In many cases bad breath is related to what you eat and drink. It is also often an indicator of issues within the mouth, such as gum disease. However, it can also be caused by a range of other medical problems elsewhere in the body.

According to WebMD, one such health problem is a chronic lung condition. These can include conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

The site says: “Bad breath can result from a dry mouth or the foods and drinks you consume.

“But gum disease and gingivitis can also contribute to the annoying recurrence of bad breath.

“Beyond your teeth and gums, bad breath that persists can result from certain underlying health problems that require immediate medical attention.”

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And a study, published in the Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science in 2019, linked bad breath with lung conditions.

“Among the diseases causing halitosis nasopharyngeal abscess and lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchiectasis, carcinoma of the larynx, lung abscess, chronic bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung diseases and pneumonia should be mentioned,” it said.

This was backed by UNC Health, which lists both pneumonia and bronchitis as causes of bad breath.

It claims between five and 10 percent of cases of bad breath are due to issues outside of the mouth or nose.



“Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection in your lungs,” it says.

“When the lungs become infected, the air sacs become inflamed and fill up with phlegm or pus.

“This causes serious fits of coughing, and when the odorous phlegm or pus is coughed up, it will cause halitosis.”


It explains: “Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes, the tubes responsible for carrying air to your lungs, get infected and swollen.

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“This causes a severe cough that is accompanied by foul-smelling mucus and bad breath.”


The Jackson Dental Clinic explains that asthma patients often suffer with dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath.

“People with asthma tend to have a hard time breathing and feel as if they can’t get enough oxygen with each breath,” it says.

“Because of this, many asthma patients will breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, since they can get more air into the lungs this way.

“Dry mouth is an oral health condition that may seem like only a minor, uncomfortable nuisance, but the truth is dry mouth can increase the risk of decay, cavities, bad breath, and gum disease.”

Symptoms of a lung condition

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing, coughing and chest tightness becoming severe and constant.
  • Being too breathless to eat, speak or sleep.
  • Breathing faster.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Drowsiness, confusion, exhaustion or dizziness.
  • blue lips or fingers.
  • Fainting.

Whereas the “main” symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough, which may bring up clear, yellow-grey or greenish phlegm.

Other bronchitis symptoms may include:

  • A sore throat
  • A headache
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Aches and pains
  • Tiredness.

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