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How Sinus Issues Can Cause Bad Breath

Some people brush, floss, scrub and rinse multiple times every day but still notice that their mouth smells a bit “funkier” than they would like. This condition can tend to persist for longer than most people would like, and it could be indicative of underlying problems. If you find that you have chronic bad breath, the cause may surprisingly not be coming from your mouth at all, but your nose.

Bacterial Blues

The medical condition known as “halitosis” — or less formally bad breath — is almost always a result of some sort of decomposition going on in your mouth area. Bits of food stuck between teeth or lingering on your tongue and throat attract bacteria, which break down the food and release sulphurous or methane-like gases as a by-product of digestion. This off-gassing can be quite potent and even detrimental to social or professional lives.

Some people are perplexed because they do everything they can to get rid of food from their mouth, yet they still have this by-product of decomposition. If bad breath is mixed with other symptoms, the underlying cause could be other parts of your otolaryngological (ear, nose and throat) system.

Usually, an infection in your sinuses (sinusitis) or lower passages (rhinitis) is actually to blame. Bacteria hangs out in these hard-to-reach places and sends colonies or by-product gases through your breath. There are multiple conditions that can cause this type of persistent halitosis.

Dry Mouth or Sinuses

Your body tends to have a natural “wash” cycle throughout the day and when you sleep. In your mouth, this is accomplished with sanitizing chemicals in saliva. For your eyes and nose, mucus is secreted that contains natural cleansing compounds and pushes out unwanted debris. When you have an infection or allergies, your mucus passages and secreting tissues become inflamed, halting the regular flow of mucus.

Once this happens, bacteria that would normally be washed away or soaked into submission can now flourish on whatever substances are left for it to digest. Many people may notice this effect when waking up in the morning or finishing exercise, only to have it become less noticeable after drinking a much-needed glass of water.

Post Nasal Drip

Post nasal drip is a condition almost identical to the one above. The only difference is that instead of mucus being stopped up completely, it drains at the back of the nose (hence the “post nasal” name) and drips down your throat and on the back of your tongue. This type of mucus tends to be rich with bacteria and substances for the bacteria to digest.

In most cases, post nasal drip is a common cause of persistent and mysterious halitosis that lingers even after multiple teeth and tongue brushings. People who suffer from this condition must restore regular nasal passage flow by irrigating their sinuses, taking antihistamine anti-inflammatory medicines or enjoying a steamy shower.


Sinusitis and rhinitis may be caused by a minor problem like seasonal allergies, but if the condition persists, it could be a symptom of an infection. Swollen sinus and nasal passages create both dry mouth and post nasal drip conditions, along with the added effect that “lumps” of bacterial colonies are hiding out inside your sinuses. These colonies exacerbate bad breath and make it hard to combat, even after addressing symptoms like post nasal drip.

If you are a brush-happy person who still suffers from halitosis, it could be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem. Visit Atlanta’s ENT experts to address your possible sinus inflammation or infection and put a stop to that funky breath.

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