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WHAT'S MAKING YOUR BREATH SMELL? Does your mouth have a peculiar odour? If so, it could be the sign of a more serious health problem.

Byline: Natasha Holt

IF YOUR breath isn't minty-fresh, it's most likely due to something you ate or because you didn't brush your teeth properly.

But occasionally, smells carried on the breath can be caused by a more serious health problem.

Dr Harold Katz, a dentist specialising in bacteriology, said: "Almost all bad breath odours are caused by anaerobic bacteria living in the back of the tongue, throat and tonsils, which break down proteins in our food.

"However, when someone isn't entirely healthy, it can be harder for these bacteria to break down proteins as they should, leaving particular smells behind."

If you have any of these issues, it's definitely worth talking to your dentist or GP.

If your breath smells of... PEAR DROPS It could be... DIABETES A sign of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes is a faint smell of pear drops, or ammonia, on the breath.

This occurs because a lack of insulin means the body can't use sugar for energy and starts to break down fat instead. Waste products called ketones build up and are exhaled.

Freshen up: See your GP for a urine test, particularly if you have excessive thirst, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss and the need to pass urine more frequently.

If your breath smells of...

MOTHBALLS It could be... SINUS TROUBLE People with sinus problems often emit a scent reminiscent of mot hballs.

Dr Katz, who is also the found er of The Breath Co oral-health produ cts, explained: "Mucus formed when you have a stuffy nose or congested throat contains very dense proteins. The se proteins, which are hard for the body to break down, contain that very distinctive odour."

Freshen up: Try over-the-counter decongestants or see your GP if you think you may have sinusitis.

If your breath smells of...

SOUR MILK It could be... YOUR DIET High-protein, no-carb diets can leave you with foul-smelling breath. As the you with foul-smelling breath. As the body has fewer carbs to turn into energy, body has fewer carbs to turn into energy, it begins to burn fat and proteins and it begins to burn fat and proteins and produces this unplea sant smell. produces this unplea sant smell.

Freshen up: No amount of No amount of brushing, flossing or mouthwash can brushing, flossing or mouthwash can get rid of it, so you might want to get rid of it, so you might want to reintroduce more carbs into your diet. reintroduce more carbs into your diet.

If your breath smells of...

ROTTING FLESH It could be... TONSILLITIS Dr Katz said: "When tonsils are dr Katz said: "When tonsils are infected and inflamed , it makes it infected and inflamed , it makes it difficult for the bacteria at the back of difficult for the bacteria at the back of the tongue to break down chemicals as the tongue to break down chemicals as usual. Sulphur-produ cing bacteria usual. Sulphur-produ cing bacteria breed deep in the tonsils and the breed deep in the tonsils and the infected ones can't break it down. infected ones can't break it down.

"It's this sulphuric smell that "It's this sulphuric smell that makes the breath smell so bad when makes the breath smell so bad when someone is suffering from tonsillitis or someone is suffering from tonsillitis or tonsil stones."

In rare cases, this smell could also In rare cases, this smell could also indicate cirrhosis of the liver. indicate cirrhosis of the liver.

Freshen up: Most cases of tonsillitis Most cases of tonsillitis clear up without treat ment within clear up without treat ment within a week. Drink plenty of water and a week. Drink plenty of water and try gargling with a mi ld antiseptic try gargling with a mi ld antiseptic solution.

If your breath smells of... FISH It could be... KIDNEY PROBLEMS Nitrogen is the main culprit when it comes to giving out fishy smells. If your breath has a fishy odour, your kidneys might be to blame.

Dr Katz said: "If your kidneys are not functioning properly, there will be a build-up of nitrogen."

Freshen up: If you notice a fishy smell on your breath, see your GP who can arrange a kidney function test.

If your breath smells of...

FAECES It could be... INFECTED GUMS Rotting tissue can mimic the smell of faeces because of the production of chemicals by anaerobic bacteria.

Dr Katz says: "The No1 infection in modern humans is infected gums. So the smell of faeces can just as easily come from a lack of flossing as from a blockage in the bowel."

Freshen up: Make sure you floss and brush carefully twice a day. Visit your dentist or hygienist regularly.

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WHIFF OF TROUBLE Bad breath can point to health problems. Picture: Getty
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 24, 2015
Words:792
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