Posted on: January 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm
Last updated: September 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Ailment-induced odors are far from the domain of obscure problems like maple syrup-urine disease ortrimethylaminuria—a genetic condition that makes sufferers smell like rotten fish. But a study released by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that there are subtle differences in a person’s body, breath, blood, and urine odor that denote illness and possibly threat of contagion.

The finding is not, strictly speaking, a new discovery. Certain diseases have been observed to cause a person’s body odor to change due to how they affect the body’s chemical arrangements. Typhoid fever has been observed to make victims smell like baked bread and diabetes has a trademark odor of rotten apples due to low concentrations of acetone. However, normally it takes a trained nose (or a dog) to notice the difference.


What the Swedish team attempted to do was assess the impact of illness in general on body odor rather than focus on a specific ailment. The theory was that the ability to sniff out infected individuals was an evolution meant to allow for identification and avoidance of the ill.

Can you eat chocolate on the Keto diet? Good news!

Download our free report today for instant access to 28 recipes for making delicious chocolate treats — all 100% Keto approved.


The study employed eight healthy volunteers who were either injected with a placebo or with a compound called LPS, which is known to trigger immune and inflammatory responses. In this manner, the volunteers who were given LPS began experiencing a form of generic immune response to invading bacteria. Volunteers wore T-shirts that were then collected and presented to a panel of nose-trained judges. The panel of 40 then had the unenviable task of sniffing the shirts and describing the intensity and pleasantness of the smell. The LPS-injected bodies were observed to have a more repellant smell, suggesting that illness affects body odor.

The team undertook additional studies later on that found smelling something unpleasant, whether another person or something like rotting food, was enough to trigger a slight immune reaction. This suggests that the body uses scent as a form of warning light and will attempt to stave off possible infection in response to offensive odors.

Further research is planned to investigate how illness affects the scent of urine and breath, although these elements will prove harder to test. As anyone who has eaten garlic or asparagus can attest, how one’s breath and urine smell is sometimes more a matter of what you’ve eaten rather than whether you are ill.


This article was republished with permission from

Image Source:


Doctors Health Press
Health Expert
Launched in 2003, the Doctors Health Press is a health news and advice site. The goal of this site is to provide our readers with the most current, up-to-date health news, breakthroughs and advice, with a particular focus on natural and alternative health advice. Our mission is to arm our readers with the knowledge to make informed decisions on their health, while cutting through the clutter and rhetoric of the mainstream media and health establishment from a group of doctors and health experts you can trust.

A Special Message From Our Founders

Over the past few years of working with health experts all over the world, there’s one major insight we’ve learned.

You don’t have to rely on expensive medications for the rest of your lives.

Most health problems can often be resolved with a good diet, exercise and a few powerful superfoods. In fact, we’ve gone through hundreds of scientific papers and ‘superfood’ claims and only selected the top 5% that are:

  • Backed by scientific research
  • Affordable
  • Simple to use

We then put this valuable information into the Superfood as Medicine Guide: a 100+ page guide on the 7 most powerful superfoods available, including:

  • Exact dosages for every health ailment
  • DIY recipes to create your own products
  • Simple recipes
Use Superfoods as Medicine e-book

Grab your copy before the offer runs out!