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Conditions your breath helps detect

A quick breath check can save you from more than just an awkward or embarrassing social situation — it could save your life. Here are some diseases your mouth odour can reveal to you

  1. Stomach cancer or H Pylori — metallic taste and smell

A metallic taste in your mouth with a similar breath odour is a typical sign of a serious condition — stomach cancer at advanced stages. However, it must be noted that sometimes certain medications can give similar bad breath.

2. Lung cancer — rotting smell

Lung cancer, like any other cancer, is known to produce a certain odour in the breath and it’s often described as a rotting smell. So, if your breath has changed and is definitely smelling of something rotten, then it’s absolutely time to see a doctor.

3. Diabetes — fruity or acetone breath

Poorly managed diabetes can make you more susceptible to gum disease and dry mouth. When blood sugar levels aren’t stabilised, the weakened body isn’t able to fight bacteria that can cause infections that harm the gums. These same infections are what cause bad breath.

But a fruity breath odour or an odour 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, by-products of fat metabolism. These acids, which include acetone, hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate, can accumulate in the blood and lead to a diabetic coma or death.

4. Kidney failure- fishy breath

Fishy breath isn’t always from seafood: A mouth that smells like fishy-odour urine, 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 odour can occur when kidney failure affects the respiratory system and causes breathing problems.

5. Liver failure — mouldy and sweet smell

A sweet mould-like smell means that your liver is not working well, or even maybe failing at this moment. Another symptom of this condition is the yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes. If you notice this, schedule an appointment with a doctor.

6. Respiratory conditions — mothball smell

Respiratory tract infections such as flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis are common causes of bad breath. When respiratory tract infections break down or inflame the tissues in the respiratory system, it can trigger the production of bacteria-feeding cells and mucus.

Allergies and postnasal drip may also be what causes 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 cause foul breath.

It usually disappears on its own when you get well. However, if you have chronic sinusitis, then you might have to discuss the matter with your doctor.

7. Acid reflux or heartburn — sour smell

Digestive conditions such as acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are bad-breath causes. Both digestive conditions can delay or prevent food from processing efficiently in 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. Also, changing your diet and excluding certain foods such as alcohol, garlic, spicy food, and coffee may also help.

8. Lactose intolerance — sour milk smell

A sour milk smell is a sign of a lactose intolerance, meaning your body cannot break down protein in the milk. There are, however, other symptoms such diarrhoea and cramps.

9. Periodontitis, or gum disease — rotting teeth smell

If you have a rotten tooth, then your breath will definitely be letting you know that something is wrong. If that’s the case, then it’s necessary to make an appointment with a dentist. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two conditions associated with rotting teeth and bad odour from your mouth.

10. Tonsil stones — smell of a dirty diaper

Tonsil stones is yet another condition connected with bad breath. Patients describe this odour as “dirty diaper” smell. Tonsil stones accumulate in your throat on the tonsils. Visit a doctor so that he or she can get rid of the calcium and bacteria accumulated on your tonsils.

Compiled by Ann Wairimu

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