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Alcoholism and body odor
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Alcoholism and body odor

My husband is 50 years old and a severe alcoholic, while we've been together for three years, he has been drinking heavily for most of the past 35 years. Primarily only beer, but drinks at least 10-12 beers a night. I have noticed that after drinking all night, a very peculiar (and extremely unpleasant) odor on his skin which doesn't go away until he showers in the morning. Is this common? Is it just alcohol evaporating through his pores, or a sympton of something much more serious like liver disease?
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Avatar_m_tn
Can't say whether it's his liver or not, but a lot of beer will make you smell.  My wife used to complain about my odor a lot- when ever I would sweat, the beer came through my pores.  I think that this is one of the ways that alcohol leaves your body.  With a 12 back a day, it probably never fully leaves him.
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243614_tn?1266201137
My friend told me the same thing about her husband.  He too drinks about a 12 pack a night.  She said it is an awful smell.  tj
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a female friend (neighbour) that drinks white wine, all day and every day. She has had tests and her liver is stuggling. I notice that she has a rather un-pleasent and sour odor and her breath also smells bad. I don't know but I think it could be all the alcohol leaving the body.

I don't say anything as it may upset her but she did tell me a few months back that a lady on a bus had sat next to her had mentioned that she could smell a strong odor like garlic. She asked my friend if she had eaten garlic but she hadn't, the lady then said that the smell actually wasn't the same as garlic...like a sour smell. My friend was upset by this and asked my opinion, but of course I don't want to upset her more.
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535294_tn?1219933712
Thanks, at least I know he's not the only one. It was really bad again last night, he had a lot to drink on Father's Day, and started really early. I believe you're right, it probably never really leaves him. He had an appt to go take our dog to the vet this morning for shots ads grooming at 7:30, never made that appointment and I had to reschedule. I knew even if I woke him up, he'd never get his car started before 10 or 11 this morning or whenever the machine determines that he has metabolized enough alcohol to put him under whatever the limit the machine is set at.
I suppose each state is different, after my husband's 2nd DUI the state of Colorada revoked his driver's license. They really weren't concerned with whether or not he drank, only that he didn't drive while doing it. Of course that didn't stop him from just driving without a license. After we got married I convinced him to go through the court-ordered process to get his license reinstated which was mandatory classes and counseling, and then an interlock system installed in his car. That was very expensive to have installed, it requires monthly monitoring and payments, and after a year the department of transportation will evaluate the computer-tracked results to see how many "fails" he had and decide if he should keep it another year or more or give him an unrestricted license.  I would prefer that he have to drive with that thing in his car forever, at least I don't have to worry about him starting the car after he's been drinking, since it will not start. The bad thing about this approach is that he still has a severe drinking problem, and will most likely drink and drive again when the court restores his license.
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535294_tn?1219933712
Your friend sounds like it is the same problem I have with my husband. It is a really strange and unpleasant smell, there really isn't anything that comes to mind to compare it to. When we first got married, I convinced to please go get a physical for me since he hadn't had one since he was in the Marines many years ago. He agreed, but when his bloodwork results came back and his liver levels were abnormal, he refused to go back for more tests. And the said thing is, I know he never will. He will never quit drinking, and he will never get any type of treatment. He is just going to drink himself to death...probably sooner than later.
I am fortunate that while he only drinks beer, and too much of it, it doesn't affect his job and he doesn't lose his temper and get nasty like many people that drink too much do. The biggest problem is when he has to start the car early and can't. But, he is a geophysical engineer and travels 3 weeks or so a month in natural gas exploration so he doesn't have that problem when he's out in the field. His technicians drive and he is always sober when he's working.....I guess it could be worse.
I just really worry about him, and would love to have him with me for many more years, but he is a grown man and has made his own choices relative to his health.
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm really sorry to hear that you have to deal with all this.  You're right about his health; if he continues to drink while his liver enzymes are abnormal, he'll end up in poor shape.  From what I read, it's and aweful death to die of liver failure, and it can drag out a long time.  I don't say this to upset you--- I just hope he can find a way to get straight, because you can't drink like that forever.  I was a functional alikie too, but I began to break down in the end.  The good news is that I caught it in time and reversed things; He can do this too.

I wish you all the best.  See if you can get him to do a scan of his liver (CT scan or Ultrasound).  It will tell him a lot- it might even scare him in to stopping.
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535294_tn?1219933712
I wish I had the power to get him to go for the cat scan or ultrasound, he will never do it. I think he has resigned himself to whatever his future health holds and has decided that he is going to enjoy whatever is left of his life the way he wants to. One of the saddest things is, he is a very intelligent man, but in this matter he would prefer to bury his head in the sand. So, all I can do is encourage moderation and try to promote as much healthy living as I can in spite of the alcohol. Unfortunately, there are many days that he will not even eat, beer is his only sustinance and I cannot force feed a grown man, and I'm really tired of fighting with him about it. If he is really content the way things are, all I can really do is make the most of whatever time we have. After 35 years of excessive daily drinking, I don't know what to expect. I've even tried to lay the guilt on him regarding the fact that I am going to have to be his nursemaid when he gets to the point where his illness is incapacitating, he says he'll find a way to end it quickly...I don't see anyway that I can win here. He's really a good person and I love him very much, so I think all I can do is just be there and hope for the best for as long as possible.
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Avatar_f_tn
hi suzy -

it hurts reading your story, knowing you will lose your husband to an ugly death. i've been there though our situations hold many differences. believe me, the last thing i want to do is sound harsh, but it's just this:

rather than attempting to guilt your husband into doing something about saving his life, you might want to think about tough love. as in, "i refuse to sit here and watch you kill yourself. not when you won't do the simplest thing like see a doctor to uncover some possibilities that are open to you." then i'd talk about leaving him. please, please, i'm not saying this at all as if i think it'd be easy. there's a very real chance that i'd never be able to do it either. if i was going to threaten it though, i suppose i'd be hoping i meant it, or could go thru with it. what i'm sure i wouldn't do is allow him to just stick his head in the sand while yours is up here in the air and it's *you* that must do the worrying. and since he's going to be so inconsiderate as to put you in that place, he needs to go to the doctor. what are his reasons for not going? obviously he knows it's because there's bad news. do you have any children together?

i feel for you, i do. i hope there's some way you can get him to be reasonable or that he has his own epiphany and maybe decides he'd really like to live after all. oh, by the way, i don't think the smell you describe is excreted beer from his system. i'm sure someone could explain it better than i, but in advanced liver disease or end stage/cirrhosis the liver no longer is able to excrete waste properly and bile or something builds up in the skin, causing jaundice and i guess the smell is due to ineffectual waste excretion.

i'll think healing thoughts for you and wish you much good luck. and don't forget, take care of you and let others who love you join you in that you-caretaking.

izzy
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