Bad breath smells and odors vary depending on the underlying cause or origin. Bad breath is usually harmless but it’s so embarrassing and nobody will tell you about it. Everyone has bad breath in the morning, this is usually as a result of the activities of natural occurring bacteria in our mouths. Leaving food particles lingering in the mouth brings odor, it promotes bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue.
Bacteria growth in the mouth is never a good thing, they tend to releases lots stinky gasses and compounds which gives rise to the bad breath. It’s believed that with consistent proper dental hygiene, that it’s possible to improve bad breath.
However, in the world today, millions of people have cases of chronic bad breath. Most of such people don’t seek help because they’re embarrassed, thinking that it’s only a sign of poor oral hygiene. But to truth is that there are certain foods and health problems that are among the causes of bad breath. Bad breath can be a sign of your body warning you of a serious health problem.
For example, when it comes to food, strong foods with strong odors such as garlic or onions can cause bad breath. The odor will not go away by brushing and flossing, it will only go when the foods have passed through your body completely.
Your mouth has a special connection with the overall health of your body. Bad breath smell can simply mean that there is problem somewhere in your body. The smell can be as a result of health problems such as respiratory tract infections, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip , diabetes, chronic acid reflux, liver or kidney problems. (1)
Types of bad breath smells
I don’t know if you have noticed that there are different bad breath smells. Each of the smells has its own unique characteristics that identify what’s causing it. It’s possible that your dentist can identify the type of smell in your bad breath. Identifying the type of smell can help to pinpoint the source or cause of the smell. Here are some types of bad breath smells. I will give a list of the smells and their possible orgins.
- Ammonia smell – Kidney problem
- Fishy smell – kidney problem, indicating an abnormal increase in urea levels.
- Cheesy smell – bad breath due to nasal problem.
- Fruity smell – it can be a sign of high blood sugar level (diabetes).
- Sweet, musty odor – indicates a problem at the liver, liver cirrhosis.
- Acidic smell – may indicate asthma or cystic fibrosis
- Strong fecal odor – may be as a result of abnormalities in the digestive system.
Types of Bad Breath
Here we are going to look at some of the diseases and infections that can cause bad breath.
1. Tonsillitis breath
The two tonsils are found are the back of the throat, they are inform of small pads of glandular tissue at each side of the throat. The main work of the tonsils is to produce antibodies and white blood cells. This two products from the tonsils are the body’s first line of defense against bacteria in the air and food. However, the tonsils can get infected by bacteria (streptococcus bacterium/strep throat) or by viruses. Tonsil infection is known as tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis can occur in acute or chronic forms causing bad breath. A red throat, loss of voice or changes in the voice, swollen lymph glands under each side of the jaw, white or yellow spots of pus on the tonsils and persistent bad breath are some of the symptoms of tonsillitis. Chronic tonsillitis may lead to tonsil stones. These stones are made up of mucus, bacteria and foul-smelling sulfur compounds.
The good news is that there are lots of treatments plans for tonsils, antibiotics are very effective for treating tonsillitis caused by bacteria. It’s also believed that you can dislodge tonsil stones at home by gargling with warm, salty water.
2. Sinusitis Breath
Nasal sinuses are connected system of hollow cavities in the skull, the largest is about an inch across. It’s found right within the cheeks, around and behind the nose. The main work of sinuses is to moisten and filter the air entering the nasal cavity. Sinus infection is known as sinusitis, sinusitis brings about inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Naturally, a healthy sinuses is supposed to be filled with air, but in cases of sinusitis, they are blocked and filled with fluids. The fluids easily lead to germs accumulation, infection and chronic bad breath.
People suffering from sinusitis, experience lots of symptoms such as post-nasal drip, headache, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste, thick colored mucus from the nose or down, bad taste in the mouth and persistent bad breath.
3. Unhealthy lung breath
An unhealthy lung can lead to bad breath. Respiratory infections and conditions usually cause distinct bad breath, bad breath can be an early symptom. Lungs infection and respiratory conditions such as croup, bronchitis, pulmonary abscess, tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia and Influenza can all lead to bad breath. Croup is very common in children, it’s an infection of the trachea or windpipe. Bronchitis and pneumonia involves the infection of the large airways, bronchi, alveoli, and the surrounding lung tissue.
4. Diabetes breath
People suffering from diabetes tend to have dysfunction in insulin production, causing them to burn fat and produce ketone. Chronic kidney failure due to diabetes can cause the breath to have a fishy or ammonia-like smell. This health condition is referred to as “uremic fetor,”, it’s a result of the high amount of urea in body fluids such as the saliva.
5. Unhealthy liver breath
In some cases, bad breath might be a result of problem from the liver. Unhealthy liver gives out sweet-smelling, musty odor from the breath. The sweet-smelling, musty odor on the breath shows that the body is trying to excrete by-products of sulfur-containing amino acid breakdown. (2) Cirrhosis being a chronic disease of the liver usually caused by damage from toxins, metabolic problems, hepatitis or nutritional deficiency can lead to bad breath.
Cirrhosis is characterised by an increase of fibrous tissue and the destruction of liver cells, it causes a chronic breath odor that smells like decayed blood or rotten eggs.
6. Gut breath
Improper function of the digestive system can lead to bad breath. There are certain health conditions that can cause foul-smelling air from the stomach to move up into oral cavity causing bad breath. Disease such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can lead to stomach distress and bad breath. When there is general imbalance in the digestive system, improper digestion of food, may causes side effects such bad breath, bloating, gas, and burping.
7. Menstrual Breath
According to studies, women tends to have bad breath more than the male counterparts. Although, there are equal amounts of oral bacteria across both genders, but bad breath in women is more common due to lower saliva levels during menstruation and menopause. It has been reported that bad breath in women is more likely to increase before and during their period.
However, menstrual bad breath is temporary. Hormonal changes during menstruation is the chief cause of such bad breath, once everything returns back to normal the bad breath should stop.
Knowing the difference in the types of bad breath smells, can help to determine the origin of the problem. Bad breath affects lots of people out there. If your breath is bad, it’s advisable that you should speak up. We have seen that bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene and health problems. Your bad breath might be indicating that there is a problem in your digestive system or in other organ in your body.
I hope that this article will be helpful, on my previous article, I tried to explain more on causes of persistent bad breath (halitosis). You can check out the post if you wish to learn more on bad breath.