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odors - question for Dr. Kevin
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odors - question for Dr. Kevin

I have had problems with odors since about age 17 (I am now 27).  It started with fecal odors that were very strong that seemed to appear suddenly stay for about a minute then disappear.  The odors seem to smell like sulfur.  Of course, this has had a big impact on my life.  I have had this problem ever since and the only solution that seems to help is taking daily prilosec 10 mg 1-2 times a day, and taking citrucel daily and having a bowel movement almost everyday.  I too went to a GI doctor and he did a colonoscopy and told me I had IBS, but really did not give me any useful advice on the odor.  Is it possible that this could be a digestive enzyme problem or gastric paresis?  
I have also had problems with underarm odor and the only remedy is taking a shower with good water pressure.  Is it possible that I have deep sweat glands in my underarms?
My main concern is that my husband would like to have children and I do not want to pass this on to any children we may have.
Are the bowel odors a genetic problem?  I know the underarm odor problably is, but for some reason shows up only when there is no water pressure.  Your comments are appreciated.
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Hello - thanks for asking your question.

The most common cause of bowel odors are constipation and fecal incontinence.  It is possible that IBS can also contribute.  You have already had a colonoscopy which is a pretty thorough workup.  

Intestinal gas and bloating may also contribute to your body odor.  Of course, IBS is a common cause.  Other causes would include a variety of malabsorption disorders (fat, carbohydrate or Celiac disease).  These can be tested with stool tests and serum antibody tests for Celiac disease.  An overgrowth of intestinal bacteria can also cause an increase in intestinal gas leading to body odor.  

These diseases and their workup can be discussed with your personal physician.  I am unaware of a genetic component for body odor, however depending on the cause, it is certainly possible.  

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.
3 Comments
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Unfortunately I've had the same problem. I'm 17 right now... It disturbs me to think that you've had this problem for 10 years. I've had it for about 6 months. There is a horrible odor that comes from my anus periodically. Usually it is when i'm around other people, so i'm wondering if it's just a psychological issue. but also i do notice it once in a while when i'm by myself too. it definitely is a real odor though and not just mind made. i had a barium enima done and the tests came out regular. i take metamusal capsules to help with the consipation that has accompanied the odor problem. the metamusal helps a tiny bit w/ the odor but not really. this problem seems very rare since i've barely found any information at all about this online. i've isolated myself from people... i don't even have any friends really anymore. i'm thinking about giving up my boyfriend since it's just too embarrassing to be around him. i'll probably just do homeschool my senior year so that the other students won't have to deal w/ sitting by me. i actualyl have really good hygiene though. i take showers daily but the odor still comes. i wonder if it's some sort of incontinence.  if anybody has an idea what this seeping feces like odor could be from, please respond back. thanks
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I too have had the same problem for 14yrs. It started out only occurring maybe for two weeks out of a year. then it got progressively longer, six months on six months off. Now it's almost everyday but instead of just a fecal order it gets stronger depending on the things I eat. e.g. I had cough drops mixed in my tea and for about a week I had to deal w/ a skunky type of order. It's not an easy thing to deal with. I thought if I go to a doctor while the odor was there I would get some help..instead they claim the didn't smell anything and tried to make me think it was something psycological. I smell it and everyone around me does also. people have even joked about the smell. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't exit. I thought I was the only one, but there must hundreds of other experiencing the same thing. The Dr. I saw today was an Endocrinologists the study glands and secretions-he says he has never heard of this smell in his field. hopefully someone will find an interest in this condition and help us.
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About 6 months ago I started to have a fecal odor as well as other unpleasant odors despite good hygiene. I did some research on the web and found a condition called trimethylaminuria in which it is possible that despite good hygiene the odors mentioned above still remain.  There is no cure for it as yet, but the odor can be reduced by having a diet low in choline and taking probiotics such as acidophilus.  I also found that papaya enzymes as well as dandelion and milk thistle help me.
Since I have begun using these my odor has been reduced to the point where it is barely noticeable and recently the odor(hich is now reduced) has been disappearing for longer periods of time.  
There is a yahoo group (trimethylaminuria) which contains  information about this condition.  From other research I have done, they may also be other reasons why this may occur but this one fitted my symptoms.

God bless.
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