You Can Smell When Someone’s Sick—Here’s How

The curious case of a woman who can smell Parkinson’s reminds us our noses are our first defense against illness.

Joy Milne (right) was able to correctly identify people with Parkinson’s disease based solely on their smell.

I’m sick, and I don’t smell right. I don’t mean that my nose isn’t working—though this cold has me stuffed up. Instead, my own body odor seems somehow different, sour and unfamiliar.

I’m far from the first person to notice this nasty side effect. Scientists have found that dozens of illnesses have a particular smell: Diabetes can make your urine smell like rotten apples, and typhoid turns body odor into the smell of baked bread.

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