Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, March 22, 2010 kelli, Community Member, asks

Q: maple syrup odor?

My boyfriend all the sudden started smelling very strongly of maple syrup. He also is increasingly tired and irritable. Any thoughts?

Answer This
Answers (3)
Cindy L., Community Member
5/ 3/10 7:53pm

I just recently joined this site, or I would have answered your question sooner. I'm assuming your boyfriend is diabetic. If so, does he take his meds. as he should? Does he follow his diet, drink alcohol or take illegal drugs?If he hasn't been doing what he should, or has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, that can all lead to high blood sugars and ketones. I hope he's feeling better now, but if he's still smelling of maple syrup, he should see a doctor as soon as possible. A fruity, or sweet smell to the breath, or body can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis. It happens when the blood sugar is high, a person becomes dehydrated and the body is losing glucose through the urine. Glucose provides the body with fuel and when the body is losing it's fuel, it starts to burn it's own muscle and fat for energy. The by-product of that is ketones. Ketoacidosis can be very serious and the other symptoms of it are frequent thirst, increased urination, fatigue, weakness, nausea and vomiting. The face can also be flushed.

Cindy L., Community Member
5/ 4/10 12:06pm

I'm sorry. I thought of a few other symptoms of ketoacidosis after I had posted the answer to your question above. I know my answers are usually very long, but I try to give as much info. as I can, thinking the more a person knows, the better. Abdominal pain is also a common symptom of ketoacidosis. The muscles of the belly may feel sore, or even be down-right painful. The person may also have heavy, or labored breathing and seem agitated, irritable, or confused. I also didn't mention that ketoacidosis can lead to unconsciousness, or coma. It is something that definitely requires medical help. I doubt a diabetic could have ketoacidosis for days and get better without seeking medical help. An experienced diabetic, that does as he/she should, should be able to prevent ketoacidosis by frequent testing and bringing high blood sugar down. If the person takes insulin, they have to know how to adjust it though. 

dawn, Community Member
1/24/11 3:42pm

Research on Maple Syrup Urine Disease and see what you come up with. My son has had a maple syrup odor frequently for the past two years and now I am going to have some bloodwork done on him with the doctor, to rule out this disease hopefully.

Amy Tudor, Editor
7/15/14 12:00pm

Hi there, Kelli -


Dawn is right that there is a disease called Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) that can cause people's urine (and bodies) to have a burnt sugar smell that's similar to maple syrup. It is one of many metabolic disorders that people can have, but it is a rather rare, inherited disease. A sweet breath odor can also be a sign of diabetes in adults whose blood sugar is out of control. A doctor is the best person to assess what's causing the condition.


I hope you've found the cause by now. In the meantime, here are some links that you might find useful:


Diabetes Diagnosis Advice

Diabetes Diagnosis and the Perceived Loss of Normalcy


Best of luck to you both!


Answer This

We hope you find this general health information helpful. Please note however, that this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. No information in the Answers above is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The views expressed in the Answers above belong to the individuals who posted them and do not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media. Remedy Health Media does not review or edit content posted by our community members, but reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate.

By kelli, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/20/14, First Published: 03/22/10