What causes extreme body odor

6 body odors that indicate illness

Yes, we could also list a whole list of (absolutely good) reasons why you can smell unpleasant. For example, if you have been sweaty for 3 hours again or have eaten the garlic and onion pan for lunch. In such cases, a swig of mouthwash (gargle, not drink), a good deodorant or a shower is often enough to get rid of the stench.

In other cases it is unfortunately not that easy. Because there are diseases that produce a very specific odor in the body, claims a Swedish study ("The Scent of Disease"). You should therefore pay particular attention to some of the scents that our body exudes. They are an early warning system and show you how your health is.

In this article:

6 body odors that can indicate an illness

1. Sweetish halitosis can indicate diabetes

If your breath smells like overripe fruit and you haven't had any fermented fruit schnapps before, you could have type 1 diabetes. Doctors attribute this odor to acetone. This is a metabolic product that arises, for example, when there is a lack of insulin.

The body needs glucose to meet its daily energy needs. Insulin helps the body when it burns. If the body does not have enough insulin due to a disorder, the cells break down fat instead. The resulting acetone can acidify the blood. Doctors then speak of ketoacidosis. The urine also smells sweet. Other signs are an increased urge to urinate and dizziness.

What you should do: Go to the doctor immediately. If left untreated, ketoacidosis is life-threatening.

2. Cheese feet are a symptom of athlete's foot

Sweaty feet are an uncomfortable number in themselves - wherever you go, it smells like a smell. But now it gets even worse: Those who have cheese feet are also prone to athlete's foot. Because the skin fungus particularly likes warm and humid places to multiply. Men are particularly often affected because they have more sweat glands on their feet than women.

The first signs are softened skin and itching. Together with bacteria, the fungi eat away at the layers of the skin, releasing the typically unpleasant smell. So if your sneakers stink badly, don't just change your shoes: Take a look in the spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet - after all, it is estimated that every third person is affected by athlete's foot.

What you should do: Athlete's foot doesn't go away on its own. Fortunately, there are plenty of over-the-counter remedies for athlete's foot that work well. You should definitely not ignore the signs. Untreated athlete's foot can lead to wound infections or spread to the nails. And nail fungus is pretty uncomfortable!

3. Putrid smelling stool from lactose intolerance

Whose chair smells like flowers? But if your apartment is so smelly that you feel sick yourself, you could be lactose intolerant. If the body doesn't make enough of the enzyme lactase, it can't digest lactose - a sugar found in dairy products. Instead of releasing the milk sugar into the blood, the small intestine then sends the lactose directly to the large intestine. There it is fermented with strong gas formation and leads, among other things, to foul-smelling flatulence, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea - and even depression.

What you should do: Don't lose your nerve. Around 65 to 90 percent of the world's population cannot digest lactose. Often it is enough to eat low-lactose without causing major discomfort, say experts. Ask your doctor how much is still acceptable for you personally. Otherwise, go through the list of ingredients for food or pay attention to the now rich alternatives with the addition of "lactose-free".

4. Fishy sweat odor in metabolic diseases

Sweat consists of 99 percent water and is therefore actually odorless. However, if you suddenly start smelling fish during a hard workout, you could have TMAU syndrome. The metabolic disease trimethylaminuria is also called fish odor syndrome. It occurs when the body produces too little of the enzyme flavin. Flavin is responsible for breaking down the odorless trimethylamine gas in the liver. The cause of the disorder can be a genetic defect or a kidney and liver disease. The disease occurs more often in women - so sniff your loved one very carefully.

What you should do: So far there is no cure. The unpleasant smell that those affected excrete through breath and urine can be reduced by changing your diet. In addition, you should avoid food containing the nutrient choline, advises the British health website NHS Choices. No-gos: eggs, legumes, meat and fish as well as rose and cauliflower and broccoli. Special antibiotic therapy can also help.

5. Bad breath is a symptom of sleep apnea syndrome

There are many causes of bad breath: sinus, throat or tonsillitis, also problems with the gastric mucosa, and of course bad gums and tooth decay. In the case of sleep apnea syndrome, however, bad breath is indirectly triggered by pauses in breathing during nighttime sleep. Affected people snore particularly loudly and irregularly, which leads to increased mouth breathing. This causes the mucous membranes to dry out. The bacteria that can then settle are the reason for the bad breath.

