CDiff Smell?


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104 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Perinatal, Float. Has 14 years experience.

on the subject of breath, I have smelled the worst chemical smell (that gives me a headache) from pts recently back from surgery. can anyone in OR elaborate on what exactly that is from? A certain gas/anesthetic?

also, no one has mentioned asparagus pee! ew!


524 Posts

Specializes in Neuro ICU, Neuro/Trauma stepdown.

well, it's not just the smell of the c-diff...the consistancy is like none other.



481 Posts

Specializes in Brain injury,vent,peds ,geriatrics,home.
well, it's not just the smell of the c-diff...the consistancy is like none other.


How true!And the asparagus pee smell too,Just like the appearance similarities in certain diseases and syndromes such as persons with Downs or kidney diseaseYou can pretty much diagnose what disorder based on odor and/or appearance.Arent you just amazed that with our assessment skills we could notice things that nonmedical persons would not?!!I find it facinating!


672 Posts

Specializes in Going to Peds!.
I don't recommend this as a diagnostic tool.:nono:

That's why I specified food. If I can smell an odor from a patient, it's pretty bad.


7 Posts

C-diff to me smells "swampy". That's the only word I can think to describe it.

And am I crazy or does psuedomonis have it's own special smell ? Kinda sickly sweet.:uhoh3:


Specializes in critical care: trauma/oncology/burns. Has 38 years experience.

Pseudomonias....YES it has its own distinct smell PLUS the blue/green color that you see on dressings!

I agree with all the above posters: C.diff, melena...Hey, what about that particular smell when you walked into the unit and smelled the Paraldehyde (an injection given to those going through the DTs. Not used anymore, have short acting barbiturates that have taken its place) You knew you were in for a "wild" night.

Happy New Year,


That "neuro smell" or "stroke smell" DEFINITELY comes form the mouth! I think it has to do with poor control over oral secretions, but like the previous poster said, you can do oral care q 15 min and still not get rid of it!

And thank goodness for in-line suction, remember that prevalent psedomonas smell when suctioning......yuck!

Also, is it just me, but whenever I smell bile I want to instinctively it's coming from some evolutionary refex??? (not to be confused with refux, har har!)


79 Posts

It has almost a sickly sweet smell...once you smell it you will not forget. And it seems to have the unique quality that if you ever empty a bedpan or wipe a bottom of someone that has it, you will smell like it for the rest of your shift, even though you wore gloves and washed your hands ten times.

Oh and by the way, welcome to nursing :)


66 Posts

I work on a GI floor. I don't even want to start on the different smells of bm. Our floor is big, but sometimes you can smell a GI bleed everywhere. Our sprays don't even touch it. Then it puts our patients in with nausea/vomiting into a vomiting spell...those are not fun days to work :(


3 Posts

Specializes in Gerontology, Hem-Onc, Palliative Care.

I agree with all of the similies that you all have with c diff. It is a "unique" smell. Have you also noted the odor of abx related Piperacillin/Tazobactum and Ciprofloxacin? The worst one I have ever encountered was many moons ago and its an odor I have never forgotten and recently reminded with "flesh eating disease" that has appeared more frequently now and that is "gas gangrene". My first time was with a gaping post op wound when I was a student....that is a smell that would knock the paint off the walls!

What is really great about differentiating all these smells...when you walk into a busy restaurant after your shift (usually nights) and you're looking for a nice quiet breakfast before you head off to sleep, all you have to do is discuss these malodorous shifts and you we see people gradually disappear from around you. Only nurses can appreciate that!


2 Posts

Has 22 years experience.

If you can smell the C-diff, pseudomonis, etc., you have sucked particles of the organism into your nasal passages, which is why you continue to smell it for so long. Your own system has to overcome the "sample". I carry a saline/TeaTree nasal spray in my bag to help overcome such occurances (as well as to proactively circumvent any stray flu/cold bugs that think I'm an inviting host!).

Specializes in Internal Medicine Unit.
I've read about it as well, here are a couple links:

ScienceDaily: Can Dogs Smell Cancer?

Dogs Can Smell Cancer - CBS News

My husband had a "different" odor to his breath before his thyroid cancer was diagnosed and treated. Don't know if it was the cancer or the impaired metabolism that gave off the odor. My grandfather had prostate ca. with mets to the bone. He had a very sickly sweet body odor that couldn't be washed from the bedding even long after he had died.