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Acetone and Genes Robert Matz, Professor-MedicineMont Sinai School of Medicine,Neww York,N.Y.When I was but a callow youth-either in medical school or residency I was told[I have no reference ]that the ability to detect the odor of acetone on a patients breath was genetic.I don't knoww whether it is dominant or recessive.In my experience those who can detect it do so with no training and are able to do so repeatedly with ease.Those who can not detecct it never acquire the ability regardless of training.The important issue clinically is that a practitioner who is unable to detect this aroma should be awware and never in aclinical setting attempt to determine whether a diabetic with a high blood sugar is ketotic by smell alone.
... I can smell acetone as a pure chemical in a bottle, just not on the breath of a patient.
ketone body, acetone body (a ketone that is an intermediate product of the breakdown of fats in the body; any of three compounds (acetoacetic acid, acetone, and/or beta-hydroxybutyric acid) found in excess in blood and urine of persons with metabolic disorders)
Some people cannot smell acetoacetic acid as such, but can recognise the acetone smell in the breath. If you are able to smell acetoacetic acid it is very distinctive, and not easily mistaken for anything else. The closest other smell resembling that of acetoacetic acid is very ripe apples, but not everyone finds that a useful description.