Diabetes - Type 1 Community
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Avatar universal

Copper-y smell?

My pal's daughter has this experience.  Any ideas what this might be from?  The daughter is 12 and seems to be heading for DM along an unusual path, but one that her mom (my pal) is experiencing, too.  This latest symptom has baffled us all.

"When her blood sugars are too high, her hands begin to reek of the smell of copper (like the smell when you rub a penny & it gives off a warm odor). The rest of her body does, too, but not as intensely as her hands. She said she has noticed this symptom for some time, but I became aware of it recently when she was with me in our vehicle and the smell was strong enough for me to wonder if there was something wrong with my van."

10 Responses
Avatar universal
I am going to give you a quote from a doctor:

Dr Martin W. Fryer, (PhD School of Physiology & Pharmacology University of New South Wales)

"Without trying to be too technical I think you can probably say that this ketone body smell is a consequence of fat metabolism. It depends on the nature of the smell. The smell of ketone bodies is characteristically sweet (somewhat like the smell of nail polish remover). It is different from an ammonia- like smell that might result from muscle (protein) breakdown. Ketone bodies are synthesized by the liver whenever fatty acid levels are high in the blood.

Under normal conditions there are very few ketone bodies in the blood because they are chewed up as quickly as they are formed. Excess ketone bodies are made by the liver when blood glucose is kept persistently low or when glucose uptake into cells is not working efficiently. This latter situation occurs with insulin-dependent diabetics - the smell of ketone bodies on their breath is a diagnostic sign of their disease."

Now, back to your question about the coppery smell. This could easily be the keytone smell that he describes. At age 12, though, another thought comes to mind: hormones. At certain times during the month, blood sugars will probably rise due to insulin-inhibiting hormones being present. You may want to not only check for keytones, but take note of when this odor seems to be present in order to determine whether it is hormonal and just happens to coincide with high blood sugars due to hormonal imbalance or whether she actually has an acedosis problem happening. Obviously, if you test for keytones and find that ketosis is happening, then this needs to be addressed ASAP. If no keytones are present, my bet would be that hormonal changes are taking place and this odor may be a harmless side affect.

As a type 1 diabetic myself, I can attest to the same coppery smell after a severe hypoglycemic reaction, but then it is the overabundant perspiration from the sweats that is causing the odor. Hands normally do not sweat much, but certainly do during insulin shock. Perhaps some change occurs when her blood sugar is high that allows the hands to perspire. I personally have never noticed a coppery smell on myself when blood sugar is high. Any others out there with insight on this?
Avatar universal
**Many thanks!!! ***

My pal will be interested in reading this.
Avatar universal
Sheen424, for someone claiming to be oooooh soooo educated and knowing more than doctors you sure are an idiot. You know nothing about diabetes. Everything you said is out of total ignorance and lack of knowledge. First off, yes certain conditions can create odors. Our bodies are full of enzymes, chemicals, electrolygtes, muscle , tissue, fat, acid...need I go on? When our body  Ph is out of balance, or when there is something not working correct, when fats and muscle are being burned...it creates an odor. Why do you think you smell when you sweat? It brings out bacteria. Or that you reek if you  never bathe? It brings out natural body odors of oils. Also, diabetes isn't an "old person's. disease." What an asinine remark. If you  knew even a thing about diabetes you would know it can affect anyone at anytime. I have herd this riduclous statement so many times in my life I find it disturbing. I am Type 1 diabetic I am thirty years old, and I devoloped diabetes at nineteen and since then if I had a dime for everytime some moron told me , "Diabetes...you are too young for that. , "Diabetes? Only the elderly get that." , "If you are getting diabtes at your age you need to take better care of yourself,. "Honey it can'tbe diabetes, only old people get that.", 'You don't need to be taking insulin,you can't be diabetic..you are too young."

That level of misinformation and lack of understanding scares me.  Because those are the types that would try to stand in the way of a diabetic's treatment because they think they know what is best, they are the type if their child became sick with diabetes wouldn't take them to a doctor to start insulin treatment, and they are the type that could convince perhaps newly diagnoses diabetes that are not yet that informed...that they are right, and persaude them to stop taking treatment. I have see all those situations before. I work in an ER, and it is actually very disturbing how many parents wait until their child is literally deathly ill and in the final stages of DKA (i.e nearing death) before they drag them to the ER. Then we tell the parents their child is Type 1 Diabetic, "No no no that isn't possible...they are just a kid..."

DKA is painful and drawn out, I could go into detail but it would take all day. I can't imagine forcing your child or a love one to go through to the point of almost dying before they bring them to a doctor and accept it is diabetes.

So the point being Sheena424 my point being, people who think like you are dangerous. You claim to have just enough medical knowledge that you can be deadly to someone who may not know any better and trust you. If you had even an iota of education about diabetes and what causes it you wouldn't have said any of that , that you said.  You don't even seem to know what it is about!

