Fetor Hepaticus: The Breath of the Dead
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about this smell.
What is fetor hepaticus?
Fetor hepaticus is a liver dysfunction which causes strong, musty smell during breathing. It indicates that your liver is not doing its usual job of filtering out toxic substances.
The root cause is a serious liver disease. As a result of the liver lapse in filtering out toxic substances, sulfur substances end up in your bloodstream. These substances can make their way to your lungs. Such that when you exhale, these substances give your breath a distinct smell.
Fetor hepaticus is also referred to as “breath of the dead.” This is a very obscene connotation of this abnormally. It is often referred to as “the breath of the dead” or “breath of the dead hepatic encephalopathy” because of its fatal nature. Diseases in the liver are very fatal.
What are the symptoms?
Patients with this condition have breath that smells like a mixture of rotten egg and garlic. There are however some people who describe this smell as a slightly sweet smell.
Other symptoms of fetor hepaticus include:
#1. confusion and disorientation
#2. bleeding easily
#3. yellow skin
#4. swollen legs
#5. abdominal swelling
What are the causes of fetor hepaticus?
Fetor hepaticus is connected with acute liver disease. This liver disease causes scarring and poor functioning of your liver. This can cause portal hypertension. Portal hypertension refers to increased blood pressure in the veins of your liver. Portal hypertension makes it difficult for blood to flow through your liver. This causes the blood to get backed up in the veins surrounding your liver.
When blood doesn’t pass easily through your liver, the toxic substances that would usually be filtered out by your liver make their way to other parts of your body, including your lungs. When this happens, you might smell traces of these substances when you exhale.
The substance that is responsible for this foul smell experience by people with fetor hepaticus is Dimethylsulfide.
How is fetor hepaticus diagnosed?
Patients who have previously been diagnosed with liver disease, such as chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, can (without any further testing) be diagnosed for fetor hepaticus.
Patients having symptoms its but haven’t been diagnosed with liver disease by the doctor may have to provide additional details to the doctor for proper diagnosis. The doctor will probably start by asking some questions about your medical history and lifestyle habits. They may also order a blood test to check your liver function.
Where your doctor suspects you have portal hypertension, they may use an ultrasound or CT scan to get a better look at the veins around your liver and check for portal hypertension.
A liver biopsy may also be performed by your doctor.Liver biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample from your liver and looking at it under a microscope. A liver biopsy allows your doctor to check for signs of liver disease or evaluate how well a particular treatment is working.
How is fetor hepaticus treated?
To get rid of this condition caused by liver disease, you have to first treat the root liver disease. The smell of death is a symptom of liver disease. It is not a disease in itself.
To lessen the height of the liver disease, you have to watch some of your daily or lifestyle habits. Slowing the progression of liver damage and manage complications is crucial to treatment.
Some of the lifestyle habits to imbibe for the treatment of fetor hepaticus include;
#1. avoiding alcohol
#2. eating less salt
#3. getting regular exercise
You should work with your doctor to figure out which treatment options would work best based on the stage of your liver disease and overall health status.
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Outlook for people with fetor hepaticus
Fetor hepaticus is a sign of advanced liver disease. While it’s likely too late to reverse the damage to your liver, certain medications and lifestyle changes can help to ease the symptoms and slow additional damage. If you have symptoms of fetor hepaticus, try to see your doctor as soon as possible so you can start coming up with a plan to manage your liver disease.