When you experience bad breath, your first impulse may be to blame it on bad oral hygiene. Your teeth consist of layers that are sometimes penetrated by bacteria, especially if you’ve recently chipped a tooth or had a filling. If this happens, an infection can set in, resulting in pain and odor.
While gum disease and tooth decay are indeed common causes of bad breath, if the problem persists even after you’ve seen a dentist and started brushing and flossing regularly, there may be something else going on. In this article, we’ll review some common diseases that can result in bad breath and what symptoms can alert you to each one.
If your breath smells like sour milk, it may be a sign of lactose intolerance. A milky odor can indicate that when you consume dairy products, you aren’t breaking down their proteins properly. If you also experience gas, stomach cramps, and diarrhea after consuming milk products, you might want to schedule an allergy test with your healthcare provider.
Healthy kidneys are vital to your well-being. They remove toxins and chemicals from your body, flushing them out as urine. When they don’t function like they’re supposed to, it impacts the rest of your body, including the respiratory system. The following symptoms are all indicators that something may be going on with your kidneys:
- Fatigue and overall lack of energy
- Dry and itchy skin
- Need to frequently urinate
- Bloody and/or foamy urine
A fishy odor on your breath can also indicate a kidney disorder. Kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, occurs when the kidneys are damaged to the point where they can no longer filter waste products from the blood. As a result, dangerous toxins and wastes don’t leave the body and accumulate, causing widespread complications. When kidney failure affects the respiratory system, it can cause fishy-breath odor.
Related: Homemade Kidney Cleanse Juice
If you regularly notice bad breath when you wake up, you may be experiencing more than your typical morning breath. Dry mouth during the night can lead to the build-up of stinky bacteria just like not drinking enough water.
Snorers are more likely to experience this issue than those who breathe normally during sleep. Snoring can sometimes be caused by sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing during the night and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Snoring complications may be treated by your dentist or orthodontist, especially if jaw alignment is a problem. In cases of mild sleep apnea, your doctor might recommend simple lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or losing weight.
With moderate to severe sleep apnea, you might benefit from a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep. The air pressure in a CPAP machine is greater than that of the surrounding air, which prevents sleep apnea and snoring by keeping your airways open.
When diabetes is poorly managed, one is more likely to develop gum disease and dry mouth. Having high blood sugar levels weakens the body’s ability to fight bacteria that can cause gum infections. These infections also cause bad breath.
However, a fruity breath odor or an odor similar to acetone (used in nail polish remover) can also indicate ketoacidosis, a serious problem in diabetics. When the body lacks insulin, it uses fatty acids for energy, resulting in the production of acidic ketones. These acids, which include acetone, hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate, can build up in the blood and result in a diabetic coma or death.
If you’re experiencing the following symptoms in addition to unusual breath odor, see your doctor for an evaluation:
- Frequent urination
- Constant hunger and/or thirst
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Dry skin
Acid Reflux and GERD
Digestive conditions such as acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, delay or prevent food from being processed normally in your stomach. When food is digested more slowly, it can decay and even be regurgitated, causing bad breath. You may even experience acid erosion in your teeth and a sore, inflamed throat.
Other symptoms may include:
- Heartburn after eating, which may be worse at night
- Pain in your chest
- Trouble swallowing
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
GERD isn’t the only digestive health issue that can cause bad breath. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, the H. pylori bacteria that causes stomach ulcers may also cause bad breath.
Related: Home Remedies For Acid Reflux
Sinusitis and Allergies
Several respiratory tract infections can cause bad breath, including the flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis. Inflammation of tissues in the respiratory tract can trigger the production of bacteria-feeding cells and mucus. In addition, allergies and nasal congestion can cause bad breath because they force you to breathe through your mouth, leading to dryness and bacterial growth.
Related: Allergies And Asthma No More!
The recent development of nanoarray analysis, which is a breath-test technology, has made it possible to identify levels of compounds with a known link to stomach cancer.
This test uses nanotechnology to analyze atoms called nanoarrays. In this instance, the array contains atoms from breath samples, and the computer examines them for the presence of specific compounds associated with stomach cancer.
In 2013, researchers in Haifa, Israel, tested breath samples from 484 people who had fasted for 12 hours and refrained from smoking for three hours before the test. Ninety-nine participants had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, although their treatment had not yet begun. Nanoarray analysis successfully detected the different early stages of stomach cancer, which may enable physicians to identify patients at greater risk of developing the disease.
Bad breath can be more than a social embarrassment. It could also be a sign that you need to brush and floss more frequently or it could mean that you’re in the early stages of stomach cancer. If brushing doesn’t resolve it, your next step should be a visit to your healthcare provider. Breath abnormalities can be one of the earliest symptoms of different illnesses, and taking action now can increase your chances of a successful outcome.
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