Common Health Issues That Cause Bad Breath

People are often quick to blame bad breath on the usual suspects like onions, garlic and coffee. But sometimes these are not the culprits. In fact, they’re not even necessarily food-related. Take a look at some not-so-obvious sources of bad breath:

Stomach Issues

Poor digestion, constipation or bowel disorders can often cause the scent of whatever foods you’ve recently consumed to make their way back to your mouth. Another common digestive problem stems from an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut; foods aren’t properly broken down, resulting in acid reflux, yeast overgrowth or fermentation—a.k.a. bad breath. To correct this imbalance, use a probiotic.


Sometimes when your nose starts running, your breath can have people running, too—in the opposite direction. That’s because excess mucus will often drip down the back of your throat, which basically creates an open invitation for bacteria to gather and multiply, resulting in bad breath. In the case of sinus infections, mucus stops circulating, builds up and allows bacteria to overtake your mouth with its foul odor. If you think your bad breath is the result of a sinus issue, it could be time to call your doctor—he might encourage a visit to a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat.


Because diabetes causes your blood-sugar levels to fluctuate, it can also leave your mouth vulnerable to bad breath-causing periodontal diseases. The extra glucose on your teeth and gums increases bacteria, which can lead to gum disease, gingivitis and infections. This is when the situation can get a lot more dire than just bad breath—the inflammation caused by these diseases may affect your metabolism and worsen your diabetes.


Sometimes the things we take to solve one problem wind up creating another. In this case, certain medications including those for blood pressure, antihistamines and antidepressants, can cause xerostomia, or dry mouth. Dry mouth, because of its penchant for bringing saliva production to a halt, is a big, well-known contributor to bad breath. Some medicines may also release chemicals into the body that carry their own scent directly to your mouth.