One of the wonderful things about the world is how unique people are. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, quirks and ticks. Some of them are cute, like how my mother spends $70 a month to feed the squirrels in her neighborhood. Some of them are...well, less cute, but they rarely result in a hospital visit.
Rarely, but not never.
So brings us to the very unusual case of a man in China who wound up in the hospital because of his strange habit: sniffing his socks.
Peng is 37 and, for at least a few years, has had the unusual habit of taking a big whiff of his dirty socks. It's unusual to say the least, but he had the decency to do it in private.
It wasn't until he started having trouble breathing that he went to the hospital. He complained of chest tightness and pain and had developed a serious cough. He was admitted and doctors started treating him for pneumonia.
Strangely, his condition didn't seem to improve. Scans of his lungs showed that Peng had developed a serious fungal infection that was damaging his lungs. When doctors spoke to Peng, he confessed his daily ritual.
Turns out his bizarre but innocent habit wasn't so innocent. He had been inhaling fungal spores every day. The eventually lodged in his lungs and began to grow.
Once the doctors knew what they were looking at, they began successful treatment.
According to reports in local newspaper Fujian Daily, the man told doctors that he had become "addicted" to smelling the socks he'd worn during the day. Continued, purposeful deep sniffs of his own socks most likely allowed the fungal spores get into his lungs, where they developed into the fungal infection.
"The infection could also be attributed to the patient's lack of rest at home as he had been looking after his child, leading to a weaker immune system," Dr Mai Zhuanying at the Zhangzhou No. 909 Hospital told Fujian Daily.
Peng has been kept in hospital for treatment, but is expected to make a full recovery. It's unclear why he had become addicted to sniffing his socks.
It's never good to judge someone before you walk in their shoes, but no matter whose shoes you've been walking in, it's probably a good idea not to sniff them, or the socks, afterwards.