Is Your Bad Breath a Sign of Something More?

Bad breath, or halitosis as it's sometimes known, is undoubtedly an embarrassing problem. Luckily, it's normally down to one of two things: poor oral hygiene or dietary causes. Because of that, it's generally easy to control.

Sometimes, however, it's not as simple. And, while there are a range of lifestyle factors that may be behind breath that smells bad, it could be more than that.

When bad breath just won't go away, despite being careful with food and looking after teeth, it's possible there might be a medical condition behind it. If you're worried you might have one of these problems, see a dentist or doctor as soon as you can to get checked out.

Sleep apnoea

Overnight, the mouth stops producing saliva, which leads to it drying out and enabling the faster growth of bacteria. This is why you may notice a bit of bad breath in the mornings. With sleep apnoea, however, the problem is exacerbated.

Sleep apnoea sufferers stop breathing for brief periods while they sleep, which leads to poor quality sleep and other health problems. Because of the breathing difficulties, people with sleep apnoea tend to have their mouth open a lot overnight, which dries it out more. If you have particularly bad morning breath and feelings of tiredness during the day, it's worth getting tested for this condition.

Gastroesophagal reflux disease (GERD or GORD)

GERD sufferers are usually aware of the problem, since it causes a lot of discomfort during the day and night. What they might not know, however, is the connection between GERD and bad breath. It's all to do with food not being digested properly, causing smells to rise from the digestive system and out through the mouth. Sometimes, GERD has no other symptoms, and bad breath can reveal its existence.


Diabetics with high blood sugar levels have an excess of glucose in their bodies. And glucose is something that bacteria love to eat. This can increase the levels of bad breath-causing bacteria, so try to keep your sugar levels under control for the sake of your overall health.

Stomach problems

Bad breath can reveal a number of different stomach conditions. It could be letting you know you have gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining. You may also have a stomach ulcer or even stomach cancer. Although it's probably not something serious, you should seek medical attention, particularly if you have any other stomach-related symptoms.