Your Nose Knows: These Body Odors Can Point To Bigger Health Problems

Have you noticed that you have a little bit of body odor and you haven’t had an issue with it before? Maybe you skipped your shower yesterday, or maybe you scrubbed up and noticed that you still smelled a little wonky. The new odor you are smelling could be an indication that you have a health issue that needs to be checked out by your primary care physician.

Here are some sneaky sources of body odors that could point to bigger health issues.



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Everyone gets stressed out, whether it’s at work, school, or just from personal issues. Anxiety about a certain subject can trigger a release of cortisol, the stress hormone that helps you deal with dangerous situations. Unfortunately, this stress hormone also tends to make people sweat uncontrollably.

“Stress sweat,” which is when you suddenly break out in perspiration, can be especially strong. While sweat alone doesn’t smell, the combo when added to living bacteria on your skin can stink really badly.

Blood Sugar Swings


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If you notice the fruity smell of ketones on you or someone else’s breath, be aware that this is a well-known trademark of blood sugar issues. These issues are severe and can often hint towards having diseases such as hypoglycemia and diabetes. Other symptoms can include frequent urination, excessive thirst, weight gain, and fatigue.

If you don’t take proper care of your blood sugar levels, injuries and even death are possible. Diabetes is not something to mess around with. If you suspect blood sugar issues, see your doctor ASAP.

Birth Control


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There are tons of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that cause body odor side effects. Birth control pills often lead to a dry mouth, which can result in a buildup of sulfur in the mouth. In case you don’t know what sulfur is, it’s famous for having a rotten egg smell.

Interestingly, birth control pills can also affect the way a woman detects smells. We’re not advising anyone to suddenly stop taking their pills, but it’s certainly worth a discussion with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any smell-related side effects.

Bowel Movement Issues


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If you can’t go, you might be one of the many people who simply add a little fiber to your diet. Now what most people don’t know is that too much fiber causes smelly gas. This doesn’t just affect you during the time you’re passing gas, but it can also affect your overall body odor.

During cases of severe constipation, toxins that are released by the digestive system can seep through your pores, giving you a fecal body odor smell. This is not the scent most of us want.

Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies


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Most people overlook the fact that you should take vitamins on a daily basis. Magnesium is the most overlooked mineral in our diets even though it is a powerhouse vitamin. It can even help eliminate excess body odor. Great sources of magnesium are dark chocolate and raw nuts.

Zinc is another mineral that can help combat body odor, since it works to detoxify the body and handle any waste. Dairy products, beans, whole grains, and nuts are good sources of zinc.

Fried Foods


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If you’ve ever hit up the gym after munching on fried food, you know how quickly you sweat out those onions, garlic, and other strong spices. Not only is it unpleasant for you, but it’s unpleasant for your fellow gym-goers. The oils in fried food can quickly become rancid, resulting in poor digestion and body odor.

We already knew that fried food isn’t healthy, so this is just another reason to eliminate or at least reduce it from our diets. Get healthy and smell better — double bonus!

Your Gummy Habit


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The bacteria in your body is the prime source of armpit odors and unfortunately, it loves gummies just as much as you do. The refined sugar in these sweets tends to promote an overgrowth of yeast which converts sugars to alcohols. This can cause you to smell the opposite of sweet.

In addition to refined sugar, reducing white flour, hydrogenated oils, and other processed foods can all help you improve the way you smell.

Urinary Tract Infections


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Urinary tract infections are very uncomfortable, and unfortunately, they are very common for many women. One of the first signs of having a UTI is a strong ammonia or slightly sweet scent.

This might not make sense at first since they’re completely opposite smells, but they both boil down to the same thing. Even your urine will begin to smell odd. If you don’t take care of it, the infection can become very concentrated, resulting in an ammonia smell to come out of your pores.

Deodorant And Soap


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This one will blow your mind. The little magical stick that you buy to keep odors away might actually make it worse. Some ingredients in deodorants can encourage smelly bacterial growth by feeding it.

The same goes for certain soap — the very thing you use to avoid smelling like a gym sock. Instead of using products with counteractive ingredients, try showering with some lemon juice diluted with water and apple cider vinegar. Tea tree is also a great natural antifungal ingredient to look for in soaps and deodorants.

Low-Carb Diets


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The vegans and vegetarians might’ve been right all along. Because of a person’s built-up body chemistry, some individuals aren’t able to metabolize foods that contain a large amount of choline such as eggs, fish and legumes. Foods that are high in protein require an active metabolic breakdown by the body and can increase body odor.

Low carb diets have been popular for years now, and some people swear by them. But if your diet is affecting the way you smell, it might be time to rethink what you eat.

