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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1990 Mar;116(3):354-5.

Fish-odor syndrome presenting as dysosmia.

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Department of Otolaryngology, State University of New York, Syracuse 13210.


We describe a patient who had perceived an unpleasant odor or taste for at least 20 years. Several other physicians had unsuccessfully treated her for infections, mucus membrane dryness and inflammation, chronic tonsillitis, and psychiatric disorders. Her workup at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse Olfactory Referral Center included a thorough history, examinations (including endoscopic studies of her nose, pharynx, and lungs), roentgenograms, taste testing, olfactory testing, and selective anesthesia of her chemosensory areas. The perception occurred only during exhalation, and appeared to be binasal. These findings, together with her morning mucus sample having a strong fishlike odor, prompted us to suspect a metabolic problem. Further testing at the Monell-Jefferson Chemosensory Clinical Research Center, Philadelphia, Pa, confirmed that she had trimethylaminuria. It is important to consider this and other treatable conditions when evaluating individuals with olfactory complaints.

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