Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterised by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin. It is estimated that over 4 million people in the UK are living with diabetes. The common symptoms of the condition include increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss. Other symptoms include increased hunger, feeling tired, and having sores that take a long time to heal. If a person has a smelly breath it could mean they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes-related halitosis is caused by either a periodontal disease or having high levels of ketones in the blood.
Ketones are substances that the body makes if the cells don’t get enough glucose. Ketones can show up in the blood or urine.
High ketone levels may indicate diabetic ketoacidosis. When the body can’t make insulin, the cells don’t receive the glucose they need for fuel. To compensate, the body switches to burning fat.
Burning fat instead of sugar produces ketones, which builds up in the blood and urine. Having high ketone levels often causes bad breath.
ITV This Morning’s Doctor Chris Steele said: “Smell can indicate various conditions in the body.
“The smell on the breath is similar to rotten apples or to pear drops and nail varnish remover.”
Diabetes is one of the main reasons for bad breath halitosis, but for many the link to bad breath and diabetes is often unknown.
Individuals with halitosis and diabetes have to continually be watchful of their blood sugar. The best way to ensure blood sugars are kept at a healthy levels is to maintain a healthy diet.
Since the body does not produce insulin in people with diabetes, eating foods that are high in artificial sugars should be avoided.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said on their website: “Too much glucose in your blood form diabetes can cause pain, infection, and other problems in your mouth.
“Glucose is present in your saliva. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow.
“These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. You should check your mouth for signs of problems with diabetes.
“If you notice any problems, see your dentist right away.”
For a person experiencing bad breath due to diabetes complications, it’s important to brush the teeth at least twice a day, drink plenty of water to keep the mouth moist, visit a dentist regularly and follow their treatment recommendations.
Blood sugar levels should be kept in a healthy range, don’t smoke and use sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate saliva.
If you want to ensure fresh breath all day drink as much water as you can, especially if you have diabetes.
Exercising at least three times a week ensures water levels are topped up as a person will be more compelled to drink water when exercising.
If you are still experiencing bad breath you should speak with your dentist or GP.