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Answer to your Health Question

Question (12/09/2012):

Title: Formaldehyde breath.

You answered the question about urine smelling of this compound....

Is it the same answer for one's breath as well?

I have a friend who smells of formaldehyde and I was wondering if it could be caused from an illness, i.e. an organ not functioning or cancer (needless to say, it is very unpleasant to be in close quarters with her).

My mother smelled like this for a few months before she died at 92 - and I put it down to aging organs....however, my friend isn't anywhere close to mom's age

Just curious


Ketoacidosis is a pathological metabolic state marked by extreme and uncontrolled ketosis.

Ketosis is a state of elevated levels of ketone bodies in the body.

Some diets, particularly the Atkins diet, which focus on making proteins and fats a large part of a diet, can induce 'ketosis.'

Ketoacidosis is most common in untreated type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Ketoacidosis can be smelled on a person's breath.

Aldehydes are similar to ketones, but one of the R groups is replaced by a hydrogen atom giving a general formula of HRC=O.

Formaldehyde has a sharp, somewhat unpleasant odor.

Formaldehyde and ammonia are similar in their chemical makeup.

Ammonia does have a similar smell to formaldehyde.

Some of the possible common medical causes of Ammonia breath odor may include: Chronic renal failure and Helicobacter pylori gastritis

Diabetic people with ketoacidosis may have trouble regulating properly the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver.

Products that contain the functional ketone group are easily detected mostly through the breath.

It has a characteristic odor that has been described as somewhere between formaldehyde, acetone and a sweet almost alcoholic type of a smell.

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