It’s hard to be different, especially when it’s something you can’t help. One woman knows this all too well. Camille has been suffering from fish odor syndrome or FOS for years. She first noticed it as a child, and it has followed her into adulthood.
As a child, she was constantly teased and bullied because of it and even as an adult.
Things didn’t get any better. She said that kids weren’t the only ones who were cruel to her because of her FOS. Adults didn’t seem to understand the reason for it, either, and just thought she wasn’t bathing or taking care of herself.
“One of my teachers asked me if I was showering every day. From that point on, she kind of sat me in the corner of the classroom. Kids would call me a freak. They would tell me I smelled like horse manure and dead fish.”
As she got older, people continued to treat her badly.
Still, she made it through college and became a teacher. Things were just as bad as always in the classroom. Her students constantly made fun of her and left her feeling horrible about herself. She said:
“They would say things like, ‘Ew, this classroom stinks like dead fish.’ They would call me ‘Miss Fishy.’ I would cry all the way home from school. All the time.”
One day, she decided to research the problem and found out that she has a genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria.
Her body does not get rid of a certain chemical, and it causes her to secrete it instead, which creates the bad smell. She finally had an answer to her problems.
According to Medicine Net:
“Fish odor syndrome (trimethylaminuria) is a genetic disease; symptoms are often present from birth. Fish odor syndrome is characterized by an offensive body odor and the smell of rotting fish due to the excessive excretion of trimethylaminuria (TMA) in the urine, sweat, and breath of affected individuals. Fish odor syndrome is caused by mutations in the FMO3 gene. Other causes of odor body can occur as a result from an excess of proteins in the diet or from an increase in bacteria that normally produce trimethylamine in the GI tract (also may make fish odor syndrome worse); liver disease, kidney disease, poor hygiene, gingivitis, and cases of blood-borne halitosis. Diagnostic tests that help differentiate fish odor syndrome (trimethylaminuria) from other causes of body odor are available at specialized laboratories. “
Camille isn’t the only person who suffers from this disease.
Another woman named Ellie also has it. Hers didn’t start or become noticeable until she was in her 30s. She said people started to tease her and treat her badly. It made her life unbearable, and she was mortified by it. She explained:
“At first I didn’t understand what was wrong. I’d always had impeccable hygiene. The smell was a complete mystery – I wondered if my cat had brought in a mouse and left it to rot. But I slowly realized it was me when strangers began to stare at me while holding their noses. I heard people whispering about me in the office. I would come home from work every night and cry. Soon people were showering me with gifts of perfume. At Christmas I’d get soap – it was completely humiliating.”
She went to the doctor, but at first, she wasn’t taken seriously.
Her doctor told her to try to shower more often and lectured her on hygiene. She decided to see a different doctor a year later and finally got a diagnosis. She hasn’t been able to get rid of the smell, but she has found ways to help make it less noticeable. She said:
“Now, when someone holds their nose, I take them aside and explain that I have a medical condition. I hope my story will help educate those who point fingers and encourage other sufferers to find the strength to get help.”
As for Camille, she found a support group and has started using probiotics and eating a specific diet that has helped her get some relief.
Both women hope that people will understand their disease and will stop accusing them of having poor hygiene and teasing them.
Watch her story below.
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