5 Health Conditions Your Breath May Tell You About
What on earth is that smell? It’s your breath! Would you like a mint? A piece of gum? Mouthwash? Please . . . take one – or two! Many people suffer from halitosis due to just plain poor oral hygiene. Bad breath can be caused by the following:
• Food such as spices, onions, garlic enter the bloodstream and are released through the lungs.
• Bacteria from food particles
• Tobacco products
• Plaque causes gum irritation and bleeding.
• Medications distribute smelly chemicals through the body
• Medications, improper hydration, and sleeping with the mouth open
Bad breath may also be an indicator of other health issues by releasing chemicals or bacteria into the bloodstream and given off through the mouth. Examples are:
• Infections from tooth decay or gum disease
• Sinus, nose, and throat infections and post-nasal drip
• Other conditions such as acid reflux or cancer
However, for those who have taken the proper measures toward oral hygiene such as brushing their teeth and tongue after meals, keeping their mouths hydrated and using dental floss, sometimes bad breath is not their fault. An article from the Mayo Clinic stated that offensive breath may be a warning sign of serious health conditions and a medical doctor should be seen to determine any underlying causes.
According to the Everyday Health website, bad breath can be an indicator of serious diseases such as the following:
Sometimes the breath can take on familiar but unpleasant odors such as ammonia, urine, or fish. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they cannot filter out waste and toxins from the blood. Once these poisons enter the respiratory system, they are expelled through the lungs and mouth instead of through the urine.
According to a study performed by researchers at the University of Latvia in 2013, lung cancer is usually diagnosed through x-rays, ultrasounds or through biopsies. However, there is now a non-invasive and less expensive procedure using an “electronic nose” which analyzes the compounds in the breath which can identify lung cancer triggers. The American Society of Clinical Oncology indicates that cancer cells have a very distinct, unique odor.
Research from the American College of Cardiology were able to detect heart failure in patients by using mass spectrometry technology. Breath samples were analyzed for chemical compounds or infections that could be a warning design for heart failure.
If it is not obvious already, studies have shown that bad breath is an indicator of obesity. Most obese people consume a diet of unhealthy foods that do not digest properly in the gut and cause an overgrowth of methane gas producing microbes. The foul-smelling methane gas is expelled through the mouth.
The breath of a diabetic may reek of nail polish remover or have an acetone-like smell. If the blood sugar isn’t stabilized, the body is unable to fight infections. Diabetics are known for having a fruity breath odor if the body goes into ketoacidosis, or producing ketones in the bloodstream when insulin levels are too low. This can cause a diabetic coma or even death.
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Even though there is evidence that bad breath can be caused by underlying medical conditions, there are several foods that may temporarily combat this problem by neutralizing the acids in the mouth:
• Hard cheeses
• Black tea
• Sugar-free candies/snacks
It is very important to pay close attention to oral hygiene. If bad breath is still present after proper care of the mouth, ask someone to do a “breath check” since it is impossible to check it yourself. While this may be uncomfortable, it could save your life someday!