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Alternative namesBreath odor is unpleasant, distinctive, or offensive.
ConsiderationsSome disorders will produce specific, characteristic odors to the breath.
A fruity odor to the breath occurs as the body attempts to get rid of excess acetone through the breathing. This is a characteristic sign of ketoacidosis (such as diabetic ketoacidosis ), a potentially life-threatening condition.
A fecal odor to the breath (the breath smells like feces) can occur with prolonged vomiting , especially when there is a bowel obstruction . It can also occur temporarily if the person has a nasogastric tube in place (a tube placed through the nose or mouth to the stomach to drain the stomach contents).
The breath may have an ammonia-like odor (also described as urine-like or "fishy") in people with chronic kidney failure .
Common CausesIf previously normal breath turns into halitosis, causes could include:
Home CareUse proper dental hygiene (especially flossing), and remember that mouthwashes are not effective in treating the underlying problem.
Fresh parsley or a strong mint are often effective ways to fight temporary bad breath. Avoid smoking. Otherwise, follow prescribed therapy to treat the underlying cause.
Call your health care provider if
The medical history will be obtained, and a physical examination performed.
Medical history questions documenting breath odor in detail may include:
The physical examination will include a thorough examination of the mouth and the nose. A throat culture may be taken if the patient has a sore throat or mouth sores .
In rare cases, diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
Antibiotics may be prescribed for some conditions. For an object in the nose, the doctor will use an instrument to remove it.
Update Date: 5/23/2003David Webner, M.D., Department of Family Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT