Updated: Oct 3, 2019

It's stuff like this that we don't always want to talk about but maybe we should. We all know that when we eat something like asparagus that our urine smells pretty odd. Researchers believe that during digestion the vegetable's sulfurous amino acids break down into smelly chemical components in all people. And because those components are "volatile," meaning airborne, the odor wafts upward as the urine leaves the body and can be detected as soon as 15 minutes after you eat this spring delicacy. But only about one-quarter of the population appears to have the special gene that allows them to smell those compounds. So the issue isn't whether or not your pee is smelly, it's whether you're able to smell it. If you smell a funny fragrance in your urine after you eat asparagus, you're not only normal, you have a good nose.

However, did you know that other body smells could indicate a problem?

Of course we all at times sweat (I know even me) and sometimes we all have a bit of bad breath from eating onions or other pungent foods (not me of course), however these things can easily be fixed. There are other scents though that could indicate a serious health issue.

So which smells should you be on the lookout for, and what do they mean?

· Stinky feet. “Athlete’s foot is a very common problem that causes foot irritation, which can lead to a smell that is quite noticeable,” says Dr. Hampton of Advocate Health Care. In addition, any type of infected wound generally emits a scent. “I often smell the skin of patients to get a sense of whether their wound is infected.”

· Fruity breath. It may be hard to believe, but up until the 11th Century, the urine of people with diabetes was thought to be sweet tasting. The diagnosis of diabetes was made by “water tasters” who would drink the urine of those suspected of being diabetic. Thankfully, we now have lab tests to help diagnose patients, but the fact remains that fruity breath is still a key indicator of an issue, says Dr. Hampton. If you notice this distinctive smell along with other warning signs, it’s time to consult a physician.

· Ammonia. Ever notice the smell of ammonia when you head to the restroom? It may be a sign that you have a bladder infection. “When we are testing in the clinic, the smell of our patients’ urine usually validates their symptoms, and often, we know there is an issue before we even get the results back,” says Dr. Hampton.

· Raw Fish. “Another potential indicator I’ve noticed is the smell of raw fish,” says Dr. Hampton. “Some of my patients with liver failure emit this odor.

· Vinegar. In addition, my psychology colleagues have suggested that some schizophrenia patients’ sweat smells of vinegar.

Bottom line, if you notice a peculiar smell, and it lasts for a prolonged period of time, you should consult a physician.

It’s amazing with all of the technology that’s out there, that sometimes it’s the simplest things, like a smell, that could possibly provide a clue to someone’s health. There might not be any problem if you have any of these scents, but isn’t it better to get it checked out before a potential problem gets any worse?

Source: excerpt from Advocate Aurora Health eNews – Dr. Tony Hampton and WebMD

Laura Flynn, Real Estate Broker

Coldwell Banker

Downers Grove, IL

5114 Main Street

Real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of the company.

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