Bad body odor can have a variety of causes. Here are some serious medical conditions that can cause an abnormal body odor.
It’s easy to make lighthearted humor about a bad body odor, attributing it to poor hygiene and the need to “take a bath”, but body odor can sometimes be the principle sign of a serious health condition. If the source for body odor is medical, no amount of personal hygiene care will cure the body odor problem.
Most cases of body odor will be shown to have a relatively simple cause such as poor personal hygiene practices and the intake of certain foods such as garlic and other spices which may be eliminated through the skin. If a person lives in a warm climate and undergoes exertion, the bacteria present in the underarm area will produce breakdown products that will give off an odor if the person doesn’t bathe the moist areas.
A bad body odor can also be caused by hormonal fluctuations such as those seen in children who are undergoing puberty, women who are experiencing menopause, or persons experiencing extreme mental or physical stress. Certain persons may also be genetically predisposed to developing a strong body odor. These are all relatively “normal” causes of body odor.
More serious are the various disease states that can cause the development of a bad body odor. One of the most common medications that can cause a body odor is diabetes. This is particularly true when a person’s blood sugars are poorly controlled and they develop a condition called ketoacidosis. This condition not only gives the breath a fruity smell but can also cause a distinctive body odor. This condition is considered to be a medical emergency and should be treated right away.
Bad body odor can also be a sign of serious liver or kidney disease where the body is incapable to processing and removing certain toxins due to the diseased organ. These conditions can be ruled out by blood tests which measure kidney and liver function.
Occasionally, an overactive thyroid can cause a problem with body odor due to the tendency of the patient to sweat excessively due to the hyper functioning thyroid gland. This is another condition that can be ruled out from physical examination and blood studies.
Less commonly, bad body odor can be caused by certain metabolic problems that a person is born with which causes certain metabolic breakdown products to be released through the skin.
If you’ve tried all the conventional remedies for body odor without success, it might be best to see your doctor and have some simple blood tests run to rule out more serious medical conditions as the cause of your body odor.