(Stock image for illustration purposes) During his medical examination, Peng admitted that he had a compulsion to sniff his smelly socks after arriving home from work every day, before tossing them in the laundry basket.

KUALA LUMPUR: Taking a whiff of your stinky socks can trigger more than just a retching reflex, a man in China has discovered.

According to the Daily Mail, the 37-year-old from Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, was admitted to hospital recently with a cough and chest pains, and was diagnosed with a severe pulmonary fungal infection.

Doctors at the Zhangzhou No 909 Hospital determined that the patient – surnamed Peng – had developed the infection after somehow inhaling the spores of a fungus which typically grows in used footwear.

During his medical examination, Peng admitted that he had a compulsion to sniff his smelly socks after arriving home from work every day, before tossing them in the laundry basket.

Doctors believe that the nasty habit, coupled with a weak immune system caused by stress, contributed to the infection’s spread.

Peng was immediately hospitalised and treated for his potentially life-threatening condition, and is expected to make a full recovery, the Daily Mail reported.

Lest the world think that Peng is alone in his weird fetish for sniffing used socks, news of his case exploded on Weibo, with the hashtag “Lung infection caused by sniffing of smelly socks” garnering 65 million views as of Friday.

Also, a legion of compulsive sock-sniffers outed themselves online, and admitted to being worried for their health.

“Oh, no! Maybe I should stop sniffing my socks after wearing them for an entire day!” one netizen wrote; while another confided: “The reason I smell my socks is to know if I can continue wearing them the next day!”

It looks like a whole bunch of people need to wake up and smell the COFFEE.

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