Hi there. There is an old thread on this topic and I hope some of the people who posted on that will read this. Like some of them, I have been suffering from a very strange, strong, unpleasant body odor that comes and goes. It started about seven years ago. At the end of college, I was very sleep deprived and run down. Then I moved to a different city for grad school. Soon afterward I developed various digestive problems and began hearing people complain about a terrible smell wherever I went, which was strange because my sense of smell was fine but I could smell nothing. It was so strong that a woman fifteen feet away put her shirt over her nose. People also offered me gum for my breath. I showered, washed my hair, brushed and flossed, and put on deodorant every day, so it wasn't a hygiene problem.
I went to scads of doctors and most of them suggested I was being paranoid. Finally, on a visit home my mom noticed the odor (which was usually worse when I was stressed out or flustered) and told me about it, although it was difficult for her. Now at least I could report to the doctors that I had some corroboration--they always said they couldn't smell anything, which may have been true since it was so unpredictable. I went to gastroenterologists, dermatologists, gynecologists, an endocrinologist, a naturopath, and an acupuncturist on top of the general practitioners--no ideas. I read about trimethylaminuria, or TMAU, but the smell didn't appear reliably after I'd eaten eggs, fish, or legumes.
Several doctors looked in my throat and said everything looked normal--tiny tonsils, etc. But I did have tonsil stones--little stinky pellets that would occasionally pop into my mouth. I used to just swallow them assuming they were dried mucus, but when I got a look (and sniff) at them I did some research on the Internet and found they came from crypts or holes in the tonsils--opinions vary as to how they form but they are calcified and bacteria-rich. My ENT doubted they could be causing body odor, but we went ahead and took my tonsils out. (FYI, if you are an adult having this done, try to get at least 10 days off work and make sure someone is around to help take care of you for the first few days--it wasn't as painful as I feared but it's a long and bumpy recovery.)
Long after the surgery, however, I continued having the little stinky pellets occasionally, only now they were smaller. And a few months ago, my mom told me that she could smell the BO again. She said it was very unusual and hard to describe but "acrid," "tangy," unlike normal sweat, and definitely not a healthy smell. (Other people have been more colorful in their descriptions--"cheap paint thinner," "***** [rhymes with store] sweat," and of course "disgusting.") I had read about little children who stick something in their noses and the putrefied smell eventually spreads through their bodies, making them smell all over. So I went to another ENT and got his opinion. He said it was conceivable it had something to do with my sinuses (not that I'd stuck anything in there!) and ordered a sinus CT scan. After he reviewed it he said my sinuses were perfect but my adenoids were enlarged. Wanting to be as aggressive as possible since this is such a HORRIBLE problem to have, I asked him to take them out and he did. Adenoidectomy is much easier than tonsillectomy--you can have it done on a Friday and feel pretty much back to normal by Monday.
When I went for the followup visit, my doctor told me that my adenoids contained a hollow or bowl of totally putrified tissue and that it was possible that this could have been causing the odor. It's too soon for me to be positive this is the explanation, but it was the first time a doctor had found something clearly wrong with my body that could be the cause, and it fits with other evidence. For one thing, when my mother recently told me she smelled the BO again, I had just been on a train trip during which I'd felt some solid lumps come into the back of my throat along with the usual mucus of postnasal drip. I couldn't spit them out, so I swallowed them. An hour later I was stinking from my whole body.
And not long after that (but before the adenoidectomy), I was eating some pumpkin seeds and suddenly had a horrible taste in my mouth. It was literally the worst thing I had ever tasted, and so strong that I couldn't get it out of my mouth even after brushing and flossing and using a tongue scraper. I though that either one of the seeds was incredibly rancid or some foreign object had gotten into the seeds, so I called up the store manager and told her there was something wrong with them. But now I hypothesize that a bit of muck had popped out of my adenoids and instead of swallowing it or spitting it out I chewed
it, thus experiencing the "smell" myself for the first time--nothing to do with the pumpkin seeds I happened to be eating. The flavor was slightly fishy, but more like WD-40, the oily, chemically hinge lubricant or rust cleaner or whatever it is. Very bad.
Again, I'm not positive yet that I've been cured, but I am optimistic. Now that I've tuned in to the sensations back there I know I have a bad case of postnasal drip. Maybe when I was sleep deprived all those years ago I picked up a virus that caused the drip and it just collected in those glands until they were diseased. Note that doctors always told me my nose, mouth, and throat looked completely normal when they examined me--only surgery revealed what was rotten. When my throat is completely healed from the last surgery I plan to start a regimen of steaming and irrigating my sinuses to try to lessen the drip. I also try to spit mucus out whenever I can instead of unconsciously swallowing it--luckily I work from home so that's not too awkward, although there's not much I can do when I'm asleep.
Anyway, I will post again if I gain any more insight or evidence about my case.
As one of the earlier posters wrote, if something bizarre is going on, THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON. Either you ARE paranoid
, or there is something physically wrong. Hang in there, and hopefully you'll find a solution one day. Good luck to anyone who is dealing with this kind of problem--it's hard.