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How to know when your bad breath indicates you may need to seek medical help

How to know when your bad breath indicates you may need to seek medical help

Experts recommend you see a doctor if you suffer with bad breath

If you pick up on the fact that one of your friends is suffering from bad breath, it turns out that it may not simply be a case of them not brushing their teeth or having just drunk coffee.

In fact, scientists are encouraging people to be brave enough to point out their loved ones' halitosis, knowing that it could be an indication of a much more serious medical issue.

While bad breath can be something embarrassing to acknowledge—or even more embarrassing to actually have—apparently, it's always best to get it checked out by a doctor, as something sinister could be cause.

One consultant ENT surgeon this week emphasised to the Daily Mail that, though there can actually be numerous causes for bad breath, people should visit a medical professional if it becomes a "chronic ongoing problem".

Adam Frosh believes the patient should initially raise the issue "with a dentist, and then with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, as it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition."

A medic has warned about the causes of bad breath.
Getty/bymuratdeniz

But what medical condition could cause such an awkward, and often humiliating symptom?

Well, apparently, you can use the different smells picked up in the breath to determine what might be wrong.

If you can smell a sickly sweet, pear drop scent on your loved one's breath, this could be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.

This - which is understood to be the most serious form of halitosis - happens when a patient has type 1 diabetes and is unable to process sugar correctly for energy, due to a lack of insulin.

The body reverts to burning fat for energy when this happens, which in turn creates ketones that cause the pear drop scent in both breath and sweat.

Bad breath could indicate a medical issue.
Getty/Moyo Studio

It is crucial that, when this starts happening, the individual in question sees a doctor as soon as possible, as they could be on the verge of a diabetic coma.

Alternatively, if you notice a fishy scent on your loved one's breath, this could indicate that they are suffering with malfunctioning kidneys.

This scenario also requires quick medical attention, being that kidneys are used for removing damaging waste from our blood.

A mould-esque scent could also indicate that someone is suffering with cirrhosis, which occurs when they have long-term liver damage, often caused by a reliance on alcohol.

In this case, scar tissue takes over the healthy tissue in the liver, preventing it from functioning correctly.

Experts warn patients to see doctors if they have bad breath.
Getty/Simarik

Other causes for halitosis could be acid reflux, which leaves a sour scent, or general bad breath could be triggered by gum disease, which can easily be reversed with good dental hygiene.

"The problem is that people are often reluctant to seek help about bad breath due to embarrassment," Frosh told the publication.

"The other problem is that it isn't the person with bad breath who normally notices it — it is those around them, so detecting the problem tends to rely on the honesty of those around you."

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: Health