A WOMAN who suffered years of misery due to a rare condition which causes bad breath has seen her life turned around thanks to a new diet.

Mum-of-four Claire Rhodes said when the illness was at its worst she considered suicide, suffered panic attacks and was unable to leave the house due to cruel comments from people.

However, since being diagnosed with Trimethylaminuria (TMAU), or fish odour syndrome, Claire, 34, now sticks to a strict diet of specific fruit and vegetables, which has not only brought the problem under control but has also seen her lose almost seven stone in weight.

She said she now wanted to bring the condition to the attention of the public and ensure others did not suffer like she did.

“It doesn’t actually make you smell of fish, the problem was more halitosis for me,” she said. “It was awful. I stayed in for a whole year and only went out to go to work.

“I had ten years of not knowing what was wrong with me. I think if I hadn’t got this sorted I wouldn’t be here now.”

Claire, from Hull Road, said the breakthrough finally came while watching a television documentary featuring a woman with similar symptoms.

Claire went to her doctor who, despite having doubts, sent her for tests which came back positive for TMAU. Even after diagnosis, the effect of years of comments from people had taken its toll on Claire’s confidence.

She said: “I had to have therapy to change my way of thinking and to control the panic attacks.

“I could never actually smell it myself, so I had to rely on what other people were saying to me to make me aware of when there was a problem. It was hard to get out of relying on that.” That was two years ago, and Claire is now part of a support group for those with TMAU, and also raises awareness of the problem.

“I don’t want others to go through what I did,” she said. “Now, because of all the campaigning, the condition is included in the course for doctors at medical school.”

She said: “I’m just grateful that I am still here today for my family.

“It might sound funny to other people, but this was a serious medical problem which had a massive effect on my mental and physical wellbeing.”

Claire urged anyone who thought they may have TMAU not to suffer in silence. “This is a medical problem, not a hygiene problem,” she said. For more details on the condition, go to tmau.org.uk