Fatty liver disease: Smell that? The smelly sign warning your liver is in trouble

Liver disease: Doctor discusses causes and symptoms

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One of the main functions of the liver is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. As well as this, the liver detoxifies chemicals and digests drugs the body ingests. The liver, as with all of our crucial organs, is one we should look after. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, people can still develop fatty liver disease. When this condition ensues, a foul-smelling breath may be present warning of your risk.  

Fetor hepaticus occurs when your breath has a strong, musty smell.

Experts warn it is a sign that your liver is having trouble doing its job of filtering out toxic substances, usually due to severe liver disease.

As a result, sulphur substances end up in your bloodstream and can make their way to your lungs.

Fetor hepaticus is associated with severe liver disease, which causes scarring and poor functioning of your liver. 

The condition is also referred to as the “breath of the dead”.

It is associated with severe liver disease, which causes scarring and poor functioning of your liver. 

In a study published in the National Library of Health, an analysis of breath odour compounds in liver patients was investigated.

Liver diseases can cause a sweet, musty aroma of the breath, called fetor hepaticus, began the study.

It added: “Even in a stage of cirrhosis, the disease can be asymptomatic for many years.

“Breath analysis might be helpful to detect occult liver pathology.”

The study specifically examined whether specific breath odour compounds can be found in liver patients, suffering from cirrhosis, which might be useful for diagnosis.

Fifty-two liver patients and 50 healthy volunteers were enrolled with an alveolar air being analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

The study’s results found that dimethyl sulphide, acetone, 2-butanone and 2-pentanone were increased in breath of liver patients, while indole and dimethyl selenide were decreased.

It concluded that fetor hepaticus is caused by dimethyl sulphide and to a lower extent by ketones in alveolar air.

“Breath analysis makes it possible to discriminate patients with breath malodour related to hepatic pathologies.”

Other signs of fatty liver disease include:

  • Abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen (belly).
  • Nausea, loss of appetite or weight loss.
  • Yellowish skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice).
  • Swollen abdomen and legs.
  • Extreme tiredness or mental confusion.
  • Weakness.

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