Most people wake up each morning with a bit of morning breath which is knocked out by brushing. But if you notice you have halitosis throughout the day that isn’t caused by eating garlic, onion, or smoking, it could be linked to a health condition.

Tooth decay and gum disease are among the most common reasons for breath odors. However, those are not the only sources of bad breath. If you’ve noticed something’s been off with your breath, it could be due to one of these ailments below.

  1. Respiratory Problems

    A lung infection like pneumonia, bronchitis, or the flu causes mucus and bacteria to build up the in the lungs and respiratory tract, creating a smell that is similar to decay. Dry mouth from asthma can also cause bad breath. Treatment for the illness can usually help the breath problem to resolve on its own.

  2. Heart Failure

    According to a study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, patients who have been diagnosed with heart failure have a unique scent to their breath, and it includes hints of acetone. Results from the test led to the development of a breathalyzer that can detect acetone and other elements unique to patients with severe heart stress.

  3. Cancer

    There are new tests specifically designed to check the breath for signs of lung, breast or stomach cancer, as the body releases chemicals that can be detected through such testing.

  4. Diabetes

    Sweet or sugary breath that is reminiscent of fruit can be a telltale sign of diabetes. Your doctor will know to check for “ketones” in the breath and also your insulin levels.

  5. Tonsils

    What you may not realize is that sometimes food particles or mucus can get stuck in the tonsils, causing the mouth to produce a rotting smell. Tonsil stones are the result! Tonsillitis could also be behind foul breath, but usually appears with other symptoms like fever, sore throat, swollen neck lymph nodes, or headache.

  6. Sinus Congestion

    Bacteria and other germs build up in the nasal cavities and emit odors that could smell “cheesy” or like mothballs. Visit a physician to seek antibiotic treatment or cleanse with a saline solution.

  7. Kidney Damage

    A fishy smell coming from the mouth is usually connected to kidney disease. In some people, it may smell more like ammonia.

  8. Digestive Issues

    Any irregularities in the digestive system such as Crohn’s disease, bowel problems, or acid reflux can lead to the breath having a smell like excrement. Seek medical treatment to find out how to aid your digestive issues including at-home remedies for gut health.

  9. Liver Disease

    Problems with the liver can result in a musty odor in the mouth. Additionally, cirrhosis is a serious liver condition that can cause the breath to smell like rotten eggs.

Bad breath is an embarrassing issue that many people have to contend with during some point in their lives. If yours is chronic and you’re having a hard time pinpointing the cause, it could be time to visit your doctor.

Have you learned about a medical issue due to breath odor being a symptom? Which of these is the most surprising to you? What other health conditions can you think of that can be linked to breath?


Science Daily

Dr. Steven Lin