Bad Breath: 5 Diseases That Might Be Causing It

    A dentist examining dental x-rays while wearing a face protection maskCan the bad breath causes really include diseases?

    Yes.

    While poor dental hygiene accounts for most cases of halitosis, bad breath can sometimes be a signal for an underlying medical condition. And even when you take “bad breath” out of the equation, breath can still demonstrate health issues: a slew of recent studies have used simple breath tests to screen for medical conditions.

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    READ: 5 Foods Your Dentist Won’t Touch

    Diabetes

    READ: 6 Fixes For Not-So-Fresh Breath

    But a fruity breath odor, or an odor similar to acetone (commonly used in nail polish remover) can also signify 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, byproducts of fat metabolism. These acids, which include acetone, hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate, can accumulate in the blood and lead to a diabetic coma and death.

    Lung Cancer

    READ: Are Non-Smoking Hotel Rooms Really Safer?

    They found that among the non-smokers, lung cancer was accurately identified in 128 subjects and misdiagnosed in only five. Among smokers, the electronic nose correctly identified 114 people as having lung cancer, misdiagnosing five. The findings were presented on September 9 in the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona.

    Heart Problems

    READ: What Most Blacks Don’t Know About Their Heart

    Researchers were able to use a simple breath test to identify patients suffering from heart failure, according to a March 2013 paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

    Cleveland Clinic researchers collected breath samples from 41 patients. Twenty five were officially diagnosed with “acute decompensated heart failure.” Sixteen patients had other cardiovascular conditions but showed no signs of heart failure.

    Kidney Problems

    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 odor can occur when kidney failure affects the respiratory system and causes breathing problems.

    Digestive Disorders

    Both digestive conditions can delay or prevent food from processing efficiently from 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.

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