Man Allegedly Develops Lung Infection by Constantly Sniffing His Dirty Socks

It turns out that smelling your own socks is not only gross but potentially deadly. A Chinese man was recently hospitalized with a severe pulmonary fungal infection, which he allegedly developed by constantly sniffing his used socks.

When he was brought in to the No 909 Hospital in Zhangzhou, China’s Fujian Province, the 37-year-old man, surnamed Peng, complained of chest pain and frequent coughing. An X-ray showed that he was suffering from a severe lung infection, and subsequent tests revealed that it had been caused by a bacteria typically found in used footwear. After being questioned by his doctors, Peng admitted that he had long developed a habit of sniffing his dirty socks every day after coming home from work, before throwing them in the laundry basket.

Photo: stevepb/Pixabay

Doctors believe that the fungus in the man’s dirty socks was sucked into his lungs when he inhaled deeply while sniffing his used footwear. However, they pointed out that this sort of infection is rare, and in this case may also be linked to a weak immune system. Peng had apparently been under heavy stress, going to work every day and then waking up several times a night to take care of his baby, which had taken a toll on his body.

“The infection could also be attributed to the patient’s lack of rest at home as he had looking after his child, leading to a weaker immune system,” Dr. Mai Zhuanying at the Zhangzhou No. 909 Hospital explained in a Pear video.

Because he was admitted to the hospital in the early stages of the infection, doctors were able to administer the appropriate treatment, and he is expected to make a full recovery.


This sort of wacky story doesn’t really get much attention, but there are apparently quite a number of compulsory dirty sock-sniffers out there, and they’ve been busy getting the word out about the risk associated with this habit. The hashtag “Lung infection caused by sniffing of smelly socks” has gotten over 65 million views on China’s no. 1 social media platform Weibo since Friday, and people seem genuinely worried.

“Oh, no! Maybe I should stop sniffing my socks after wearing them for an entire day!” one Chinese user commented on the story.

“I promise I’ll wash my socks every day now,” another one wrote.

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