Stinky Feet


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When your feet are tucked away in warm, moist and dark environments, otherwise known as shoes, they nurture bacteria. Especially if you’re anti-sock. About 15 percent of the population actually has abnormally sweaty feet due to genetics. This can lead to micrococcus sedentarius, a bacteria that produces terrible smelling sulfur compounds.

Keeping feet dry with sprays or absorbent powders can help. So can washing thoroughly with an antibacterial soap. Vinegar baths, salt washes, and tea tree soaks can also reduce odor-causing bacteria.

Not Alternating Bras Enough


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Most of us ladies have too many bras, but we always lean towards wearing our few favorite bras much more frequently than the others. How often do you actually wash these favorite bras, versus swapping out with your less-favored ones? Due to fabrics and materials touching sweat-prone places, you definitely need to wash those bras more than you think. Neglecting to do so can cause some major odors.

There are some strong opinions out there about how frequently bras need to be washed, but if yours smells bad it’s a safe bet that it could use a good cleaning.

You’ve Been Drinking


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While you can’t sweat off a hangover, you do unfortunately sweat out some of the alcohol that you consume. As alcohol makes its way through your blood and the body, it tends to seep out of the pores. It doesn’t matter what you’re drinking, once the body breaks it down, it all smells the same.

Related: many people who drink too much (we mean in the problem category, not social/occasional drinkers) tend to not have the best personal hygiene routines. This can also contribute to body odor.

Too Many Vegetables


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This is another one that might surprise you. After all, we’re always told that eating vegetables is a good thing. And it is, except that some of the veggies that are the best for you can cause you to stink.

Foods like Brussels sprouts and broccoli contain smelly sulfur compounds that circulate in the blood stream. The odors are then released through our urine, breath, and sweat. The solution is to eat a wider variety of veggies that don’t contain as much stinky sulfur.

Rare Genetic Disorders


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Trimethylaminuria (TMAU) is a rare genetic disorder that is caused by mutations in a specific gene. This causes the body to fail to break down the chemical compound trimethylamine. Trimethylamine is what causes a strong fishy smell, and when built up in the body is released in excretions via the sweat, urine and breath.

People with TMAU should avoid foods that contain trimethylamine. These include wheat germ, eggs, legumes, saltwater fish, and organ meats such as livers, brains, and hearts. Most patients who make these dietary changes notice drastic improvements in their body odor.

Thyroid Problems


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An overactive thyroid gland is another cause of body odor. The thyroid gland causes us to sweat. When it’s working overtime, which is what happens when you have hyperthyroidism, the body excretes an excessive amount of sweat — even with little or no exertion.

The thyroid should be checked for proper functioning once every year or two. This procedure consists of blood tests and/or imaging tests. Hyperthyroidism is treatable. If you notice an unnatural amount of sweat and experience the body odor that comes along with it, see a doctor.



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We discussed the effect of certain birth control pills on body odor earlier, but there are other medications that can wreak havoc on our smells. Each person’s body reacts differently to various medications, so it’s not possible to predict whether a drug will alter your body’s scent.

However, there are some medications that are common culprits — especially antidepressants that contain Bupropion Hydrochloride. This chemical compound is known to cause excessive sweating in some patients, which frequently leads to an increase in body odor. Talk with your doctor about alternate medications if you’re experiencing changes in your sweat and/or body odor.

Liver Damage


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Liver damage can have serious effects on your overall health. Some symptoms of liver damage include but are not limited to an abnormal metabolism of fats, digestive problems, blood sugar problems, hormonal imbalances and nervous system damage.

It is also known to cause people foul body odors, especially coming from the breath. This is because the liver isn’t able to process proteins anymore, and those protein odors are released from the lungs to the mouth. Anyone with this advanced state of liver damage should see a doctor immediately.



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Hyperhidrosis, also known as polyhidrosis or sudorrhea, is a term for excessive sweating. This can affect just one area, typically one’s hands or underarms, or it can spread throughout the whole body. Although this condition isn’t life threatening, it can result in some very uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. In some severe cases, there may also be irritation and skin problems sprouting from fungal and bacterial infections.

Your doctor can discuss treatment options, which include prescription creams, nerve-blocking medications, and prescription antiperspirant. Don’t worry, there’s hope!

You’re Aging


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We have some bad news. The rumored “old people smell” is a real thing. It’s inevitable that our odor changes as we age. This is because of our bodies’ production of nonenal, which is a result of the skin’s antioxidant defenses deteriorating.

The good news is that you can limit nonenal production by living a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and take your antioxidant vitamins. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a good personal hygiene routine. Aging doesn’t have to be a negative experience!