Monday, October 17, 2011

Medical Mondays: Fish Odor Syndrome


Hey! Welcome to Medical Mondays and I apologize for getting this post in super late.

So you know, a genetic defect can wreak all sorts of havoc on the human body. Every tiny little mechanism that keeps us functioning properly can be tampered with, so-to-speak, on a DNA level.

This interesting one is called Trimethylaminuria. In this rare disorder, people are unable to break down a certain compound in their diet. As a result, the molecule trimethylamine builds up and is released in the person's sweat, urine, and breath.

And--you guessed it--trimethylamine smells like fish. (I know, I know. My cartoon is inaccurate. Sufferers don't LOOK like fish. Call it artistic license, okay?)

There are treatments. Affected people have to avoid foods that cause buildup of this molecule, such as legumes, fish, and meat. And taking activated charcoal or chlorophyll might work.

Not all people with this disorder necessarily smell like fish. Some just have a strong body odor. But still. Why can't there be a genetic disorder where people smell strongly of, say, hyacinth? Or chocolate? Or, Chanel No. 5?

Well, maybe there are and I need to do more research. In any case, it does make you think about the literary possibilities...


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Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

66 comments:

Liza said...

Oh dear. Now being affected with trimethylamine would really be a problem. Yikes.

Michael Offutt said...

I don't think I'd like smelling like a fish all that much.

Deb Salisbury said...

> Why can't there be a genetic disorder where people smell strongly of, say, hyacinth? Or chocolate? Or, Chanel No. 5?

ROFL! Then it wouldn't be called a disorder, it would be called ... a beauty mark?

Emily Rose said...

Ooh, that would be a tough smell to live with. Smelling like Chanel No. 5 wouldn't be so bad though;)

mooderino said...

Now I just have to figure out how to use it in a story. "So the murderer wasn't a mermaid after all..."

mood

Moody Writing
@mooderino

Karen Lange said...

Yes, why not chocolate or Chanel No. 5? Go figure. Thanks for the info!

Jess said...

Well I would not like to have that disorder... But if it was CHOCOLATE... that's a different story!

Kelly Polark said...

Oh, man. That would be awful!
Interesting info on a unique disorder!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

This gives me brilliant ideas. My alien might have an alien disorder that causes him to smell like something totally random and unpleasant and all the other aliens avoid him. Poor alien!

Shelley Munro said...

I always enjoy your medical posts because my mind starts turning corners and thinking "what if"
I feel for those who suffer from this. no one wants to smell like a fish! Chocolate - maybe, but not fish!

Bathwater said...

I had an old boos who certainly smelled like he had this. I wonder if that was his problem all along.

julie fedderson said...

Dude, when I saw the title of this post I was totally thinking of some other fishy medical type odor obtained via KOH prep. Boards on the brain.

Wine and Words said...

I'm so gullible. I totally bought into it!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing. That would be a weird disorder to have.

shelly said...

Very cool post!

Miranda Hardy said...

Amazing. I hope people don't judge the smelly. Sometimes, they may not be able to help it.

LTM said...

oh, Lydia! How awful!!! *snort* I'm sorry... :D BAH!!!

Old Kitty said...

Such a long word for this illness!! I'm also most intrigued by the remedies, specifically "activated charcoal". Yikes!!

Thanks, Lydia!! Take care
x

Krispy said...

Super weird and it makes me grateful I don't have it. I think the fish in your doodle is adorable, btw. :D

Jennifer Hillier said...

Ewwww! How unfortunate! Imagine trying to explain to someone, "I smell like fish because I have a genetic disorder, I swear!" Nobody would believe you!

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm glad I don't have that genetic disorder. :P

Carrie Butler said...

Hah! Oh, Lydia, that cartoon made my day. :D

Elle Strauss said...

Why can't we smell like chocolate???

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That one is new!
And Lydia - you went over a thousand followers as well. Congratulations! We can both celebrate.

Olga said...

This is an astounding phenomenon. I think our bodies are really full of surprises :)

Munk said...

I smell of elderberry wine.
What do you smell of?

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Isn't there another ailment where you smell like smoke -- another compound not being able to be broken down by the body? Always an interesting post with you, Lydia.

I want both our books to come up smelling like success! Roland

vbtremper said...

Wow, that would suck. I would hate to give up legumes, fish, and meat. Not many protein-rich choices left.

-Vicki

Emy Shin said...

Why can't there be a genetic disorder where people smell strongly of, say, hyacinth?

Everybody would clamor to get this awesome disorder. :D

Alleged Author said...

