Teacher overcoming rare disorder that made her 'smell like a fish'

Published: Saturday, April 28, 2018 @ 4:10 AM

Teacher Has Rare Disorder That Makes Her ‘Smell Like a Fish’

When she was growing up, she was derisively called “Connie the Tuna” by her classmates. 

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Connie Christy, 43, has trimethylaminuria, a genetic disorder that causes her to emit an odor that affects her breath, sweat and urine. Now, the Indiana teacher and mother of two is taking probiotic digestion aids to help battle the rare condition that makes her smell like a fish, Fox News reported.

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Christy said that eating certain foods -- including fish and eggs -- will cause her to “reek to high heaven” within 30 minutes because her body is unable to break them down, Fox News reported. What makes it worse for Christy is that she cannot detect the odor herself, so she must rely on her husband, two sons or friends to let her know.

“I know I'm a very hygienic person and I know it is not because of not being that way,” Christy, who lives in Sheridan, Indiana, told Fox News. "I do take care of myself but it's something that I can't control. It's always in the back of my mind; I'm wondering whether I smell.”

Despite showering daily, brushing her teeth and using perfume, Christy said she was unable to hide the smell until she started taking probiotic tablets three years ago. Until then, she was leery about going out in social situations.

“I have always been a social person but it has prevented me from doing certain things,” Christy told Fox News. “My husband and I were taking ballroom dance classes and I quit doing that because once in a while my husband would say, 'Oh, you're starting to smell.’

"I just wept," Christy said. "I didn't want people to sit and wonder, 'Does she take showers?' I do. I'm very clean. When my husband tells me, I will take a shower right away and try to wash it away but it doesn't always work."

Christy was diagnosed with the condition as a child after her parents noticed certain foods caused her to emit an unpleasant body odor. Trimethylaminuria is caused by a mutation in the FM03 gene, which helps break down trimethylamine, Fox News reported. 

"I can't smell it on myself so it was a shock to me," Christy said. "All through high school and middle school, how many times did I actually smell like fish and not know it? Through elementary I don't remember kids being mean, but my mom does remember me being called names like 'Connie the Tuna.'"

Finally, Christy discovered Plexus ProBio5 and Biocleanse and her symptoms went away, Fox News reported. She has been taking three tablets for three years and the smell has returned just three times, she told Fox News.

"Now I can eat pretty much anything and the test was crab legs," Christy said. "I love crab legs and when we used to eat them my husband says I reeked -- I would smell to high heaven in 30 minutes. It's a fill-up-the-kitchen smell.”

The digestive aids have given Christy more confidence to interact with people.

"I have so much more confidence to talk to people now," she told Fox News. "I have more confidence to share my story."