Digestive Conditions And Bad Breath

Digestive Conditions And Bad Breath

If you have bad breath, you may wonder why. If you also have a digestive problem, you may wonder if the two are related. It is actually unlikely that they are related, however, it is possible.

Facts About Bad Breath

Halitosis is described as an unpleasant odor from the mouth or simply bad breath. Often, a person isn’t aware that they have bad breath - they only find out when others tell them.

Bad breath is very common. It is estimated that close to 32 percent of people worldwide have bad breath. It is also true that it affects people not only physically, but socially and emotionally.  

  • 87% of bad breath is due to problems with the mouth, ears, nose, and throat.

  • Only 13% is due to problems that originate in other parts of the body.

Short-term Bad Breath

Everyone experiences short-term bad breath, for example, morning breath. Waking with bad breath is mainly from decreased saliva, food particles, and bacteria in the mouth while you’re sleeping.

Eating certain foods, like garlic and onions, drinking alcohol, and smoking often result in bad breath. It may last for several hours, but it does go away.

Long-term Bad Breath

Long-term bad breath is most often from conditions affecting your mouth, ears, nose, and throat. It may also be from conditions affecting other parts of your body, and from taking certain medicines.

Again, almost 90% of bad breath is from the following:

Although infrequent, bad breath may be associated with the following common conditions - they affect certain organs, body systems, or the whole body.

Many medicines can cause dry mouth. As mentioned, it is one of the causes of bad breath. Other types of medicines may also cause mouth odor. Some are included in the following table.

Gastrointestinal-related Bad Breath

Gastrointestinal (GI) causes of bad breath are uncommon, although possible. Mouth odor may occur in those with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection (which causes gastric ulcers) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GORD). Other GI conditions are also associated with mouth odor, such as hiatal hernia, infection, or blockage.

Managing Bad Breath 

You may seek care from your doctor or dentist. Depending on who you see first, and what they find, your doctor may refer you to a dentist or your dentist may suggest you see your doctor.

Most halitosis is due to mouth-related causes, consequently, dentists and hygienists often detect its cause. Once your mouth, teeth, and gums are assessed, they will also review your medical and medication history.

The dentist may treat the problem and/or refer you to other dental professionals. They may also suggest that you see your primary care doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

For More Information

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2020). Bad Breath. Retrieved 3.22.2021 from https://medlineplus.gov/badbreath.html.