Q. I want to thank you because your article on a potential cause of bad breath has solved a long-standing problem of mine. No doctor was able to tell me why I had halitosis and standard tests were not useful.
When I read in your column about a blood test for a germ in the stomach that causes ulcers, bad breath and gastritis, I checked with my doctor. He had never heard of this condition but he gave me the blood test and was surprised when it turned up positive. He was so interested in Helicobacter pylori that he told other doctors about it and prescribed antibiotics to kill it.
Now I am fine after years of bad breath. Why aren’t doctors more aware of this infection that causes ulcers and other problems?
A. Bad breath can be a terrible torment, especially if it persists. There are many factors that may contribute, including tooth decay or gum disease. Medical conditions such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney failure can also create chronic halitosis.
Dr. Barry Marshall, one of the world’s leading experts on Helicobacter pylori, believes that this bacterium is responsible for a large proportion of stomach ulcers. Based on his experience he also believes this bug could account for many cases of hard-to-treat bad breath.
The germ theory of ulcers has been around for decades but it took a long time before it achieved widespread acceptance. Dr. Marshall and his pathologist colleague Robin Warren were given the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for their research.
You can learn more about bad breath, heartburn, ulcers and Helicobacter pylori treatment in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.
We don’t know if treating H. pylori will help others overcome bad breath, but we appreciate hearing about your success.