If you have bad breath, you’ve probably tried breath mints, chewing gum, mouthwashes and improved oral hygiene to cure it. When bad breath remedies aren’t working, you have probably wondered about what causes bad breath and what else you can try to cure it.
You may not realize, but blocked sinus is one of the bad breath causes dentists see often. Post nasal drip bad breath can cause bad taste and is associated with chronic nasal infection.
Well, surprisingly, many common causes of post nasal drip bad breath that have nothing to do with your oral health or hygiene.
One of the culprits is post-nasal drip, caused by a blocked sinus. Although it doesn’t seem to have much to do with bad breath, it’s a frequent cause of halitosis.
How Chronic Nasal Congestion Causes Post-Nasal Drip Bad Breath
Glands in your nose and throat continually produce mucus (one to two quarts a day). Mucus is a thick, wet substance that moistens and cleans the nasal membranes, wets the air, and clears inhaled foreign matter. It also fights infection by trapping and destroying bacteria and viruses.
Your body is designed to clear excess mucus from your nose. The mucus mixes with saliva and drips harmlessly down the back of your throat. Usually, you swallow it without even noticing. However, when your body produces excess or thicker mucus, it’s more noticeable. You are aware of it building in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose. This is called post-nasal drip.
Swallowing problems may also cause solids or liquids to accumulate in the throat. This may complicate, or feel like, post-nasal drip. When the nerves and muscles in the mouth, throat, and food passage (esophagus) aren’t interacting properly. Overflow secretions can spill into the voice box (larynx) and breathing passages (trachea and bronchi). These secretions can cause hoarseness, throat clearing, or coughing.
Some Conditions That Cause Post-Nasal Drip and Bad Breath:
- The common cold or flu (influenza)
- Allergies also called allergic post-nasal drip
- Sinus infection or sinusitis (an inflammation of the sinuses)
- Certain medications, including blood pressure pills or the birth control pill.
- A deviated septum (the septum is the wall that separates the two nostrils, and this may be crooked – ‘deviated’)
Causes of swallowing problems:
- With age, swallowing muscles often lose strength and coordination, making it difficult for even normal secretions to pass smoothly into the stomach.
- During sleep, swallowing occurs less frequently and secretions
- Coughing and vigorous throat clearing is often needed upon waking.
- When nervous or under stress, throat muscles can trigger spasms that make you feel as if you have a lump in your throat
- Frequent throat clearing, which usually produces little or no mucus, can increase the irritation.
- Growths or swelling in the food passage can slow or prevent the movement of liquids and/or solids.
- Reflux (known as GERD or GORD).If you suffer from GERD symptoms, your stomach contents and acid may sometimes back up or splash into the esophagus, causing heartburn, indigestion, and sometimes a sore throat. GERD symptoms may be aggravated by certain foods and drinks, eating large meals and bending or lying down, especially after Some GERD sufferers also have a digestive hernia. This pushes the stomach up through the diaphragm and into the esophagus temporarily or permanently.
Your Throat and Post-Nasal Drip
Although there is usually no infection, post-nasal drip may cause your tonsil and throat to swell, causing soreness, irritation and that ‘lump in the throat’ feeling. Successful treatment of the post-nasal drip will usually clear up these throat symptoms.
Sinusitis and Chronic Nasal Congestion and Bad breath
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses. It may be a short-term, acute infection. However, sinusitis can sometimes be a long-term, chronic condition, complicated by allergies and/or structural problems in the nose. It can cause chronic nasal congestion and greatly affect your quality of life.
Nasal sinuses are located within the cheeks, around and behind the nose. It is believed that their main function is to warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity. They also help us vocalize certain sounds.
The signs and symptoms of sinusitis vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and which sinuses are involved, but symptoms may include:
- Thick, green or yellow colored mucus from the nose or down the back of the throat
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Bad breath/bad taste in the mouth
- Sore throat/cough
- Temperature or shivers (fever)
- Facial congestion (a feeling of fullness) and pain
- Headache/ toothache
- Sensation of pressure that is worse with leaning forward
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Post-nasal drip
Nasal Polyps and Post Nasal Drip
Nasal polyps are soft, jelly-like overgrowths of the sinus lining that look like grapes on the end of a stalk. They do not always cause symptoms, but as they usually grow through the tunnel that connects the sinuses to the nose, they can cause a blocked nose. If the tunnel becomes too blocked, sinus infections can occur.
These infections can cause bad breath due to run-over of mucus – post-nasal drip.
How do I know if I have post nasal drip bad breath?
