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What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Cover

What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health

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.

Lactose Intolerance

What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Lactose IntoleranceIf 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.

Related: 10 Foods That Contain Addictive Ingredients

Kidney Problems

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:What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Kidney Problems

  • 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

Sleep Apnea

What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Sleep ApneaIf 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.

Related: How to Make Your Own Snore Relieving Gel in a Jar


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:What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Constant hunger and/or thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue

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:What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Acid reflux

  • 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

What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Sinusitis

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!

Stomach Cancer

What Bad Breath Tells You About Your Health - Stomach CancerThe 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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I am suffering from chronic bad breath for over 13 years. My dentist told me I have very good dental hygiene (no cavity, no cancer, no gum disease). I’ve been tested upper GI test twice. Everything is normal. Please advise if you know of the cure. Thank you and God bless you! Nobuko

Do you sleep with your mouth open? Have you had a sleep study done?

Just today I read an article about Ketogenic diets (a diet with very little starches, mostly meat and vegetables, and maybe some organic dairy). The article said that some people get “bad breath” because their body produces acetone and ketones and it can be smelled on skin and breath. The diet is considered extremely healthy, warding off all the diseases found in USA (cancer, diabetes, weight). Basically ketogenic means that the body’s fuel is fat based (meat, veggies, etc.) and not starch based (all processed foods and sugar). Here is the article I read: The reference to bad breath is at the very end of the article (that explains many types of ketogenic diets) and the first mention in a chart (probably last chart in article). Hope that helps.

Just read an article on doctor mentioning bad breath as a common indication of eating a ketogenic diet:
A keto diet essentially consists of mostly meat and veggies and very little starches (almost no USA based processed foods). He says the body fuels itself with keto diets with acetone that causes the odor. He suggests as a solution frequent mouth rinsing, brushing (tongue included) and coconut oil (I am presuming it to be a liquid, and not the solid, but you could melt the solid). Then swishing in a closed mouth the coconut oil in and out around your teeth. The mention in the article is at the very end of article, in first box, probably in last chart. His article also mentions about 10 different keto diets. Check it out. Best wishes.

You could do some oil pulling. I use a tablespoon of coconut oil and a drop of tea tree essential oil…. swish in mouth for 20 minutes. Afterwards, spit in trash oil is not to go in the sink. Then rinse with a good mouthwash. Do this daily. Read more on oil pulling.

Borsht soup (beef stock, grated beetroot, onions, red cabbage served with sour cream) is very good for the breath as well as being very healthy. In the Indian sub-continent people chew cloves or cardamom like chewing gum and it sweetens the breath.

Another cause can be from “tonsil stones.” These “stones” form in the crypts of the tonsil from food and debris that gets trapped. The smell is somewhat like mothballs. The technical name is tonsilolith.

As Susan commented, tonsil stones, or chronically infected tonsils can cause bad breath. They can also cause infection that makes it into the blood becoming systemic and oral/tonsil infection bacteria has been found in heart disease, dementia and other tissues/conditions. Apparently you can pick the stones off the tonsils. Swishing with 0.1% hydrogen peroxide can also clean oral cavity – Dr Thomas Levy wrote a free PDF book talking about this called Rapid Virus Recovery.

I also recently mentioned Rapid Virus Recovery by Dr. Thomas E Levy, MD, JD on this website; but couldn’t recall the free download address. I refound it: go to It is a great read intended for non-medical trained people. 345 pages. free.

Another symptom to take into account is SIBO (Small Intestin Bacteria Overgrowth) which, if treated soon enough, not only reduce the bad breath problem, but also prevent bowel cancer risk on the long term. Just a thought.

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