Strange question, but I need to ask

  1. Can anyone identify pt problems/issues by smell? I am precepting right now; while assessing a pt yesterday my preceptor said "her sputum has that pseudomonas smell"...she smelled like gauze to me. Another time someone said "oh yeah...you can definately smell the Cdiff"...I couldn't differentiate that BM from any other. Today, I thought my pt who is NPO smelled like bananas. Just wondering if that smell is significant for anything??? Anyone care to share any other smells that relate to pt issues/problems?
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    Certain organisms cause certain odors. Once you know what c-diff stool smells like, you never forget it.
  4. by   greenjanell
    you never forget the smell of a GI bleed......

    bananas could be concidered a fruity smell, indicating very high glucose in the blood.
  5. by   EricJRN
    Bacterial vaginosis (aka BV or Gardnerella vaginalis) causes a distinct fishy odor. If you're in an outpatient FP or GYN clinic and you step into an exam room after an exam of one of these patients, it can make an impression.
  6. by   GatorRN
    A pt with a Yeast infection also has a distinct smell. It's a damp, almost musky smell. I can't really describe it well but once you identify it, you will recall it the next time you come across it.

    Yes, definately, you NEVER forget the smell of a GI Bleed.
  7. by   Justhere
    GI bleed is diffentially a distinct smell. Walked into my house a couple of weeks and smelt it. My 14 year old poodle, who was very well house trained, had done pooped all through the house. My weak stomach husband had to wait outside until I got it all cleaned up. I normally have a pretty strong stomach almost began pucking myself. So we put him up in his kennel for the night. My husband came in said "What got into him, is he sick?" I just looked at him and said "GI bleed". A hour later he was gone.
  8. by   Lisky90
    thank you for all of your input. I wonder if the banana smell was high blood sugar - that was the only pt yesterday that didn't have BSs needed. She is also on a vent and was receiving Ativan for rapid HR and RR...both s/s of ketoacidosis. Hmmmm....now I'm starting to wonder. I will be paying much more attention to what I smell...thank you all so much.
    Penny, so sorry about your dog...how sad.
  9. by   Agnus
    Pseudomonas does not smell like gauze. You have come to associate that smell with gauze because pseudomonas is commonly found on gauze dressings that cover wounds.

    With freshly washed hands remove a piece of steril gauze from its wraper and sniff. Then ad some steril water to the gauze. Sniff again.

    Gauze is cotton. If it has an odor it is cotton. Keep in mind our cotton clothing has an odor because of what we launder it in and how and where we store it. Even though I use unsented detergent if you check very closely you can still pick up a sent. From the dry, from the air if line dryed, from the bleach and yes even from the unsented detergent.

    Gauze like all cotton absorbs odor easily from its enviorment. When pseudomonas is present (and it almost always is even though the wound may not be infected) it picks up that odor
  10. by   KellieNurse06
    Quote from Agnus
    Pseudomonas does not smell like gauze. You have come to associate that smell with gauze because pseudomonas is commonly found on gauze dressings that cover wounds.

    With freshly washed hands remove a piece of steril gauze from its wraper and sniff. Then ad some steril water to the gauze. Sniff again.

    Gauze is cotton. If it has an odor it is cotton. Keep in mind our cotton clothing has an odor because of what we launder it in and how and where we store it. Even though I use unsented detergent if you check very closely you can still pick up a sent. From the dry, from the air if line dryed, from the bleach and yes even from the unsented detergent.

    Gauze like all cotton absorbs odor easily from its enviorment. When pseudomonas is present (and it almost always is even though the wound may not be infected) it picks up that odor
    and also mostly all patients with trachs colonize this too.........my childs ent and pulmonary docs both told me this.....they will always test positive for the organism......... Good Info Angus!
  11. by   DaFreak71
    Sometimes fungi smells like band-aids.
  12. by   all4schwa
    a lot of nursing home residents get yeasty under their folds... i could smell it just walking into the room, it's like 'okay, i know you've got it, now let's find it'

    mos def about the cdiff, gi bleeds....
  13. by   TheCommuter
    I know the smell of C-diff poop.

    There was a gynecologist who claims he knew the smell of uterine cancer when performing a pelvic exam on his female patients. Even though uterine cancer is a disorder rather than an organism, it apparently has a distinctive smell to some doctors.
  14. by   Little Panda RN
    When someone is sick in my house it has a very distinct smell. I always clean the house from top to bottom after one of us has been sick and I air the house out to get rid of the odor. Also, have you ever noticed that very old age has a certain smell and so does cancer. I have difficult time explaining what they smell like, but I know that smell when I smell it!

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