Although physicians are taught to use all their senses upon entering a room to diagnose patients, they rely heavily on laboratory findings from medical tests. Physicians also rely on equipment and instruments like the stethoscope to examine patients. One would not believe that smell is one of the senses that can be used in diagnosing diseases and disorders. There are some scents that are emitted by certain diseases. Let’s look at 5 of these diseases.
1. Typhoid Fever
In 1976, a medical journal article explained that patients who suffer from typhoid fever discharge a smell like freshly baked bread. While the scent of freshly baked bread may be satisfying, the disease is pretty terrifying. Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella Typhi. It may be mild or severe, but its symptoms include high fever, abdominal pain, weakness, constipation and a rose-coloured skin rash. Typhoid fever is not very common but it occurs in areas which are unhygienic. The disease can be treated with antibiotics, although some strains are more resistant today.
2. Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes. When the body does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin, the body cannot use glucose to create energy which it needs. Instead, fat is broken down to get energy and ketones are produced in the process. Acetone is the main ketone. The body then enters a state of diabetic ketoacidosis. In this condition, the ketone levels rise to unsafe levels. The acetone in the body, which is a similar component found in nail polish, has a fruity smell that is easy to detect. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be diagnosed by this smell on the patient’s breath.
3. Maple Syrup Urine Disease
A person who suffers from maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), experiences a sweet smell of maple syrup every time he or she urinates. This disease is a metabolic disorder that affects the process in which the patient breaks down certain amino acids. This means that the amino acids are excreted from the body through the urine which causes a distinct smell. Infants who are affected by this disease, may look normal and healthy at birth and can later develop life threatening symptoms. Sweet smelling urine is an early sign of maple syrup urine disease. There is no cure but it can be controlled.
4. Arsenic Poisoning
Arsenic is a highly toxic chemical which has been used for centuries to manufacture a large number of products ranging from pesticides to bullets. People who live in remote villages can get in contact with this chemical through contaminated ground water. Arsenic poisoning blocks enzymes which the body requires to create energy. Some of the symptoms of arsenic toxicity are vomiting, abdominal pain, encephalopathy, bloody diarrhea and eventually death. A garlic odor which emanates from the body of a victim is a symptom of arsenic toxicity.
5. Bacterial Infections
Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is a bacterium which may cause many types of infections in humans. It is a common infection in persons suffering from diabetes, cystic fibrosis, burn patients and persons using drugs. If not treated with urgency, it can become very dangerous. It is rated an opportunistic bacteria because it relies on pre-existing diseases or conditions to occur. Although it can be identified in laboratory tests, it is obvious by a grape-like odor from the patient. Some people also describe the odor as being similar to a tortilla.
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