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Bad smells are good

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 02 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:553
  1. Liam Farrell, general practitioner
  1. Crossmaglen, County Armagh

    I'm pretty hardy, and not overly sensitive to bad smells; delicacy is not a virtue in this job. Humans can apparently distinguish up to 10 000 different scents, which is useful for docs, as every body fluid has its own distinct aroma, and when these have been percolating for a few weeks or more they can become a heady brew. Smegma, the stuff from infected sebaceous cysts, really stale urine, navel fluff that has been there for a generation, dead bodies, steatorrhoea, purulent phlegm, bad …

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