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The Link Between Acid Reflux and Bad Breath

acid reflux and bad breath

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Chronic acid reflux is a medical condition also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux is the stomach contents backflow into the esophagus such as undigested food, and gastric acids. This can lead to severe bad breath. When a person regularly experiences acid reflux, a doctor diagnoses gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this article, we will discuss the link between acid reflux and bad breath.

Acid Reflux and Bad Breath

A defective or relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is the principal cause of acid reflux in most cases. The LES is a muscle, like a valve that makes up a barrier between your oesophagus and your stomach. When the LES works correctly, it opens up to let food reach the stomach as you swallow, and then it closes fast. A defective LES remains open, which allows acids to flow back into your throat.

Regurgitation of the contents of your stomach can cause heartburn and a bitter taste in your mouth. Also, because of your symptoms, you might also feel bad breath. You can manage bad breath not only by handling your GERD but also by making a few adjustments.

Symptoms

GERD symptoms include:

GERD is a chronic disease which can cause bad breathing and teeth problems. Anyone who regularly experiences acid reflux should seek medical attention (1).

Drugs to Treat GERD

Different over-the-counter drugs can treat GERD:

  • proton pump inhibitors
  • histamine blockers (H2 blockers)
  • calcium carbonate (TUMS)
  • aluminium hydroxide
  • magnesium (Mylanta)

Some chewable antacids contain ingredients that freshen the air and can reduce all symptoms at once. Other GERD drugs and medicines can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands don’t create enough saliva. It can be sticky, and it can trigger bad breath too. Ask your doctor for dry mouth remedies and side effects of all medicines you take.

Diet to Treat GERD

You can also ease your GERD symptoms with a proper diet. Changing how and what you eat will help ease symptoms of GERD and bad breath. Many foods can worsen acid reflux by calming the LES or by increasing stomach acidity. Some can trigger bad breath.

These are foods you may want to restrict or avoid:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • citrus fruits
  • tomato products
  • peppermint
  • spicy foods
  • chocolate
  • fried or fatty foods
  • alcohol
  • caffeine

To prevent bad breath, eat foods high in fibre. Fiber allows digestion to run smoothly, so there is less risk of reflux and obstruction. Also, fibrous foods keep you feeling full longer and may help you lose weight. GERD is associated with overweight, so speak to your doctor about weight loss to relieve acid reflux and heartburn.

Losing excess weight also reduces the risk of other chronic conditions, which is good for your overall health. Get plenty of water to refresh your breath during the day. Water is less likely to disturb your stomach or weaken your LES than other drinks. It also helps to wash away bacteria which can cause bad breath. Be sure to choose still water instead of carbonated water. As in certain cases, carbonation will increase symptoms of heartburn.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat Bad Breath

Changes in lifestyle can help avoid reflux, which can help your breath remain fresh. However, if you are a smoker, stop smoking. Smoking itself induces bad breath. In addition, nicotine products induce relaxation of your LES, allowing acid reflux into your oesophagus. Also, smoking raises the risk of mouth, nose, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver and colon cancer.

Other GERD home remedies include:

  • stop smoking
  • don’t overeat
  • eat slowly
  • don’t sleep after eating
  • avoid tight clothing
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • use non-mint chewing gum
  • use 8 inches wedge pillow

People with GERD can typically manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. Speak to your doctor if the lifestyle changes don’t help the symptoms. Your doctor may recommend acid reflux surgery.

Related: Reflux In Children: Symptoms, And Treatment

The Bottom Line

Bad breath is the symptom of GERD. People with GERD can typically manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. Speak to your doctor about improvements in diet and drugs that could reduce your acid reflux and the associated bad breath.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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