You already don't feel your best, and then you notice (or someone mentions) that you have bad breath. Did you know that bad breath can be a tell-tale sign of a sinus infection? It’s true. That’s what happens when you have sinus drainage in the back of your throat. It’s not pleasant, but it is treatable, and when the infection is gone, so is the bad breath associated with it. Here’s what you should know and can do.
Can A Sinus Infection Cause Bad Breath?
Sinus infections occur when there's a fluid build-up in your sinuses. Germs grow. Colds, allergies, smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke, a weak immune system and structural problems in the sinuses can all cause sinus infections.
Symptoms include: a runny and/or stuffy nose, facial pain or pressure, headache, post-nasal drip, sore throat, cough and bad breath. Acute sinusitis lasts less than four weeks, whereas chronic sinusitis may last longer than three months.
The mucus in infected sinuses smells bad. Infected mucus drips out of the sinuses and down the back of the throat, where it meets the air you exhale, and the odour from the infection transfers to your breath.
Many acute sinus infections clear up on their own. Symptoms can be soothed with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments such as anti-histamine tablets, nose sprays, acetaminophen and throat lozenges. Avoid using nasal decongestants for longer than three to five days. Drink plenty of (hot) liquids, use a humidifier and spray nasal saline as needed.
According to the College of Family Physicians of Canada, most patients will be better within 7-10 days. If sinusitis persists for more than 10 days it might be bacterial sinusitis. This might require antibiotics. Talk to your doctor if you get sinus infections often. Additional tests may be done to find out why.
You can help improve the smell of your breath by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
If you feel under the weather and are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms and having issues with bad breath, check with your physician to see if a sinus infection is the cause.