Ohhhh! How unfortunate for people who suffer from that disorder!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Well, who knew??? That's a bizarre disorder, and I can see it showing up in a few books in the future! :)

Brenda McKenna said...

Poor sufferers of trimethylaminuria. Also, your blog is hilarious and I like it!

L.C. Frost said...

I approve of your artistic license. :-) Interesting post--never heard of this ailment!

BECKY said...

Lydia, I just love your blog! And the things we learn...wow! I feel very sorry for anyone afflicted with THAT syndrome. I'm with you....why not a chocolate aroma??

Little Ms. Fun said...

That's crazy!! Omg, I feel so bad for those people. Imagine going through life smelling like a trout?? Oh god, it's not even funny!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'd like to smell like vanilla, please! ;) Actually, I used to dab a bit of pure vanilla on cuz I love it so.

LynNerd said...

Hi Lydia,

I forget what TV show had a character who had this condition. Good to know that there's something they can do to fight it! I love the name of your blog, and I love your Medical Mondays!

Carol Riggs said...

Oh my gosh! That is so freakily weird. I'd hate to have that. I'd love to have one that would make me smell lightly of lilacs. Ahhh!

Linda Gray said...

This is a tough one. The sense of smell is so primal--we remember times and people in our lives by scents, and react so strongly! Not sure I could use this in my writing, just out of respect for real-life sufferers. Glad to know there are treatments, though!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

I smell like boys. having had so many of them!

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. I've never heard of that one before! Interesting ...

Em said...

You come up with the most interesting posts. Fascinating.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lydia .. fascinating information - and I rather hope I don't meet one, get caught in a lift with one, or a plane, or train, or the tube ..

Poor people I guess .. but a gentle whiff of hyacinth would be rather good to 'own' (though I suppose as a kid I'd hate it, and as an 'ancient' it'd be wearing thin!)... Cheers Hilary

salarsenッ said...

Very interesting, but I'm sure it must be hard to live with. As always, you are informative. :)

Slamdunk said...

This would not be good for a robber or burglar--talk about a unique MO.

Susan Fields said...

That's so interesting! I like the idea of smelling like chocolate (or Chanel No. 5). :)

Tamara Narayan said...

I saw a TV show about someone with this disorder. They actually removed her sweat glands before a proper diagnosis was made--yikes!

BTW, I read Speak and was blown away. Thanks for the YA recommendations!

Rachna Chhabria said...

A weird problem to have. Feel bad for people afflicted with Trimethylaminuria.

Connie Keller said...

Smelling like Chanel No 5 would be great, unless you were a man. I wouldn't like my husband to smell like perfume...but it would be better than smelling like fish.

Southpaw said...

I adore your cartoon!

Tracy Jo said...

It is amazing to me all the little things that can go wrong in a human body! Love the cartoon. :-)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I love your cartoon. What an unfortunate disorder!

Jayne said...

Funny and weird. Eeeew.

I'd much rather smell like lavender. Would help me sleep better too. ;)

Laila Knight said...

If you do find a dissorder that'll make me smell like Chanel no 5, please do tell. :) And Eeeww.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh my. Sorry, that's all I seem to be able to say - OH MY!

Nancy said...

Great cartoon and information. Thanks for sharing it.

Suze said...

Love the cartoon.

Jackee said...

LOL! I love the cartoon. :o)

As a person with a highly developed sense of smell, I feel so bad for these people! It's got to ruin their social lives--good thing there's a treatment. :o)

Have a great night, Lydia!

Crystal Pistol said...

You ARE a clever one, aren't you? I really enjoyed your post. I have decided to become a follower. Can't wait5 to see what else you come up with!

chibiwow said...

Haha... how I wish I could strongly smell of strawberries. That was really fun post! Bookmarked! :D
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Wendy G. Ewurum: Blog Author said...

There was once a guy who asked me out and smelled like ear puss. I shudder just thinking about it. I don't know if it was a defect or disease, it smelt more like the latter to me....
and he was a stalker...could it get any worse?

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Oh, that's just sad. I would die. Or eat LOTS of charcoal. Smelling of Chanel No. 5 would be fine with me, though.

J.L. Campbell said...

Didn't even know this condition existed. The things we suffer!

Mommy2¢ said...

Very interesting! My son has a syndrome that is very rare (1 in 85,000 MALE births) but thank God it doesn't make him smell fishy!

Mrs. Silverstein said...

This is such a great feature!

Stop by this post if you like--I've tagged you for a blog award! http://readingontheftrain.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-was-i-just-saying-about-this.html

Matthew MacNish said...

Fascinating! And come to think of it, I just thought he never showered.

 
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