A close up of woman's hand over her mouth

Bad Breath From Lungs: Oral Hygiene May Not Be The Cause

It can be awkward to broach the issue of bad breath, for which the technical name is halitosis. Don’t worry: simple oral hygiene is often the culprit. But even with proper brushing, flossing and rinsing, sometimes your bad breath stems from a different origin.

What Causes Bad Breath From Lungs

It’s not uncommon for respiratory conditions to create bad breath from your lungs. Identifying those conditions is crucial to help and treat your bad breath. The respiratory conditions fall into two categories.

  • Respiratory conditions: Conditions like bronchitis, sinusitis, or pneumonia are common short-term afflictions that can lead to foul breath. When children have bad breath, it may indicate that they are developing one of these short-term conditions. Fortunately, recovering from these respiratory conditions should solve the problem of bad breath.
  • Chronic conditions: Some long-term or chronic conditions are often to blame. Three diseases in particular frequently yield bad breath.
    1. Cystic fibrosis patients may experience the symptom of bad breath. Thick mucus in the lungs causes respiratory conditions, and post-nasal drip leads to difficulty breathing and a foul odour.
    2. Asthma sufferers experience bad breath as many breathe with their mouth, causing dry mouth. Germs that cause bad breath love dry mouth, so any condition that causes dry mouth means you are also susceptible to bad breath. Medicated inhalers for asthma can also cause dry mouth, in turn triggering bad breath.
    3. Lung cancer has a distinct bad breath odour of its own, consisting of a particular combination of gases exhaled that identify the cancer. The National Center for Biotechnology, operated by the United States federal government, offers additional information on this phenomenon.

How to Treat Bad Breath From Lungs

Sinus afflictions, allergies, or post-nasal drips can cause the mucus in your mouth to resemble the smell of mothballs. Fortunately, there are some solutions:

  • Rinse your sinuses with warm water to clear out the mucus from the area
  • Take allergy medication prescribed by your physician
  • Take an antibiotic prescribed by your physician

There are some good treatment solutions for chronic conditions as well.

  • Cystic fibrosis: Try nasal irrigation, antibiotics, or nasal steroids — as recommended by your physician
  • Asthma: Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth
  • Lung cancer: See your oncologist for specific recommendations

When to Address Concerns with Your Dentist

Don’t stress; be straightforward with your dentist when discussing your bad breath. They’re experienced professionals who can provide a level of comfort for you on the topic. They can also tell you if oral hygiene is responsible for the issue or if further medical advice is needed to help eliminate your bad breath for good.

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