Commonly called halitosis, bad breath is related to various conditions, including issues with the sinuses. It often arises after eating certain kinds of food, which can also make the situation worse, no matter what the underlying cause is, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you have bad breath regularly, you should see your dentist or doctor to determine if it is a symptom or complication of a more serious medical problem.
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Bad breath related to your sinuses, or nasal passages, often occurs when your sinuses become blocked, according to the Mayo Clinic. Accompanying symptoms may include a decreased ability to smell and taste, aching teeth and jaws, coughing, difficulty breathing, discolored discharge from your nose and in your throat, pain and tenderness in your facial area and a sore throat. Bad breath together with such symptoms often indicates the presence of inflamed nasal passages, or sinusitis.
Healthy sinuses contain only air, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Your sinuses can contribute to bad breath when they become infected and release substances, generally called nasal discharge, into your nasal passages and the back of your throat, according to the Mayo Clinic. Known as postnasal drip, the condition causes a foul odor in your mouth because it allows bacteria to grow and thrive. Conditions that lead to blocked sinuses, sinusitis and resulting bad breath include swelling inside the nose due to allergies, growths in the nose called polyps and the common cold.
People are more likely to develop ongoing sinusitis and accompanying bad breath if they have abnormal nasal passages, certain diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux, an immune system condition such as cystic fibrosis, sensitivity to aspirin or any type of medical problem that affects the sinuses, including allergies and hay fever. Constant exposure to environmental pollutants, such as smoke from cigarettes, will also increase your risk of developing bad breath related to sinus issues or sinusitis. Moreover, the Mayo Clinic states that approximately 20 percent of individuals with chronic sinusitis suffer from asthma too.
Reducing bad breath related to your sinuses and sinusitis is a matter of treating the underlying condition, namely sinusitis. Relieving acute sinusitis usually requires taking a prescription or store-bought decongestant, or possibly antibiotics in severe cases, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Alleviating chronic sinusitis may involve avoiding known irritants and allergy triggers, using nasal drops or nasal sprays to manage symptoms and using a humidifier and warm compresses to reduce pain and keep air moist. For chronic sinusitis, the Mayo Clinic further recommends drinking a lot of fluids, getting plenty of rest and elevating your head while sleeping to help drain your sinuses and decrease congestion.
Severe cases of chronic sinusitis that do not improve with other treatment, such as medication, may require endoscopic sinus surgery to locate and remove obstructions in your sinus passageways and facilitate draining. If surgery is not necessary, other options for controlling bad breath—whether due to your sinuses or not—include brushing your teeth and your tongue at least twice a day, visiting your dentist every six months to prevent conditions that encourage bad breath and avoiding products with tobacco in them, such as cigarettes. Using mouthwash specifically designed to kill germs may also help reduce bad breath, according to the Cleveland Clinic, although regular mouthwashes may only produce temporary effects.