27 February 2007

Bad breath, bad sign

Persistent bad breath could be a symptom of a bacterium linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.

Persistent bad breath could be a symptom of a bacterium linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.

The European Journal of Internal Medicine published the findings of a research team from Baskent University in Turkey who discovered that halitosis was one of the most common symptoms in patients diagnosed with Helicobacter pylori infection.

Halitosis: a valid indication?
Researchers now hope that halitosis “may be a valid indication” that a person has H. pylori infection. Halitosis could act as an early-warning signal, which will help doctors to speedily prescribe drugs to eliminate the bacterium.

Research leader Dr Ender Serin and his team found that bad breath is a "frequent but treatable symptom" of H. pylori infection. The most well-known symptoms of H. pylori infection are pain, bloating or indigestion.

The Turkish team set out to measure the frequency of halitosis before and after eradication therapy for the bacterium.

Bad breath is third on the list
The study consisted of 148 people with dyspepsia – a type of indigestion – and halitosis. Participants all received a treatment to kill off the bug. Four weeks later their symptoms were assessed again.

They found that before treatment, more than 60% of the participants had halitosis making it the third most common symptom behind bloating and pain.

Once eradication therapy was completed, many patients reported that their bad breath had disappeared.

"In patients with confirmed H. pylori eradication, the most successfully resolved symptoms were halitosis and hunger-like pain," the researchers report.

Possible link
Many other gastroenterologists have never considered the possible link between halitosis and gut infection, because bad breath is a subjective thing, everyone’s breath smells to a certain extent at some time or another.

H. pylori infection can cause ulcers, gastritis (chronic stomach inflammation) and may increase the risk of stomach cancer. Antibiotics and drugs called proton pump inhibitors can clear up the infection. – (Health24)

Read more:
peptic ulcers, heartburn and diet
The consequences of the H. pylori infection


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