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(New Orleans) - Researchers say that a psychiatric condition characterized by the misleading belief of a person that it smells poorly is enormously less recognized.

called olfactory reference syndrome, the condition is "probably very common," says Katharine Phillips, MD, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

"These patients suffer tremendously," says WebMD. "They are concerned about the belief that they are issuing body odor or offensive, which is not perceived by others."

"They are harmed in terms of operation and have high suicide rates," says Phillips.

in a news briefing at the American meeting of psychiatric association, Phillips said that the condition was described all over the world for more than a century, but it was only minimally studied.

So she and colleagues examined the characteristics of olfactory reference syndrome in 20 patients seen in a providence, Hospital RI.

Your middle age was 33 and 60% were feminine and. His symptoms began between the ages 15 and 16, on average.

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Many hours worn worried about the bad smell

Overall, patients passed three to eight hours a day worried about their concerns that they smelled badly.

"They had thoughts like" I smell horrible "or" people are moving because I stink, "says Phillips.

A total of 85% was completely convinced that they They issued an unpleasant odor, although not. P>

In addition, 44% sought non-psychiatric treatment for their perceived body odor, including visits to gastroenterologists, dentists and dermatologists.

"Usually, these treatments have not diminished their concern with body odor" , Phillips says.

Bad breath 1 Complaint

Most (75%) thought they had bad breath, and 65% believed that their sweat smelled badly. About 30% blamed flatulence or stools for its dirty scent, and 20% blamed the urine.

"Most were worried about three different smells on average," says Phillips.

To mask your perceived odors, 90% returned to perfumes or post. "A person even swallowed the perfume to improve his breath," says Phillips.

Many Delusional About Smelling Bad

About 70% resorted to frequent showers, 60% constantly chewed chewing gum and 50% sucked on bullets. About a room changed his clothes several times a day to get rid of the imaginary stench.

"Some of these patients would use a whole bar of soap in a shower," she says.

Two-thirds think about suicide

The condition affected all your life, she says. A total of 74% said he avoided social situations, and 40% stayed at at least a week because they were so ashamed of their problems.

says more problematic, says 68% had suicidal thoughts and 32% really tried to kill themselves. About half had been hospitalized by a psychiatric problem.

If someone thinks they suffer from the condition, they should seek psychiatric help, she says.

"We are not clear to what treatment is better, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIS) may be useful," she says.

Ssris work blocking a receiver in the brain that absorbs a chemistry called serotonin that is known to influence the mood. They are commonly used to treat depression and other humor disorders.

Phillips says the olfactory reference syndrome is not a real diagnosis in the current version of the DSM-IV, the bible of psychiatry, although it is mentioned under the title of psychoses.

for the new version of DSM -V, which is expected until 2013, doctors want to add an appendix of disorders for which more research are needed, so "we can have an agreed definition," says Phillips .

There is no good figures about how common it is the common condition, but a Japanese study showed that more than 2% of college students were concerned about having strange body odors.

"But we can not suppose that it translates into olfactory reference syndrome," she says.

Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, Chairman of the APA Communication Council and Holliswood Hospital Medical Director in Queens, NY, tells WebMD that he never heard of the condition until Phillips presented his research.

"It seems very weakening; we need much more research," says Borenstein, who moderated the briefing of news.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary, since they have not yet submitted to the "peer review" process, in which external experts examine the data before publication in a medical journal.

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