We all know about various causes of bad breath or halitosis and tips or remedies to control them. But, have you ever thought that your breath can tell a lot about your health? Here are some common diseases that can be revealed through your breath first.
1. Tooth Decay and Gingivitis
When the enamel on your teeth erodes, food particles can get deposited in those holes, called dental caries. Because brushing your teeth can’t remove these food deposits, they can eventually grow bacteria, which produces a bad smell.
Gingivitis is another medical condition that may cause bad breath. When the gum becomes inflamed with bacteria, it can result in severe pain and funky-smelling discharge.
2. Respiratory Infections
Respiratory tract infections such as the flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis can be the root cause of bad breath. When respiratory tract infections break down or inflame the tissues in the respiratory system, this can trigger the production of bacteria-feeding cells and mucus.
Allergies and postnasal drip may also cause bad breath because these conditions tend to clog the nose. This nasal congestion may force you to breathe through your mouth, which can lead to dryness and the growth of bacteria that causes foul breath.
3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Foul breath can signal a foul gut. Digestive conditions such as acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can manifest in your breath. Both digestive conditions can delay or prevent food from processing efficiently from the stomach. When food doesn’t move through the digestive system, it can start to decay. Small amounts of undigested food may even regurgitate and cause bad breath. Dentists may also detect GERD in patients when they notice an inflamed red throat and acid erosion in the teeth.
But GERD isn’t the only digestive health issue that can affect your breath. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests that the H. pylori bacteria that causes stomach ulcers can make breath smelly if it lands in the mouth.
4. Sour Mouth: Sleep Apnea
Morning breath may seem normal after a night of sleeping. Saliva production decreases during sleep, which gives odor-producing bacteria an opportunity to multiply and grow.
But the slowed production of saliva during sleep can sometimes be caused by leaving your mouth open for long periods of time. People with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring may have trouble breathing through the nose, and are more likely to breathe through their mouths, which increases bad breath.
5. Fishy Breath: Kidney Failure
Fishy breath isn’t always from seafood: A mouth that smells fishy, urine-like, or similar to ammonia may indicate kidney failure.
The kidneys are responsible for removing toxic chemicals from the blood by creating urine. In kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, the kidneys become so damaged that they are no longer able to filter waste products and toxic chemicals from the blood. When this happens, the dangerous toxins and waste not discharged from the body accumulate and affect nearly every part of the body. The fishy breath odor can occur when kidney failure affects the respiratory system and causes breathing problems.
6. Fruity or Acetone Breath: Diabetes
Poorly managed diabetes can make you more susceptible to gum disease and dry mouth. When blood sugar levels aren’t stabilized, the weakened body isn’t able to fight bacteria that can cause infections that harm the gums. These same infections can cause bad breath.
But a fruity breath odor, or an odor similar to acetone (commonly used in nail polish remover) can also point to a serious complication in diabetic patients called ketoacidosis. When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, it instead uses fatty acids for energy, which produces acidic ketones, byproducts of fat metabolism. These acids, which include acetone, hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate, can accumulate in the blood and lead to a diabetic coma or death.
7. Rotting Flesh Smell: Lung cancer
People suffering from lung cancer can be differentiated from those affected with other lung complications with the help of a simple breath sample analysis. As the breath of lung cancer patients have different volatile compounds than those seen in normal healthy patients. This can be detected with the help of electric nose technology, which is highly sensitive and aids in easy detection of lung cancer. These volatile compounds easily evaporate into the air and cause a unique odor.