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What exactly causes that stench?

"My husband is a self-proclaimed functional alcoholic, and has no intention of quitting drinking. He drinks an average of 1 1/2 bottles of wine a night followed by a glass of scotch. He's 64, and has been drinking like this for over 40 years. Within the past month, he has developed the worst body odor I've ever smelled. It isn't ketosis, and has no chemical, alcohol, ammonia smell. It's a sweet stench that gets on the sheets, towels, everything he touches, and sometimes it goes away, but always comes back. I know it's alcohol-related, but would like to know exactly what it means, and exactly what causes it. I've read many of these (and other websites) posts, and have read a lot of guesses, but would like to know exactly what it is a symptom of. Is it liver-related, kidney-related, or what? I cannot stand that stench."
3 Responses
3060903 tn?1398565123
Sorry i have no  idea, and i'm a non practicing alcoholic. Can you ask a doctor? they would know most likely if you don't get an definitive answer here, or even your pharmacist might know. .  I thinks at important thing to find out , if it happens to be the start of something life threatening, it might slow down his consumption.

Please update us when you find out ? and good luck.
203342 tn?1328737207
Is it an oily smell by any chance? My husband has a strange, oily smell, almost like car oil but he's not a mechanic. I too wondered if it had to do with his drinking or health somehow.
Avatar universal
My mother has a horrid almost deathly smell about her -- I have read quite a bit trying to figure out what is causing this smell,no answers as of yet.....
Unfortunately, my dear Mother is an end stage alcoholic .She has been drinking non stop for 35 yrs. In the past she was high functioning and she was the bread winner of the couple  (step - father is an alcoholic as well, just he wasn't as high functional as she was). Now that she's retired for about 7-8 yrs. ,her drinking has increased 10 fold! Now, she throws up constantly and and has major bathroom issues. Her odor is soo bad that you cannot sit next to her and God Forbid you get stuck in a car with her! To me it smells rotten and fetid, almost like her organs are rotting in her body! We have tried in vane to get her to the doctors but, she will not go!Does anyone know what this is? Any help would be super appreciated. Thanks and God Bless to you all!
I have no idea if this person is correct but found this post elsewhere.
"This is a real phenomenon and can continue for awhile (days, possibly weeks) after the consumption of alcohol in an alcoholic. After years of heavy drinking, a person can develop a bizarre type of body odor which may almost smell chemically. It readily gets into clothing and bedding. The whole house can eventually stink like it, particularly a room that the alcoholic spends any considerable time in. The urine and breath of the person may also carry the smell.

The person may find that the smell cannot be washed away by bathing or showering and that deodorants may actually make it worse. The bathroom may noticeably have the smell after the person showers. Taking a milk thistle supplement may reduce this problem but will not cure it. Only permanently abstaining from alcohol use can cure this problem.

Assumedly, the odor stems from toxin buildup which the liver is no longer able or willing to eliminate on its own and thus begins to excrete through the skin. The symptom itself is likely a sign of a damaged liver, or at the least, a very overtaxed one. However, in most individuals who do not have critical organ failure, the symptom will probably resolve with continued abstinence. IMO, the smell should be considered a warning sign that serious toxicological trouble could lie ahead if the person continues to drink, and hopefully will serve as an inspiration to quit before damage becomes more severe and permanent.
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