Is bad breath (halitosis) symptomatic of other illnesses?

Joan Haizlip, MSN
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Bad breath (halitosis) is not a serious medical condition.  But halitosis can mean that you have an underlying health problem, like diabetes, kidney disease or a lung infection. It's important to see your dentist regularly and find out if your halitosis is caused from poor oral hygiene or a dental problem. If none of these are the culprit for the halitosis, then you should get checked by your regular medical doctor.   
Bad breath (halitosis) can be a symptom of kidney failure, if your breath has an odor like urine or ammonia. If your breath has a musty odor you may have liver failure. Diabetes can cause your breath to have a smell like nail polish remover. Sinus infections and lung infections can also have symptoms of bad breath (halitosis).
Some diseases have symptoms related to bad breath. Sinus or lung infections, bronchitis, diabetes, and some liver or kidney diseases may be associated with bad breath.

    Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder. Regular checkups allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease or dry mouth. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care physician.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.