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Ask Dr. Gott 3/27
Sneezes that smell a sign of poor health
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: As odd as this sounds, I promise this is not a joke. When my husband sneezes, the air he expels has an odor to it. I would associate it with the smell of marigolds or musty urine. We have noticed this over the course of the last month or so.
    I offer the following information in case it has any bearing (but we believe not).
    He has been diagnosed with colitis, but it is under fair control with diet. (He has been fairly closely following your no-flour, no-sugar diet.) He does not smoke anymore, having quit four years ago. He is a mild/moderate social drinker. His lymph nodes swell up on occasion, but I assume that is from fighting off infection. It does not seem to have any correlation with the smell. He also has heartburn and uses antacids a few times a week. He takes vitamin C regularly but no other multivitamin. We cannot think of any major dietary or lifestyle changes in the last month that might cause this bizarre occurrence.
    We wonder if ammonia-smelling sneezes have an obvious cause, and should they be something to be concerned about? Is this something you have ever heard of before?
    DEAR READER: Ammonia-smelling breath is a well-recognized consequence of diabetes, kidney disease and liver disorders. Don't ignore your husband's symptom. He needs to be checked. Although the ammonia odor may simply reflect inefficient digestion that is characteristic of colitis and other intestinal disorders, I worry that a more serious situation is developing. Get him to your family physician for testing, and let me know the outcome.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Living with Diabetes Mellitus" and "Kidney Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am over 60 years old. I have a history of average blood pressure (120/70). This past year or so, it has been 110 to 130 over 48 to 54. I am worried that the low diastolic number is a health concern. I had chemo treatments a few years ago and wonder if this is somehow related. An ultrasound showed no major problems.
    DEAR READER: A low diastolic blood pressure is of no concern unless you are experiencing lightheadedness or fainting. I doubt that your previous chemotherapy is playing a role. I recommend that you check with your doctor to make sure I am not missing something. He or she may want to monitor your blood pressure more closely.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Hypertension."
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