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From New Brunswick, Canada:

My son, age 33, was recently accused of drinking on the job because co-workers said they smelled alcohol on his breath. Although he drinks on occasion (maybe once a month), he swears he has never had a drink on the job.

While searching for a possible reason for 'breath' smell, I came across your site. After reading some of the articles, I've suggested he request a diabetes test from his doctor. His sister has noticed an odor from him in the past which she described as a 'fermented fruity smell'. Is it possible that he could be showing the symptoms of "ketone breath"?


Ketones on the breath cause a fruity odor on the breath. People with diabetes do have this smell when they are getting ill with their diabetes. In addition, people who don't have diabetes can have the same ketone smell on their breath when they are dehydrated or haven't been eating well (it's called starvation ketosis).


[Editor's comment: It's unlikely that your son would be walking and talking if he's got ketones on the breath from diabetes: the complication called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, confusion, very rapid deep breathing, and rapid deterioration to coma if untreated. WWQ]

Original posting 24 Aug 2000
Posted to Diagnosis and Symptoms


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:12
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