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A Man In China Got Seriously Sick From Sniffing His Stinky Socks

If you're eating we strongly suggest you stop. No, seriously.

Here goes: A man in China has been hospitalised with a severe lung infection doctors think he contracted from smelling his dirty socks.

Stay with us here.

According to LiveScience, the 37-year-old had a peculiar habit of coming home after a long day at work, taking off his socks and giving them a big ol' sniff.

In a video posted to Chinese news site Pear Daily, the man ended up contracting a fungal infection in his lungs that doctors attributed to fungal spores he inhaled from his socks.

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According to ScienceAlert who cited local reports, the man told doctors he had become "addicted to smelling his socks that he had been wearing".

That said, doctors told a local newspaper the Fujian Daily the man's infection may have been exacerbated by his  "lack of rest at home as he had been looking after his child, leading to a weaker immune system."

All jokes aside, is it even possible to get sick from sniffing dirty socks?

Well, according to Dr William Schaffner, who is an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and was not involved in the Chinese man's case ... yes and no.

He told LiveScience that in his "long clinical experience," he'd never heard of a case like this, but added that the case is "very interesting, if true."

Lung infections from inhaling fungal spores are actually pretty well documented. Cave explorers regularly run the risk of contracting a disease called histoplasmosis, which is described by the Mayo Clinic as "an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings."

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But not all stinky smells are bad. You see, earlier this year a study has found that women who get a whiff of their partner's scent -- whether that's on their used clothes, bedding or even shoes -- feel calmer, happier and less stressed.

The research, conducted by the University of British Columbia, Canada, involved 96 women, who were asked to randomly smell one of three scents: a male partner’s, a stranger’s and a neutral scent. They weren't told which was which.

Why ladies only? According to the researchers, women “smellers” were recruited because they tend to have a better sense of smell than men. Go figure.

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Those women who copped a big sniff of their partner after participating in a stress test -- a mock job interview and a mental math task -- were shown to experience a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.

Smelling a stranger's scent had the opposite effect, increasing cortisol levels.

This led the team to conclude that the scent of a romantic partner can make women feel calmer and happier.

Fascinating.

Then there was a study back in 2016 from the University of Exeter, which found that sniffing your partner's farts can help your cells live longer.

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According to one of the study's researchers, Professor Matt Whiteman: "When cells become stressed by disease, they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide."

He explained: "This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live. If this doesn't happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation.

"We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive."

This isn't the first time someone's strange addiction to sniffing -- or eating -- foul items has made the news.

On an episode of My Strange Addiction back in 2014, a US woman named Keyshia admitted a fondness for "sniffing, sucking, and chewing" dirty nappies.

Keyshia from My Strange Addiction. Source: TLC

The 22-year-old told the show that she estimated she had slurped around 25,000 dirty nappies, prompting her boyfriend to announce her addiction has now "gotten out of hand".

Ya think?

By the end of the episode, Keyshia vowed to break her addiction. It's unknown if she's managed to stick to her end of the bargain.

Feature Image: Getty