Halitosis Systematic Diseases

Bad breath, known in the medical community as halitosis, can be more than just an embarrassing problem. It may be an indication of a systematic disease. Many systematic diseases of the body can cause bad breath. These health problems include:

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • kidney problems
  • liver disorders
  • lung disease
  • Sjogren ‘s syndrome
  • stomach conditions.

Cancer and Bad Breath

Certain mouth and lung cancers can cause an unpleasant breath odor. Bad breath from lung cancer is so distinct that a Cleveland Clinic study found that lung cancer can actually be detected by an electronic odor-detecting device called Cyranose. Cyranose can detect characteristic odors and is generally used in the quality control and safety testing of foods, perfumes and wine. This new health application could save lives in the future.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments for all forms of cancer can create or add to the problem of bad breath. One side effect of these treatments is dry mouth. When there isn ‘t enough saliva in the mouth, foul-smelling bacteria can ‘t be washed away. These bacteria stay in the mouth and multiply, causing halitosis.

Diabetes and Bad Breath

The bad breath associated with diabetes is due to a serious condition calledketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs in diabetics when, due to a lack of insulin, cells can not get enough glucose for metabolism. The body tries to get the energy it needs by breaking down fats instead. This process causes the pH of the body to become more acidic by producing keytones. When the keytones build up in the bloodstream, the body sends them into the urine and the breath.

The bad breath caused by ketoacidosis is very distinct and has been described as sweet and fruity. This bad breath can save lives, as it can be used to diagnose diabetes in people who do not know they have the disease.

Kidney and Liver Problems

Our kidneys and liver have an important role in ridding the body of dangerous toxins. When these organs become diseased, it can cause bad breath.

The bad breath caused by kidney and liver problems can also be lifesaving, as doctors can use it to help diagnose these serious conditions. Bad breath caused by kidney failure can have a urine-like odor, and the breath of those experiencing liver failure often smells of fish.

Lung Disease and Bad Breath

Many lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis and asthma, can cause bad breath. The distinct, acidic breath caused by these diseases is also used as a lifesaving diagnostic tool. Not only does the odor indicate the presence of illness, but it can also give information about its severity. The more severe the condition is in an individual, the more acidic his breath becomes.

Sjogren ‘s Syndrome

Sjogren ‘s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes dry eyes and mouth. This condition damages the salivary glands in the cheeks and the lower jaw. Thus, the body is unable to produce enough saliva. Saliva flushes smelly germs from the mouth and helps prevent dental infections. Without enough saliva, mouth bacteria can cause bad breath.

Stomach Problems

Stomach and digestive problems can also produce bad breath. Digestive and stomach conditions related to bad breath include:

  • disorders that cause problems metabolizing fatty acids
  • disorders that cause infrequent elimination
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • ulcers.

Controlling Bad Breath

The best way to stop bad breath from most systematic conditions is to control the condition. It is important to find a doctor you can trust and consult her regularly for treatment and health assessment.

For conditions that cause dry mouth, try the following:

  • Keep the mouth moist with frequent sips of water. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candy will also moisten the mouth by encouraging saliva production.
  • Use mouthwashes that are free of alcohol. Alcohol can dry the mouth.

Everyone should practice good dental hygiene to keep their breath as fresh as possible. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day and be sure to floss regularly and thoroughly.


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