Bad breath and body odour

A lack of oral and body hygiene is the most obvious cause of “smelly breath” and unpleasant (body) odours, but many diseases can also cause these problems.

Overview

A lack of oral and body hygiene is the most obvious cause of “smelly breath” and unpleasant (body) odours, but many diseases can also cause these problems. Preventive measures include thorough oral and personal hygiene. If necessary, a doctor should be consulted to identify and treat the causes.

Symptoms

  • “Bad breath”
  • Unpleasant, strong-smelling body odours (e.g. sweat)
    • However, everybody also has their “normal”, personal smell
  • Possibly, symptoms of an underlying disease

Causes and treatment

Causes

Bad breath
Body odour
  • Insufficient personal hygiene
  • Decline in own sense of smell (e.g. old age)
  • Disease of the sweat glands
  • Metabolic disorders (diabetes mellitus, liver and kidney failure)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress-related sweating
  • Mental health conditions
  • Food/stimulants/addictive substances (garlic, alcohol, smoking)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Assessment of the odour (smelling)
  • Inspection of oral cavity
  • Further examinations based on suspicion (looking for an underlying disease that may be causing the odour)
Possible therapies
  • Dental restoration by dentist
  • Treatment of an underlying disease
  • Supporting measures, if needed (e.g. Spitex for personal hygiene)

What can I do myself?

  • Bad breath
    • Neutralising and/or disinfecting mouthwashes
    • Thorough daily dental hygiene (see “Caries” for more information)
    • Stimulate flow of saliva by eating slowly and chewing thoroughly
    • Herbal tea (peppermint) improves bad breath
    • Chlorophyll tablets improve bad breath
    • Stop smoking
  • Body odour
    • Regular personal hygiene (shower, bath)
    • Sweat-reducing talcum powder and deodorants
    • Reduce stress (autogenic training, yoga)

When to see a doctor?

  • Dental restoration by dentist
  • Frequent vomiting or regurgitation of food
  • Inflammation/white patches in mouth that won't go away
  • Involuntary weight loss, loss of appetite
  • Frequent/high fever
  • Heavy sweating (particularly at night)
  • “Chemical” body odour
  • Examination to identify organ-specific or mental diseases

Synonyms

bad breath and body odour, bad breath, smelly breath, body odour, halitosis, foetor ex ore, BO

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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