Halitosis is commonly known as “bad breath,” characterized by an unpleasant scent emitted when you breathe out of your mouth. In some cases, bad breath may be caused by other health problems, including kidney or gastrointestinal disorders. If unrelated to a specific health condition, bad breath does not pose a serious health risk, but it can cause problems in social situations and personal relationships.

Some health conditions will produce specific types of halitosis:

  • ammonia, fish, or urine odor – chronic kidney failure
  • fruity odor – ketoacidosis in diabetics, a potentially fatal condition
  • feces odor – prolonged vomiting with a bowel obstruction or with a nasogastric tube

Causes of Bad Breath

More common causes of bad breath include:

  • food and beverages
  • poor dental hygiene
  • smoking
  • abscessed tooth
  • large doses of vitamin supplements
  • dentures
  • drugs such as anesthetics and insulin
  • gum disease
  • sinusitis
  • throat infection

Treating Bad Breath

There are plenty of chewing gums and mints on the market to treat temporary halitosis. Proper dental hygiene—brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and possibly using a mouthwash—can curb most cases of bad breath. Fresh parsley and mint leaves are natural solutions to your bad breath.

However, because bad breath could be a sign of a larger problem, see your doctor if your bad breath doesn’t come from an obvious cause like food or smoking or if it doesn’t go away with proper attention to dental hygiene.