Breath odor is the scent of the air you breathe out of your mouth. Unpleasant breath odor is commonly called bad breath.
Bad breath; Halitosis
Bad breath is usually related to poor dental hygiene. Not brushing and flossing regularly causes sulfur compounds to be released by bacteria in the mouth.
Some disorders will produce distinct breath odors. Some examples are:
A fruity odor to the breath is a sign of ketoacidosis, which may occur in diabetes. It is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Breath that smells like feces can occur with prolonged vomiting, especially when there is a bowel obstruction. It may also occur temporarily if a person has a tube placed through the nose or mouth to drain their stomach.
The breath may have an ammonia-like odor (also described as urine-like or "fishy") in people with chronic kidney failure.
Antibiotics may be prescribed for some conditions. For an object in the nose, your provider will use an instrument to remove it.
Murr AH. Approach to the patient with nose, sinus, and ear disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 426.
Stein PS, Miller CS, Fowler CB. Oral disorders. In: Ham RJ, Sloane PD, Warshaw GA, Potter JF, Flaherty E, eds. Primary Care Geriatrics: A Case-Based Approach. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 53.
Michael Kapner, DDS, general and aesthetic dentistry, Norwalk Medical Center, Norwalk, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.