I smell feet
December 20, 2007 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I smell feet.

For the past 2 weeks, I smell a foot odor constantly. It feels a little dry and/or itchy underneath my cheekbones. Could this be the beginning of a sinus infection? But here are some complicating factors:

1. I don't feel sick - not one bit. No headache, and I wouldn't even describe the cheekbone feeling as "pressure." No body aches, fever, etc.
2. I have no mucus, and I'm not congested. I can breathe completely freely.
3. The feeling under my cheekbones is on both sides, so I don't think it's a tooth thing. Also, I just saw the dentist this week, and if I had teeth rotting to the point of giving off an odor, I think he would have noticed.
4. I've had this for 2 weeks, and nothing's changed. At some point, wouldn't I actually start to feel sick, or start expelling some mucus?

My husband tells me he doesn't smell anything and insists the smell is not emanating FROM me in anyway.

I've been irrigating my sinuses with a neti pot each morning. Anything else I can do? I've heard that the current thought on sinus infections is that for mild to moderate ones, antibiotics aren't necessary. This is a first for me. Have you ever smelled a foot smell like this before, and what was it?

I've seen this question , and I wouldn't characterize this smell as bleachy or like propane, and that poster definitely had some mucus going on, which seems to differentiate our problems.
posted by peep to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
PS. I just called about seeing my doctor. I can get in to see her in 10 days, or I can go to immediate care and be seen by a random doctor. This is not something I would do unless I was very ill.
posted by peep at 10:36 AM on December 20, 2007

OK--don't mean to freak you out--any chance you are pregnant? I am, and I can smell kitty litter everywhere. On my hands. On random things in my office that I know have never been within smelling distance of kitty litter. Why kitty litter? I don't know. We have a litter box at home, but it's very well insulated from most of the apartment. Maybe kitty litter just has a strong smell... like feet.

If you aren't feeling any sinus pressure I don't see how that could have anything to do with it. I think you will be fine for 10 days if you want to see your regular doctor.

Good luck--keep us updated!
posted by tk at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2007

My sister smells weird stuff all the time when she gets even mild sinus issues. Have you tried washing out your nasal passages? That usually works for her.
posted by foxydot at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2007

Nope, not pregnant. I am doing the neti pot with salt water.
posted by peep at 10:50 AM on December 20, 2007

I know you said you're not pregnant, but could it be hormonal? At certain points in my menstrual cycle, everything smells like mildew to me, but I'm the only one who can smell it. Then it goes away after a few days, only to return the following month.

Alternatively, is there a new product you've started using in your home or workplace? I once went through a period where my classroom smelled strongly like feet to me. It turned out to be the new type of whiteboard markers I was using.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Exceedingly unlikely, especially since you have other physical symptoms, but olfactory hallucinations are a symptom of certain seizure disorders and brain cancers. I smell cigarette smoke all the time, so I really feel for you. It can drive you crazy.
posted by Enroute at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2007

Have you horked up anything that could be tonsil stones? I find that they smell like feet sorta, and I can tell when I have one because I can smell/taste the feetness. (Too much info? Sorry!). If you think it's possible, I would keep doing the neti pot and also gargle with Listerine ... that is the one thing that really helps keep the tonsil stones at bay.
posted by tastybrains at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2007

A fungal infection can cause you to smell things, and the neti pot might not be doing you any favors if that's the case. I think pretty much all fungal concerns are considered systemic these days, and treated with oral medication. Hit urgent care if you're going to have to wait that long to see your regular doctor; in my one experience with this, after the weird smell started then there was itching and bouts of vertigo. Not fun.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:14 PM on December 20, 2007

I second tastybrains- sometimes when I get a footy taste or smell it's tonsilloliths. Look at your tonsils with a flashlight. If you see anything white poking out, tape a Q-tip to a pencil, and poke gently til it pops out. Grooosss. And fun.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:02 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh god, tonsilolliths. If you get one in your mouth, whatever you do don't squish it.

If you want to smell something truly foul, and I mean jerk-your-head-back-in-revulsion foul, squish it between your fingertips and smell.

I've had times when I can smell a really bad odour all the time and become convinced that I stink, only to discover that it was just my own nose interior that I could smell. Blow your nose a lot and wait, it may go away. Otherwise - see a doctor!
posted by tomble at 8:53 PM on December 20, 2007

I have a bacterial sinus infection at the moment, and I can't smell a damn thing - have totally lost of my sense of smell (sense of taste is another issue though... yuk.)

Judging by the way that I've felt over the last couple of weeks compared to the symptoms you list, I find it very unlikely that you have a sinus problem. Tonsiloliths seems like as a possibility, as do wisdom teeth (which you didn't mention), sometimes partially erupted wisdom teeth can be a bit stinky if the gum flaps around them take up a bacterial colony.
posted by bifter at 2:03 AM on December 21, 2007

some updates:

I'm a lifelong tonsilloliths-haver, so I'm quite familiar with them. I pop some out weekly or so. They smell more like ass to me, to be blunt. This is a different smell.

Last night I was utterly exhausted and slept for 9 hours. This morning the smell is still foot-like, but also a hint of bleach. To be more accurate, it's not the scent of bleach, but sort of how everything smells after you've been cleaning with bleach - like my sinuses have been "burned" by bleach. Still no mucus or congestion.

I feel decidedly worse today and I think I'm fighting off a sinus infection. I think a fungal infection is unlikely, as I have no other symptoms, no immune problems, and have taken antibiotics only a couple of times in the past 10 years, and none in the past year.

I'll update if I end up with a sinus infection!
posted by peep at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2007

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