Also herbs do not cure nor treat diabetes, there is no cure for diabetes. I wish all you natural path, alternative medicine morons would ge that. I could also go on for hours about patients that come into the ER with not just diabetes, but a multitude of illnesses and conditions that listened to people like you, took some random and unsafe herbs, avoided the actual treatment they needed and wound up in worse condition they were to begin with.

There isn't an herb for diabetes, there never has been and never will be. Like I said, if you knew what diabetes was and what caused it and the role of insulin in the body...you would understand why that is. That is like saying one does not REALLY need blood...just take some herbs. Besides that, you can't even name ONE herb...you just give a vague, "take herbs" barking order.

And what is that remark about diabetes isn't serious? It is one the largest killers in the world...especially in  parts of the world with lack of education on the condition. Diabetes leads to a list of diseases and systemic problems if it is untreated.  It isn't just about "not eating sweet" sorry....darlin' you were wrong again. It also isn't caused by eating too many sweets or being fat...yes Type 2 diabetes can be brought on by being overweight...but that isn't the sole cause, and with Type 1...weight has no baring either way.

You are one of those people that think if you just don't give your kids candy and pop they will be healthy forever....I pray to whatever god is listening that you either do not have kids and never have kids...or if you do...when they get sick you take them to a doctor. Not just pop some random herb down their throat and tell them to get over it.

And parents are not to blame if a child becomes diabetetic...it isn't neglect. Would you bring an ashmatic child's parent's up on charges? In fact...people like you who deny your children medicine, vaccines and modern treatment for sickness and disease whould be brought up on neglect charges. You would rather let your child suffer senslessly to something that could be prevented all together than admit you know nothing and are wrong.  Ego's never did a good job at child-rearing.

And modern medicine isn't evil and corrupt...millions of dollars, research and labor and time are put into trying to find cures, better treatments and prevention for diseases and conditions. You are clearly someone who has no inside knowledge of how medicine and healthcare work...you watch some documentary probably by Michael Moore or whatever the media tells you and you believe it because you are too full of yourself, blind and lazy to do actual research into any subject matter you can't control.

It offends, irks, an concerns me that people like you exist...by the thousands if not millions it seems. I deal with your stupidity daily...and someday I am going to put aside my professinal bedside manner and just blow up in one of you faces...hopefully it will be yours, and hopefully it will be before you let your child die and suffer of something they do not need to.

Avatar universal
Why are my posts coming up saying Sheen424  you posted it? Anyway...I am trying to post under my name.  I am going to email the adminstrator about this....grrrrr
Avatar universal
I am interested in more information on the causes of this strange smell as I notice it on myself sometimes, being a type 1 diabetic as well.  I notice it(although Im not sure I would call it a copper smell, just a wierd one) more after sleeping all night, my room smells of this particular smell.  It must be me because Ive noticed the same smell in several rooms Ive slept.  Its really starting to bug me.  Anybody out there know anything about this and why it would be more noticable after sleeping?
Avatar universal
I have noticed my hands smelling like copper as well. I have noticed this about four of five in the last two weeks. I have also been having really bad headaches. I am a 39 year old female. Any clues on what may causing the copper smell? Do you think the smell and the headaches are related?
Avatar universal
From a very simplistic perspective it might be this.  Just a HUGE guess though.  I have NO idea if this is right but if the smell happens during high blood sugar one thing might explain it.  There is something called Superoxide Dismutase (SD), which helps battle oxidative stress.  As diabetics have higher oxidative stress, SD might be needed in larger quantities.  SD needs Copper to work and its thought that zinc is needed to stabilize it.  If you are low in zinc, SD might not be as stable and might allow copper to break away.  The temporarily freed copper might cause the smell. And since some diabetics are also low in zinc, it seems plausible.  Maybe try supplementing with zinc and see if the smell disappears?
Avatar universal
Oops, forgot to say, even if its not SD issues that cause the smell, it could maybe be just an imbalance of copper.  And since vitamin C often helps people with excessive copper levels, if the zinc doesn't help, maybe try vitamin C (which sometimes helps with headaches too).  Since vitamin C is often seen as helpful for diabetics as well, it couldn't hurt to try it for a little bit to see if it helps with either the smell or the headaches.  And as always talk to a doctor first before you try any supplements to make sure it's safe for you and your specific health circumstances!  :)
1576607 tn?1296117346
OMG!!! I have been experiencing the smell too for over a year!!!!! I have never been tested for diabetes but have MANY of the symptoms, I would REALLY like to talk to you more! Thank you, Kim
Avatar universal
sometimes my hands smell like copper and my aunt told me she read that
when people's hands smell like copper they are either on their periods or
ovulating is that true
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