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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Can Fish-Odor Syndrome Go Away on its Own?

11/05/2010

Question:

I think I may have fishes syndrome due to stress. What can I do to stop it?

Answer:

I think you are referring to Fish-odor syndrome (also called trimethylaminuria) which is an inherited metabolic syndrome. There are chemicals called TMA (amino-trimethylamine) that are found in some foods such as egg yolks, liver, kidney, peas and salt-water fish that are normally metabolized during digestion by another enzyme called FMO2 (flavin-containing monoxygenas). The FMO2 helps breakdown the TMA into a form that does not have any odor.

In Fish-odor syndrome, this enzyme does not work properly, so that the odor being formed from these chemicals during digestion does not become odorless. The chemicals are then gotten rid of by the body through the person's breath, urine, sweat and saliva, which then causes the person to smell fishy.

Treatment usually involves changes in diet and sometimes certain medications. You need to talk to your doctor about this problem so that the right diagnosis can be made. Then your doctor can discuss the right treatment for you.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University