney problems, as ammonia is normally excreted in the urine.

“Smells of rotten eggs and garlic means your liver is not doing well.”

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But, sometimes, smelly breath is due to the build-up of bacteria caused by retained food particles.

This type of smelly breath is easily remedied by brushing your teeth daily with an electronic toothbrush, and flossing.

As for sweaty underarms, Dr Hussain said “sweat doesn’t smell”, it’s the “build-up of bacteria” that leads to body odour.

Some people are more prone to sweating than others, which puts them at increased risk of developing fungal infections.

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“Sometimes when stressed or during certain phases in our lives, such as puberty or menopause, there may be a more noticeable change in body odour,” said Dr Hussain.

Body odour can also be influenced by what you eat, so if you enjoyed an onion and garlic pizza the evening before, your underarms might smell that way too.

“As with halitosis, if your sweat smells like acetone then consider diabetes, and kidney or liver disease may cause changes in the smell of sweat,” added Dr Hussain.

“Sometimes it’s the doctor’s fault; the medicine they gave you may be being excreted in bodily fluids – sweat included.”

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People who have a sinus infection or nasal poylps may also notice a bad smell.

“Infections in the tonsils and in particular tonsillar stones can cause a bad smell in the nose,” said Dr Hussain.

“One very interesting phenomenon is phantosmia. This is the perception of a bad smell in the nose when there actually isn’t anything there at all.

“This has been described as an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.”

Dr Hussain stated: “More often than not all these symptoms are minor and down to easily explainable causes.

“However, the bottom line is, any persistent symptoms should warrant further medical attention.”

Dr Suhail Hussain is a personal physician and private home-visiting GP covering the Herts and greater London area.

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