Bad breath can be the result of many simple things. Something you ate, dehydration, or forgetting to floss. Sometimes it just happens. It’s no big deal. You brush your teeth, rinse with mouthwash, and you’re good to go.
But what if your bad breath keeps coming back? Chronic bad breath can be a signal that something else is going on in your body that may need medical attention.
Check out this list of medical conditions that can cause bad breath and symptoms to look out for.
1) H. Pylori
H. Pylori is a bacterial infection in your stomach that can cause bad breath. It sounds scary, but it’s relatively common. It’s estimated that anywhere from 30%-40% of adults in the U.S. will get the infection during their lifetimes.
Symptoms include bad breath, bloating, nausea, and weight loss. It’s important to seek medical treatment because the infection can damage the lining of your stomach and cause inflammation. It can cause peptic ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer.
2) Tonsil Stones and Tonsillitis
Tonsil stones are calcium deposits that may not cause any symptoms or pain at all. If they don’t cause any symptoms, they’re generally considered harmless. For some, however, tonsil stones start to irritate the throat and cause bad breath.
Tonsillitis is caused by virus or bacteria build-up, and it does require medical attention. Symptoms include inflammation, sore throat, fever, headache, and bad breath.
3) Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of your gums. It happens when food and plaque get stuck below your gum line, and it can be quite painful. Primary symptoms include inflamed and/or bleeding gums, loose teeth, a receding gum line, and bad breath.
Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated, so it’s essential to seek medical treatment if you exhibit symptoms.
4) Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a medical condition where the small intestine doesn’t produce enough lactase to break down natural sugars that are found in foods such as milk and yogurt. The result is that the sugar, or lactose, travels to the large intestine, causing bloating, gas, diarrhea, and bad breath.
If you notice that these symptoms appear after eating dairy products, you may be lactose intolerant and require a trip to the doctor.
5) Fetor Hepaticus
Fetor hepaticus is a severe liver condition where the organ is unable to rid your body of toxic substances. It causes sulfur substances to enter the bloodstream and travel to your lungs. The result is that you exhale bad breath.
The disease is extremely uncommon, and bad breath associated with the illness has a very distinct smell of strong must. Other symptoms of fetor hepaticus include disorientation, and swelling in the legs and stomach.
When to Seek Medical Care for Bad Breath
The first line of defense against bad breath is having good oral hygiene habits, such as regular brushing and flossing. If you’re doing these things and can’t seem to beat the problem, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
If your dentist determines that the problem is not a result of bacteria in your mouth, it’s time to see your primary care physician. They may run some simple tests or recommend follow-up care with a specialist based on your symptoms.