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Bad breath

MagazineApril 1999 (Vol. 10 Issue 1)Bad breath

I suffer from chronic sinusitis and, along with this condition, bad breath

I suffer from chronic sinusitis and, along with this condition, bad breath. My dentist has ruled out any problem with my mouth or teeth and I have run out of ideas as to how to best deal with the problem. Any suggestions? JH, Oban, Scotland..........

Gum disease is rarely the cause of bad breath. It's more likely that your sinus problem holds the key to your halitosis. Mouth bacteria are anaerobic meaning they thrive in airless conditions. When your mouth is closed, oxygen rich saliva helps to keep bacteria at bay. But because of your sinus condition, you are probably breathing through your mouth, providing bacteria with ideal conditions in which to thrive.

Almost anything that dries the mouth can produce bad breath. Some medications, such as the antihistamines and decongestants which sinusitis sufferers often use, can make the problem worse since they dry the mouth further. You can help keep your mouth moist by chewing gum or always keeping a bottle of water handy (preferably with a squeeze of lemon juice in it).

Mouthwashes don't provide long term relief from halitosis since they cannot kill the bacteria which usually reside under layers of plaque and mucous. Instead, they simply provide a short term mask for the odour. What's more, the alcohol contained in many mouthwashes will dry the mouth out, further exacerbating the problem.

Do what you can to clear up your sinus infection since some are caused by bacteria which produce their own foul smelling sulphur gases. Avoid antibiotics if you can. Instead, boost your intake of natural bactericides, such as garlic and onions (yes, even for bad breath!), cayenne, golden seal and echinacea. Bioflavonoids (like quercetin), essential fatty acids and carotenoids block the enzymes involved in mucous production and inflammation.

These should all be made a part of your diet either through supplements or by increasing your intake of fresh raw vegetables, seeds and oily fish. Sinusitis can also be caused by food intolerance and allergy, so you might consider trying an exclusion diet for a while and monitoring how your sinuses respond. Dairy products are the most likely culprits.


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