There are some tell-tale signs that your bad breath is caused by post-nasal drip.
- A frequent need to clear your throat: This is probably the commonest symptom of post-nasal drip. When mucus drains from the sinuses it often collects at the top of the throat, causing hoarseness and irritation.
- Constantly swallowing or a feeling that you have a lump in your throat.
- Continual sore throats that do not develop into illness. Post-nasal drip can cause the cilia (tiny nasal hairs) to stop functioning properly. This causes a collection of crusty mucus in the nasal and throat lining, which in turn causes inflammation and irritation.
- Difficulty in breathing is very common for people with post-nasal drip. Mucus buildup in the nose can make breathing through your nose very difficult, while throat soreness and coughing can make breathing through your mouth difficult too.
All these situations can cause bad breath due to the build-up of microbes, foreign objects, and metabolites.
Remedies and treatment options for post nasal drip bad breath
Treating post-nasal drip is easier if the cause has been identified, as treatment varies depending on the cause.
- Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. These drugs may only provide temporary relief. In cases of chronic sinusitis, surgery to open the blocked sinuses may be required.
- Allergies are managed by avoiding the causes such as foods or pollen in spring. IgE allergy testing and IgG testing for food sensitivities can help to identify sources of allergy.
- Doctors may prescribe medications such as to decrease these reactions. Cromolyn and steroid (cortisone type) nasal sprays, and other forms of steroids. Immunotherapy, either by shots or sublingual drops (drops placed under the tongue) may also be helpful.
- Gastroesophageal reflux can be relieved by:
- elevating the head of the bed six to eight inches
- avoiding foods and beverages for two to three hours before bedtime
- eliminating any trigger foods and liquids (alcohol and caffeine are two common culprits).
- medication to neutralize stomach acid or reduce its production
- a surgical procedure to repair a hiatal hernia
Decongestants may be helpful but should be used with caution as they may aggravate high blood pressure, heart conditions, and thyroid disease. Steroid sprays can be used safely under medical supervision. Oral and injectable steroids rarely produce serious complications in short-term use, but must be monitored carefully when used for over a week, as serious side-effects can occur.
Luckily, there are also some more natural ways to relieve post-nasal drip and, in turn, alleviate the bad breath caused by post-nasal drip.
5 Natural Remedies for Bad Breath caused by Post-Nasal Drip
#1 Gargle with Salt Water
Gargling with salt water is one of the best home remedies to ease post-nasal drip. It helps thin the mucus, making it easier for your body to get rid of it. It also flushes the irritants out of the nasal passages.
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir thoroughly until the salt dissolves.
- Gargle with this solution a few times daily for 2 to 3 days.
#2 Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation, with or without essential oils, can help to control excess mucus production that causes post-nasal drip, but it is not recommended for very small children.
- Boil a hot bowl of water (add a few drops of any essential oil if you wish)
- Drape a large towel over your head and hold your face over the hot water.
- Deeply inhale the steam for about 10 minutes, then blow your nose.
- Do this 2- or 3 times daily until you recover completely.
A warm, steamy shower will also help to thin mucus too.
#3 Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation also helps clear excess mucus and remove irritants from the nasal passage, preventing further infection.
- Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda to 1 cup of warm distilled water.
- Fill a neti pot (a small pot with a spout) with this solution.
- While standing over a sink, tilt your head to one side and squirt the solution into one of your
- Move your head back, forward and side-to-side to help the solution reach your nasal cavities.
- Blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution.
- Repeat the process with the other nostril.
- Do this once daily for a few days and then a few times a week.
Ginger is a natural decongestant with antiviral and antibacterial properties. It helps reduce mucus production and aids clearance. It also alleviates chest congestion, sore throat, common symptoms of post-nasal drip.
- Drink ginger tea 2-3 times a day. To make the tea, put 1 tablespoon of sliced ginger in 1 to 2 cups of water and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Strain the infusion and add a little honey to taste.
- You can also chew raw ginger slices several times a day and add ginger to your cooking.
#5 Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has antihistamine properties and the capsaicin it contains can thin mucus, making it easier to eliminate. It will soothe your irritated throat, too.
- Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a cup of warm water and sip it. Repeat a few times a day.
- Include cayenne pepper in your cooking.
These are all effective, natural ways remedies for a blocked sinus, relieving post-nasal drip and curing bad breath.
If you have bad breath, please see your physician.
Did you try any of these natural remedies? Tell us how you went below.
Do you know someone who suffers from post-nasal drip? Share this article to empower them.
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