Halitosis Bad Breath Causes

We often associate bad breath with the foods we eat, but there are many other surprising causes of halitosis. Understanding and treating the cause of bad breath is the best way to get rid of the problem.

Alcohol and Bad Breath

It is easy to smell alcohol on the breath of someone who has been drinking. However, halitosis caused by alcohol often has nothing to do with the smell of the alcohol that has been consumed.

Drinking alcohol causes gases to be produced in the digestive system. These foul-smelling gases rise up and are exhaled with the breath. In addition, alcohol dries out the mouth, which contributes to bad breath.

To lessen alcohol-induced bad breath, be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water when you consume alcohol. Keeping alcohol drinking to a moderate level will minimize the digestive problems that contribute to bad breath.

Halitosis: Constipation and Poor Digestion

In addition to being an unpleasant experience, constipation also is a cause of bad breath. Being constipated creates unpleasant-smelling gases, which rise up through the body and can be smelled on the breath.

Poor digestion only adds to the problem. When undigested foods pass into the intestines, they can decay and create even more foul odors on the breath.

Eating a diet rich in fiber (i.e., fresh fruits, grains and vegetables) and drinking plenty of water should ease constipation and the bad breath it causes. If you have chronic problems with constipation or digestion, be sure to see your doctor to help you manage these conditions.

Dehydration and Bad Breath

Dehydration can cause constipation and other digestive problems, which produce bad breath. Being dehydrated also dries the mouth, which prevents bacteria from being washed from the mouth and, thus, contributes to bad breath.

Drinking plenty of water, 36 to 64 ounces per day, should prevent bad breath due to dehydration.

Intestinal Bacteria Imbalance and Halitosis

We all need certain bacteria in our intestines to maintain good digestive health. When there is a shortage of these so-called good bacteria, acid reflux and yeast overgrowth can result. This can occur as a result of antibiotic use, diet or medical conditions.

A lack of beneficial bacteria can produce bad breath. Luckily, bad breath caused by an intestinal bacteria imbalance can be easily relieved by taking probiotics, elements that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Intestinal Parasites and Bad Breath

Parasites living in the intestines can cause a host of health problems. These problems include:

  • bad breath
  • bloating
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • hair loss and brittle hair
  • rashes
  • mood swings
  • muscle cramps
  • weight changes.

Bad breath from parasites can only be cured by treating the parasitic infection. If you suspect you have parasites, be sure to see your doctor.

Halitosis from Running Out of Fuel

For our bodies to function in a healthy way, we need fuel in the form of carbohydrates. The body can experience a shortage of this essential fuel from:

  • crash dieting
  • exercising vigorously without eating properly
  • fasting
  • following a low-carbohydrate diet.

When the body experiences a shortage of carbohydrates, it must burn fat for energy. The by-products of this process are ketones, which increase acidity in the body and cause bad breath. Eating healthy complex carbohydrates regularly will prevent this problem.

Menstrual Cycle and Bad Breath

The hormonal changes that occur during a woman ‘s menstrual cycle can contribute to bad breath.

The premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle is the time when the worst breath can occur. This is due to an increase of proteins in the saliva, which feed anaerobic bacteria in the mouth. When the bacteria feast on these proteins, foul-smelling gases are released. This causes halitosis.

Careful dental hygiene during all phases of the menstrual cycle will minimize this problem.

Halitosis from Milk Intolerance

Not everyone can digest milk and dairy. People with milk intolerance, which is known as lactose intolerance, experience stomach and intestinal distress after eating dairy products. The gases produced during this distress can rise to the mouth, producing bad breath.

If you are lactose intolerant, you can improve your breath by taking lactase enzyme when you eat dairy or by eliminating dairy foods from your diet.

Sinus Problems and Halitosis

Sinus conditions can cause more than just a stuffy nose. Bad breath results from many sinus problems, including:

  • allergies
  • sinus infections
  • upper respiratory infections.

These conditions can produce postnasal drip and can cause nasal discharge to find its way to the back of the tongue. If this mucus contains bacteria and viruses, it will cause bad breath when it reaches the mouth. Even if the mucus is not infected, natural oral bacteria will feed on the mucus, creating waste products and producing bad breath.

To improve breath odors caused by sinus problems, see your doctor to treat any stubborn infections and get allergies under control.

Stress and Bad Breath

As if stress wasn ‘t unpleasant enough on its own, it can also contribute to a variety of health problems, including bad breath.

Stress can have an intense effect on the digestive system. Once the gases produced during digestive upset rise through the body, bad breath is the result.

There are many ways to reduce stress, including:

  • meditation
  • relaxation techniques
  • yoga.


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Animated-Teeth.com (2007). Bad Breath: Causes and Contributing Factors. Retrieved December 19, 2007, from the Animated-Teeth.com Web site: http://www.animated-teeth.com/bad_breath/t2_causes_of_bad_breath.htm.

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