Two smells emitted by ‘breath’ or ‘urine’ could be hinting at fatty liver – ‘not pleasant’

Most people have some fat in their liver, but if concentrations exceed five percent this means they have fatty liver disease. At this volume, the liver will suffer disruptions to its normal functioning due to circulation dying off. Signs that the liver is under threat may emerge in the smell of breath and urine.

Fatty liver disease is among the infamous “silent” medical conditions that are void of symptoms in the initial stages.

The progression of liver disease is harder to ignore, however, as serious liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver failure produce unpleasant symptoms.

Foetor hepatica is a well-established feature of severe liver disease that causes a sweet and musty smell both on the breath and in urine.

WebMD explains: “Foetor hepatica is a distinctive breath odour that people with liver disease can have.

READ MORE: Asthenia is a sign of severe stage of fatty liver disease

“It is not pleasant. People describe it as smelling like a mixture of rotten eggs and garlic. But it is not related to hygiene or dental health.”

In other words, brushing teeth can not help resolve the issue, so further medical intervention will be warranted to treat the underlying cause.

The smell is caused by the excretion of dimethyl disulfide and methyl mercaptan, arising from an excess of methionine.

This leads sulphur substances to build up in the bloodstream and make their way to the lungs, before being exhaled.


Researchers believe that these chemicals are the primary odour-producing component of foetor hepaticas.

Getting these unusual body smells probed by a doctor is important so the liver is treated appropriately before scarring becomes irreversible.

Though there is no cure for cirrhosis, there are ways to manage symptoms and slow its progression.

In severe liver disease, the organ struggles to carry out any of its normal functions because of scarring.

READ MORE: Man receives fatty liver diagnosis after rash spreads across body

This means it will have trouble filtering out toxic substances, which may cause significant collateral damage to other organs.

Medline Plus points out: “Most changes in urine odour are not a sign of disease and go away in time.

“Some foods and medicines, including vitamins, may affect your urines’ odour. For example, eating asparagus causes a distinct urine odour.”

The health body continues: “Foul-smelling urine may be due to bacteria. Sweet-smelling urine may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes or a rare disease of metabolism.”

The Liver Medic lists the following symptoms of advanced liver disease:

  • Baby body odour
  • Coated tongue
  • Dark urine colour
  • Pale stool colour.

It should be noted, however, that a great number of people who have fatty liver do not experience sickness.

The most natural cause for a fatty build-up in the liver is an excess intake of calories, which can easily be avoided. Drinking coffee, and getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, can also help abate complications in the liver.

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