Fish odor syndrome or trimethylaminuria is a rare disease that causes an unpleasant odor similar to fish odor to emanate from the body or mouth. This disease has no other symptoms; But the stench can lead to social isolation or depression. In some cases, the defective gene is inherited from the parents, but this is not always the case. If you are interested in learning more about fish odor syndrome and its cause and treatment methods, follow us to the end of this article.
What is fish odor syndrome?
Trimethylamine is a foul-smelling chemical produced by intestinal bacteria by breaking down certain foods. In fish odor syndrome, the body does not have the ability to convert the odorous chemical trimethylamine into a odorless chemical. As a result, trimethylamine accumulates in the body and enters body fluids such as sweat.
How is trimethylaminuria inherited?
Many people with fish odor syndrome inherit a defective gene from their parents for diseases called flavonoid monooxygenase-3, or FMO3 for short. As a result, they have two defective genes. In fact, each parent has an autosomal recessive copy of the defective gene and carries the disease. For this reason, they usually do not have symptoms of the disease or their symptoms are mild and temporary.
Researchers believe that different types of FMA3 gene mutations affect the severity of symptoms. Some people may have secondary fish odor syndrome due to high doses of trimethylamine or products that trigger trimethylamine production. In this case, the FMA3 enzyme cannot break down the excess amount of trimethylamine.
Symptoms of fish odor syndrome
Symptoms of fish odor syndrome may be present from birth; But it does not appear until later years and until puberty. The only symptom of this disease is an unpleasant odor similar to rotten fish, which can be compared to other things and usually affects the following:
- Reproductive secretions.
This odor is sometimes continuous and sometimes intermittent. The following can make the odor worse:
- Special foods such as fish, eggs and beans.
Fish odor syndrome is more common in women than men. The main reason for this is not clear. However, the presence of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone in women may cause this to happen. Women may have more severe symptoms in the following conditions:
- Around menstruation;
- During menstruation;
- Just before menstruation;
- After taking birth control pills.
Who should see a specialist?
People who do not have a strong pungent odor should see a doctor. Your doctor may check for common symptoms such as body odor, gum disease, urinary tract infection or vaginal bacteria. If you suspect trimethylaminuria, tell your doctor to refer you to a specialist if necessary. The disease is diagnosed by genetic tests by examining the symptoms, clinical examinations, assessing urinary trimethylamine levels, and examining mutations in the FM13 gene.
The following people can help you with fish odor syndrome:
- Psychologist / Psychiatrist;
- Medical geneticist.
Treatment of fish odor syndrome
There is currently no cure for trimethylaminuria, and treatment is based on managing and reducing the symptoms of the disease. However, doing some things will reduce the symptoms.
1. Diet abstinence
You can avoid foods that intensify the smell. These foods include the following:
- cow milk;
- Soy products;
- Some vegetables;
- Seafood (freshwater fish is good);
- Lecithin supplements such as fish oil supplements.
It is not a good idea to make big changes to your diet yourself; Especially if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding. You can see a nutritionist. Your doctor will prescribe a diet for you to get the nutrients you need.
2. Lifestyle to reduce the symptoms of fishy odor syndrome
The following can be helpful:
- Use antiperspirant;
- Wash your clothes regularly;
- Learn relaxation techniques. Stress makes your symptoms worse;
- Avoid strenuous exercise. Do gentle exercises that do not cause excessive sweating;
- Wash your skin with a slightly acidic soap and shampoo. Therefore, products with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 are good choices.
3. Medical treatments
Your doctor may suggest the following:
- Prescribing a short course of antibiotics that can reduce the production of trimethylamine in the gut;
- Use of molasses to keep food in the gastrointestinal tract for a shorter time and can reduce the amount of trimethylamine produced in the gut.
- Prescribing special supplements such as activated charcoal Or Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) that can reduce the amount of trimethylamine in the urine:
- 750 mg of activated charcoal twice a day for 10 days;
- 60 mg of chlorophyllin copper after meals, 3 times a day for 3 weeks;
- Riboflavin helps increase the function of the FMA enzyme in the body; 30 to 40 mg of riboflavin 3 to 5 times daily with food.
4. Use of support groups
Many people live with fish odor syndrome problems. Although the disease has only one symptom, isolation, embarrassment and depression are common consequences. Consult a doctor if you want to cope with this disease. Your doctor may refer you to a counselor.
Summary of important points
Fish odor syndrome is a rare condition in which excess trimethylamine accumulates in the body. This excess trimethylamine is excreted through sweat, urine, breath and reproductive fluids, causing the fish to smell bad.
Many people with trimethylaminuria, especially those with mild type, can reduce the odor with proper diet and lifestyle changes. This disease does not cause any other health problems. However, it may lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, or other psychological problems.
Given the points made in this article, has the smell of sweat or breath ever been so strange to you that you thought you should see a doctor for it? Ever heard of fish odor syndrome? How new and useful was the content of this article for you?
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