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eatmunky's avatar

I have a co-worker that smells vivdly of very sour milk. What could cause this?

Asked by eatmunky (358 points ) December 11th, 2008

Luckily he sits on the other side of the office. But we had a movie night last night and he walked in and sat right next to me. Immediately, it smelled so strongly of sour milk, I can’t even describe how disgusting it was. I’d heard people complain about his odor before, but never experienced it myself. I had to leave.

Now I can’t miss it. Every time I walk near his section of the office, I literally feel sick to my stomach. I don’t know how people work near him. Apparently HR has received several complaints, and plan on doing something about it soon.

I figure it has to be a disorder or something, or the WORST hygiene possible. Does anyone have any idea what would make a person smell like very sour milk?

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22 Answers

scamp's avatar

He may have a medical condition called trimethylaminuria, or something similar to that. I guess your best bet is to let HR handle it because they will know how to approach him in the right way. If it’s a hygiene problem, it can be solved with a little tact and some soap and water. If it’s caused by a medical condition, you will probably have to stock up on some air fresheners! Good luck with this.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Since it’s ongoing, my advice will be of no help, but I’m saying it anyway. Hair can sour. In the right heat, if it doesn’t dry fast enough, it can sour. My hair did once and it was the most disgusting thing. Ever.

Megan64's avatar

Maybe he’s a new dad. My husband used to end up at the grocery store with a nice (unbeknownst to him) trail of baby spit-up down his back.

eatmunky's avatar

@scamp- that could be it… but it’s definitely more of a rotting dairy smell than a fish smell.. but that article said it can vary. And I wasn’t planning on approaching him about it, I agree HR would be much better suited to talk to him, but I just can’t help but be curious what it could be.

@Empress- that’s entirely possible. hm…

@Megan- haha thats pretty funny. Must have been a little embarassing. But I doubt this guy’s a new dad, he’s in his late 60s…

Mizuki's avatar

I suggest a colonic irrigation….

bythebay's avatar

It could also be the smell of his clothing. When wet laundry sits in the washer too long (in a warm enviroment), it’s starts to smell horribly. Sometimes even another run through the washer doesn’t completely remove the smell. It is a terribly sour smell. This doesn’t help your problem at all though.

eatmunky's avatar

I thought of making a spray bottle filled with a mix of bleach and febreeze. Then discreetly spraying him when he’s working with headphones on or something. not really. he’d probably kill me.

delirium's avatar

bythebay: Mildew smells very different from spoiled milk, though.

judochop's avatar

WOW! I am sorry you have to work closely with someone who smells. It is the worst! I used to wrestle with a guy who had the worst BO ever. There were times that we would be on the mat and I would just want to throw up. It is a medical condition and most likely he knows (nose, haha) about it. I imagine that it is extremely embarrassing for him but what are you too? You have to work right? Not all of us can be like Paris Hilton and thank God for that. Maybe for Christmas you could get your coworkers together and you all could go in on a SPA package for him. A nice hot mineral bath, massage with oils and such. That may help mask the smell for a minute or so. Other than that, try lighting a strongly scented candle and if complains throw it at him while it’s lit.

scamp's avatar

@eatmunky diabetics can also have bodily odor and bad breath, but I’m not sure if it would smell like milk. I know your pain tho, because we have a few “stinkers” in our office at times. I have 5 scented candles at the ready for when they come through!!

scamp's avatar

I found some more info for you.

eatmunky's avatar

@scamp- I think that may have solved it… It says people who eat excessive amounts of dairy can start to smell sweet or sour. Hmm…..

Kinda weird tho cuz I have like 2 glasses of skim milk a day. at least. and I don’t smell like that… (ive asked to make sure)

scamp's avatar

I don’t think you have to worry about it. Two glasses probably isn’t what they mean by excessive.

eatmunky's avatar

jeez. excessive must be really… excessive.

scamp's avatar

Actually, if you go by this chart you are getting just the right amount! Adults should get two servings a day, so you’re good.

eatmunky's avatar

haha awesome! One less thing to worry about.

scamp's avatar

So you won’t smell bad, and you will have healthy bones, ha ha!!

Mizuki's avatar

Asians comment about American’s smelling like this, since we hardly eat any dairy. Dairy eaters do have a particular odor….

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I remember reading years & years ago in the paper an article about a man who had this bad body odor. He couldn’t figure out what the problem was. He was so aware of it that he took like two baths a day & still couldn’t get rid of the smell. Finally, he went to his doctor. He told the man to take all his clothes off & lay down on the examining table. The doctor literally started smelling the man, trying to determine what was causing this. Finally, he found it. The man was wearing an ornate, filigree ring that he never took off. Over the years, it had collected dirt, soap, grease, & God knows what else in it. He took the ring off, got it cleaned & that was the end of it.

omarfidel's avatar

TMAU is a possibility but so is anyone with liver disease, gallbladder problems, immune system problems, bad digestive problems, bacterial infections, certain ulcers,
food allergies/sensitivities, milk/lactose intolerance, high protein diets, NIGHTSHADE allergy/sensitivity bowels/constipation…

Those are the main ones… i smell like spoiled milk when i took certain antibiotics, when i ate milk products, when i ate anything with high levels of gluten,
i have a VERY “iffy” liver.. too..

When i was in the hospital in a coma, i nearly got nurses fired because the doctors were so overwhelmed with my STINK….

My parents used to look in my room for DEAD animals, rotten food, food containers… because thats what it smelled like…

I have SOOO many triggers to make these odors i have to just accept it.

I have lost relationships over it, AND i got my OWN ROOM in college because of it..

I was REQUIRED to wash my linens EVERY DAY, i was REQUIRED to turn on an ozone machine, and use activated charcoal/ baking soda .. AND keep the window open several hours a day. MY BED WAS SEALED in an ALLERGY CASE…

omarfidel's avatar

Bad gallbladder can cause the putrification of all the consumed fats of the diet.

Putrified fats are a smell only exceded by rotting dead animals and corpses…

When my gallblader went bad MY OWN SMELL in the bathroom would make me ILL,
if i had any gas people cused me out…

ALL of the family pets would leave my general area when i came down with gallbladder problems…

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