Ammonia odor caused by common stomach bacteria

Until recently, doctors couldn't explain why some people smell like ammonia when they exercise. A report from Japan tells us why.

To smell like ammonia, you have to eat a lot of protein or be infected with a germ called helicobacter. Many weightlifters eat tremendous amounts of protein because they mistakenly think that it will make them stronger. The food you eat contains carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Of the three, only protein contains nitrogen. The body has no way to store extra protein, so when you take in more protein than your body needs, your liver knocks nitrogen off the protein and the nitrogen is eventually converted to ammonia and passes through the sweat glands and kidneys.

Some people smell like ammonia when they do not take in large amounts of protein. An article in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showed that many people who smell like ammonia are infected with helicobacter, a bacteria that knocks nitrogen off protein also. When helicobacter grows in your stomach and intestines, it causes ulcer symptoms characterized by belching, burping, a sour taste in your mouth and a burning pain that often become more severe when you are hungry and better when you eat. More than 80 percent of people who have duodenal ulcers are infected with this bacteria. If your sweat smells like ammonia, ask your doctor to do a blood test for helicobacter. If you are infected, you can be cured with a one week course of antibiotics. Check with your doctor. More on helicobacter; journal references


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