Another indication that you have sleep apnea syndrome is severe daytime sleepiness. Because stopping your breath causes you to wake up briefly to breathe without you noticing. The body cannot rest enough at night, so you feel irritable and tired during the day, which can lead to microsleep.

What you should do: Be sure to see a doctor. Undiagnosed sleep apnea syndrome can lead to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

6. Strict smelling urine in urinary tract infections

Similar to sweat, urine consists almost entirely of water (95%) and does not usually emit a strong odor (except asparagus season). If urine smells, the reason is often an infection with E. coli bacteria. They settle in the urinary tract and multiply rapidly in the bladder. Because women are more likely to have cystitis, men tend to ignore their own signs. According to the motto: What comes by itself, also goes by itself. But experts advise not to take this lightly. If the urine stinks in men, something is often clogging the urinary tract - E. coli bacteria are then the lesser problem. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate could be the reason.

What you should do: Go to the doctor. There a urine test brings the clear diagnosis. In rare cases, foul smelling urine can also be a sign of a tumor. You can read here what the color of the urine can tell you about your health.

10 tricks against body odor

Who does not know it, the moment when you notice that you smell and know that the others do the same. So what can you do about body odor?

We can't make you sterile either, but with these 10 tricks against body odor you have good prerequisites to keep penetrating armpit sweat and all other natural odors at bay.

  1. take a shower helps, of course, against body odor. Stand briefly in the wet room once a day. Sweat is virtually odorless, but when it comes into contact with the bacteria that live on our body, the little beasts multiply rapidly. And then it starts to stink.
  2. Finish the shower with cold water. This not only gets your circulation going, which is good for your immune system. The cold water also contracts the pores of the sweat glands. How to find the right shower temperature.
  3. No time to shower? Afraid of the water bill? Too dry skin? No problem, take a damp one Washcloth and clean those areas where you sweat particularly quickly, such as under your armpits or on your feet.
  4. Go to the sauna: The change in temperature also trains the pores of the sweat glands.
  5. There are people for whom water and unscented curd soap are sufficient to counter body odor. Everyone else can antiseptic soap try out. It reduces the number of bacteria on the skin.
  6. Dry yourself off thoroughly. Especially where you sweat heavily. Without moisture, it is more difficult for the bacteria to multiply and flood everything.
  7. Sluggish Breathable shoes and clothing made of cotton. This removes the moisture to the outside. The sweat dries up before the bacteria can break it down.
  8. Trim or shave yours Armpit hair. This reduces the total area where bacteria can spread.
  9. Take care of your Weight: If you carry too many pounds with you, you will sweat faster
  10. Take care of yours nutrition: Coffee, alcohol and nicotine stimulate sweat production through their stimulating effect.

Why does body odor change?

  1. Diet changes change body odor: We evaporate what we eat. Today to the delicious Indian restaurant, tomorrow you (and others) will smell yesterday's variety of spices. This also applies when we start a special diet: If you suddenly switch from high carb to low carb, your body odor will probably also change.
  2. Diseases affect body odor: Metabolic diseases or other diseases can affect the body odor.
  3. Hormonal changes have an impact on our vapors: Especially adolescents in puberty (including women in menopause) are affected by this change. Because then a certain type of sweat gland changes in the body: the so-called apocrine sweat glands. They are responsible for our sexual 'primordial fragrance'. You decide whether a partner finds us attractive, ie can "smell us good", or not.

What causes body odor anyway?

  • Sweat is the main source of body odor: But it is immensely important because we use it to regulate our body temperature and remove toxins.
  • Bacteria and sweat are not a good combination: Although 99 percent water and 0.5 percent salt, it is the remaining 0.5 percent in sweat that makes life difficult. These contain urea, amino acids, lactic acid, protein, fat and sugar, which in turn are broken down by the millions of bacteria on our skin, which is the cause of body odor. The better the conditions (moisture) for the bacteria to multiply, the more odor.
  • Personal hygiene is the basis against body odor: If you only shower every few weeks, you shouldn't be surprised if the body odor takes over.

Body odor can be avoided. If not, it is due to poor hygiene or a disease. Therefore: Be vigilant about your body odors!

This article may contain links to providers from whom MEN'S HEALTH receives a commission. These links are marked with the following icon: