December 01, 2022

How Body Odor Can Indicate Health Changes

woman putting on deodorant to cover body odor

Everyone sweats. Some more, some less, but sweating is essential for proper body temperature regulation. 

As we all know, perspiration has an odor. Here again, there’s significant variability from one person to another. Some people have a very mild body odor, while others have a strong scent. 

Generally speaking, your body odor isn’t anything to be concerned about from a medical perspective. And if you want to reduce it, regular washing and using deodorant or antiperspirant can help. 

However, a significant difference in your “baseline” body odor can indicate a change in your health. 

Why Does My Sweat Smell So Bad?

Several factors can cause a noticeable change in your body odor. They include:

Dietary changes

If you’ve ever noticed your urine smelling different after eating certain foods, you understand how what you eat affects the odors you produce. Scents can also be released by your pores. 

For example, onions and garlic contain sulfur-like compounds. When your body breaks these foods down during digestion, it frees those compounds to be released through your pores. 

So, if you’ve recently increased the amount of odor-causing foods you consume, you may notice a difference in your body odor. This includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). 

Certain medical conditions

Some medical conditions can cause a change in body odor, including:

If you eliminate other possible causes, you should contact your doctor. They can determine if your stronger body odor is related to an illness that should be treated. 

Hormonal changes

Changes in hormone levels can cause a difference in your body odor. Some women experience this when they enter menopause

Lifestyle changes

If you start an exercise program and work out more than previously, you may notice your body odor becoming stronger. Gaining significant weight can also cause a more noticeable body odor. 

Other factors like stress or anxiety and hot, humid weather can cause you to sweat more or cause your sweat to evaporate more slowly, resulting in a stronger body odor. 

Hyperhidrosis and Body Odor

Some people are diagnosed with a condition called hyperhidrosis, where they sweat more than average. Primary hyperhidrosis is rare and has no known cause. Secondary hyperhidrosis results from a health change or problem, such as starting menopause or having an infection. Certain medications can also cause secondary hyperhidrosis. 

If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, your doctor can help. Treatments like prescription antiperspirants can reduce the amount of sweat you release. 

Talk with Your Doctor About Body Odor Changes

Some people find it uncomfortable to talk with their doctor about their body odor. However, you shouldn’t. 

Your doctor understands that body odor issues can be embarrassing and can work with you to find the right solution. If your change in body odor is related to a medical condition, it’s crucial to get a diagnosis and treatment. 

Talk with your Baptist Health primary care doctor to learn more about body odor changes. If you don’t yet have a provider, you can find one using our online directory

Learn More.