Have you ever heard of fish smell syndrome? This syndrome is characterized by a strong body odor like the smell of rotten fish.
Actually, every healthy person must sweat. The sweat produced by each person will be different, whether it's different in number, frequency, and the odor caused by the sweat. Many things affect sweat production, but the most common is the warmer the air temperature, the sweat production will increase. This is intended to maintain the body's normal temperature.
The smell of sweat that actually arises is caused by bacteria found on the surface of the skin and the more bacteria that are on the skin, the more odor your sweat can cause. But unlike this fish smell syndrome, not only sweat that smells like fish, urine and mouth also smells of rotten fish.
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What is fish odor syndrome?
There is a rare disease called fish odor syndrome, or in medical language called trimethylaminuria. This fish odor syndrome is characterized by body, urine, and breath that smell like the smell of rotten fish. This odor arises as a result of the patient's body being unable to change trimethylamine chemicals. So that when the body fails to break down and change these chemicals, trimethylamine will continue to accumulate and affect the smell of sweat, urine, and breath of the patient.
What are the symptoms and signs of fish odor syndrome?
The symptoms caused by this syndrome are the appearance of an unpleasant odor from the sufferer. This unpleasant odor arises in sweat, urine, saliva, and vaginal fluids, and no other symptoms appear.
Sometimes some people also emit very strong and unpleasant body odors, but usually this will change depending on the condition. But in fish odor syndrome patients, the odor that appears will remain and does not depend on the condition. In some cases, this syndrome occurs in children, but it occurs in just a few moments and will disappear in a matter of months or years.
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What is the main cause of fish odor syndrome?
In normal people, bacteria that are in the intestine help us to digest foods such as eggs, nuts, and other foods. Then the results of the digestive process are trimethylamine chemicals.
A healthy person will automatically release an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down these chemicals and does not cause trimethylamine to accumulate in the body. However, not in people with fish odor syndrome. They just can't produce this enzyme. This causes trimethylamine to be produced continuously by the body without being broken down by enzymes. The more amount of trimethylamine in the body, the worse the person's body odor will be.
This inability to produce the enzyme responsible for metabolizing trimethylamine is caused by the FMO3 gene mutation that is owned by fish odor syndrome sufferers. Usually, mutated genes are passed down by parents of patients who also have the same syndrome. One parent - father or mother - might be the bearer of this gene which is then passed on to his child.
Someone who has mutated carrier genes from FMO3 more often does not cause any symptoms or does not suffer from fish odor syndrome too, even if they have the syndrome the duration is not too long.
Other causes of fish odor syndrome
Not all sufferers who experience fish odor syndrome have mutated genes. Some cases can be caused by excess protein consumption or an increase in the number of intestinal bacteria that produce trimethylamine in the body. In fact, in some cases, patients with liver and kidney disease are also at risk of developing fish odor syndrome, because they have an inactive FMO3 enzyme that allows them to not metabolize trimethylamine.
In addition, women are more likely to suffer from this syndrome than men. The reason is because female sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen, can aggravate the symptoms that appear. Some conditions can even worsen the odor, such as:
- Puberty in women
- Before and after the menstrual period
- After taking birth control pills
- Approaching menopause
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How do you treat fish odor syndrome?
Until now no treatment has been found that can deal with fish odor syndrome, because this syndrome is greater due to genetics. But people with fish odor syndrome can reduce the odor caused by living a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy foods. Foods that must be avoided so that the odor is reduced is:
- Cow's milk
- Red beans
- Various soybean products
- Various kinds of seafood
While sometimes people with fish odor syndrome are also recommended to take antibiotics that can reduce the number of bacteria in the intestine which then reduce trimethylamine production.