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Never ignore these body odours

Never ignore these body odours
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Body odour, from head to toes, can alert doctors to potential health issues – even cancer. Find out what those distinctive smells may signal.

Foul body odour

Foul body odour
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If a shower can’t cut the odour being emitted from your pits, it could be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. “The mineral magnesium helps in ‘deodorising’ our internal organs and also helps with our body odour,” says cardiologist Robert Segal, MD. When we consume too much caffeine and sugar and processed foods, it can deplete magnesium levels. If you’re not smelling so fresh and have other symptoms like muscle cramping, twitching or numbness and tingling, ask your doc about a simple blood test to check your magnesium levels.

More BO

More BO
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If you have a digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you could be short on zinc. This mineral helps your body manage waste and toxins, says Dr. Segal; when a digestive order is present, the body may not absorb zinc as it should. Too little zinc – you might stink. A blood or urine sample can test levels, but zinc has a pretty low presence in the body to begin with. Since it’s related to a digestive order, talk to your doctor about how to manage the odour.

Rotten-egg breath

Rotten-egg breath
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If a floss, brush, or piece of minty gum can’t cut the odour, you may have a bacterial infection, Dr. Segal warns. A common bacteria called H. pylori that can take up residence in your digestive system could be to blame. For some, the bacteria doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms; for others, it can lead to GERD, coeliac disease, stomach ulcers and even gastric cancer. Your doctor can test you for the bug; antibiotics can wipe it out.

Learn how to say goodbye to bad breath for good.

Rotten-apple breath

Rotten-apple breath
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“When we don’t have enough insulin in our body, our liver then creates the chemical ketones, which are our body’s way to compensate for the lack of insulin,” says Dr. Segal. Rotten-apple breath is related to unbalanced insulin-dependent diabetes, according to research published in the Journal of International Society of Preventative and Community Dentistry. This is a clear sign that you should check in with your doctor. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you may need to talk to your doctor about ways to better control your blood sugar.

Learn what’s new and what’s next in the treatment of diabetes.

A smelly nose

A smelly nose
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Since it’s (hopefully) been several years since you stuck a pea or LEGO up your nose, there’s probably another reason your nose smells foul. “The reason it smells is because of the close proximity and interconnectedness of our oral cavity to the sinuses and throat,” says Kathleen R. McDonald, MD. “Nasal odour occurs for a variety of health conditions, like postnasal drip, tonsil stones, a decaying tooth, sinus infections and nasal polyps.” Time to call the doc and have a chat about all your symptoms to find the culprit.

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Pungent ears

Pungent ears
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Yep, your ear wax can turn foul. “If you have really smelly and off-putting ear wax, most likely you’re suffering from an infection of some kind, and that’s what’s leading to the pungent aroma,” says Dr. McDonald. “Another example of this is when you have ingrown hairs or a sebaceous cyst, and when that irritation or infection ruptures, the by-product within is almost always foul-smelling.” Ring up your primary-care physician to identify and treat the odour.

Follow our guide to keeping your hearing.

Feet that reek

Feet that reek
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Maybe it’s not the shoes’ fault your feet stink: According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, excessive sweating of the feet – all-day, every day, summer and winter – could be a rare condition called hyperhidrosis. For some, the sweating is so intense that their feet are actually sliding around inside their shoes. If your feet are always sweating and one pair of socks can’t get you through the day, check with a podiatrist to get help in managing the symptoms.

Yucky morning breath

Yucky morning breath
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If you practice good oral hygiene, you shouldn’t be waking up with sewer breath. “In many cases, we see that people who are mouth breathers (due to nasal congestion) are actually people with undiagnosed sleep apnoea [a dangerous sleep disorder]. In addition, it gives them bad breath due to very dry mouth,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specialises in sleep disorders. So if you have bad morning breath and you snore viciously – and especially if you feel exhausted all the time – you should talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study.

Stinkier poo than usual

Stinkier poo than usual
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Yeah, poo is never going to smell good. But if you persistently have loose stools, high-volume diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea, or especially stinky poop, it deserves a check-up. According to Daniel Freedberg, MD, your diet can change your stool’s odour from day to day, but some people with lactose intolerance or C. difficile, a colonic infection, tend to have stools that are stinkier than usual.

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