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Breath Smells Like Poop: What To Do?

Jun 10, 2024Oral health

What To Do With Your Breath Smells Like Poop?

There are various factors that can cause bad breath, including poor oral hygiene, tooth infections, frequent vomiting, bowel blockages, and other medical issues.

Discussing dental sensitivity with your dentist can be uncomfortable, and finding solutions for the issue can be complex. Understanding the different causes can help in managing the condition and deciding whether a medical doctor is needed.

Possible causes of bad breath

There are multiple factors that can contribute to bad breath that resembles feces, such as poor oral hygiene and potential liver issues.

Poor hygiene

Poor dental hygiene can lead to bad breath that resembles feces. Failure to maintain regular oral hygiene practices can result in halitosis caused by the accumulation of plaque and bacteria on and between the teeth. Not flossing can lead to food particles remaining in your mouth, which can cause bad breath.

Factors such as poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and improper denture cleaning can lead to bad breath. Failure to practice proper oral hygiene can result in the buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth, causing bad breath.

Bowel obstruction

A blockage in the large or small intestine can result in a dangerous medical emergency called intestinal obstruction.

Intestinal blockages can result in foul breath odor similar to feces. The blockage is not only due to the trapped feces, but also prevents food from passing through. Consuming food during this blockage can lead to fermentation in the digestive system, causing bad breath.

In addition to bad breath, individuals with a blockage in their intestines may also experience:

  • decreased appetite
  • severe bloating
  • abdominal swelling
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • severe abdominal cramps
  • inability to pass gas or stool



Prolonged vomiting can cause dehydration, leading to decreased saliva production and resulting in bad breath. Dehydration can reduce the cleansing effects of saliva in the mouth, leading to potential odor issues. In severe cases, insufficient saliva production can be attributed to dehydration. Vomiting caused by a blocked intestine may result in a foul odor on the breath similar to feces.


Sinus infections

The odor of poop may be present in your breath due to sinus and respiratory infections. Conditions such as bronchitis, viral colds, and strep throat may result in these infections. The migration of bacteria from the nasal passages to the throat can cause an unpleasant odor in your breath. Additionally, sinus infections may present with other symptoms include:

  • nasal drainage that is thick and yellow-green in color
  • a prolonged cold lasting more than 10-14 days
  • low-grade fever
  • irritability and fatigue
  • postnasal drip can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cough, or sore throat
  • swollen eyes
  • headache

Sinus infections are commonly observed in children following a viral cold compared to adults, with both age groups showing similar symptoms.



Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause bad breath with an odor similar to feces. The cause of this is the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. The backflow of acidic liquid can cause irritation to the esophageus, leading to discomfort. Individuals with GERD may experience symptoms such as:

  • occasional mild reflux happening once or twice a week
  • experiencing moderate to severe reflux at least once a week
  • heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest that often occurs after eating and may worsen at night
  • difficulty swallowing
  • vomiting is the expulsion of acidic liquids or partially digested food
  • experiencing a feeling of a lump in the throat
  • experiencing a feeling of blockage in the esophagus
  • laryngitis
  • persistent cough
  • symptoms of asthma that are either new or more severe
  • insomnia or inability to stay asleep



Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition that mainly impacts individuals with type 1 diabetes. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body produces an excess of ketones, leading to an accumulation of acidic compounds in the bloodstream. Immediate medical care and hospitalization are important to address this life-threatening emergency.

Ketoacidosis can cause a foul odor on the breath similar to feces due to dehydration from dry mouth or constant vomiting.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis include the following:

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent urination
  • dry mouth
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • abdominal pain
  • high blood sugar levels
  • high levels of ketones are present in the urine
  • a flushed face
  • fruity-smelling breath
  • rapid breathing
  • fatigue


Liver failure

Acute liver failure requires immediate medical attention due to its sudden onset. An odor of feces in the breath may be noticeable due to diarrhea and dehydration. Chronic liver failure develops gradually and involves unique challenges.

Symptoms of liver failure may include:

  • weight loss
  • jaundice
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • appetite loss
  • nausea
  • itching
  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen)
  • edema (fluid buildup in the legs)


Treatment options

There are different approaches for dealing with bad breath-causing conditions:

Poor oral hygiene: Failure to maintain proper oral hygiene can result in the buildup of plaque, potentially causing bad breath. Regular dental cleanings can help to improve oral health. Effective treatment for gum disease is important in reducing inflammation in the mouth and should not be ignored.

Bowel obstruction: Seeking immediate medical help is crucial when experiencing symptoms of a bowel obstruction. Treatment options for partial obstructions may involve bowel resting with intravenous fluids, while surgical intervention may be necessary for severe cases. Your healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics, pain relief, or anti-nausea medication as needed.

Vomiting: The treatment for vomiting is based on identifying the underlying causes. Viral infections and food poisoning typically require waiting for symptoms to resolve. Treatment for severe vomiting may include anti-nausea medication and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.

Sinus infections: Sinus infections typically require a doctor’s prescription for antibiotics to treat the infection. Additionally, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication may be required to relieve any discomfort.

GERD: Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are commonly used to treat GERD. Treatment options for acid reflux can include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or medications to support the function of the lower esophageal sphincter. Avoiding trigger foods is recommended for individuals with GERD to manage their symptoms effectively. Surgery may be considered in rare cases as a final option.

Ketoacidosis: Patients hospitalized with ketoacidosis will receive a variety of treatments to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, which may include insulin therapy, IV fluids, and electrolyte replacement. Antibiotics may be prescribed in cases where ketoacidosis is caused by an infection or another medical condition.

Liver failure: Treatment for acute liver failure often includes antidote administration for poisoning cases, and in severe situations, a liver transplant may be required. In cases of irreparable damage, your doctor may recommend the second option. Treatment for chronic liver failure, such as that caused by cirrhosis, may include addressing alcohol dependence, taking hepatitis medication, receiving weight loss recommendations, or taking drugs to manage causes and symptoms of cirrhosis.

How to treat at home

Simple home remedies can help improve breath odor in minor cases. Effective treatments for reducing bad breath include:

  • maintaining good oral hygiene involves cleaning your teeth after every meal
  • flossing daily
  • using balancing mouthwash daily
  • using a tongue scraper helps to remove bacteria and food particles
  • chewing fresh parsley or mint leaves
  • chewing sugar-free mint gum for a refreshing taste or sugarless mints for freshening your breath
  • refrain from smoking and consuming foods that may lead to unpleasant breath
  • drinking plenty of water and using a mouthwash designed for dry mouth are important for maintaining oral health
  • oil pulling involves rinsing the mouth with coconut oil or another oil for 5-10 minutes before spitting it out

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