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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Breathe smells like alchohol

11/18/2003

Question:

After I eat a breakfast that includes green tea, people tell me that my breath smells like alchohol . This is causing me problems at work. Are there foods that can make your breathe smell like alchohol even if you haven`t had a drink? Could it be a gastro reflux problem or some other problem? I have R.A. and Sjogren`s disease. Thank you very much.

Answer:

Several metabolic conditions and medications can cause an alcohol odor on the breath. When alcohol is present in the body, it is exhaled from the lungs and detected in the breath from the gastrointestinal system. In the absence of alcohol ingestion, some metabolic conditions such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis can result in levels of acetone which when eliminated through the respiration, smell just like alcohol.

In Sjogren`s Syndrome, the immune system destroys moisture producing cells. The decrease in saliva exposes the teeth to cavities and infections. These changes also generate bad breath which could be mis-interpreted as alcohol. Salivary glands can be stimulated to produce more saliva by chewing sugar free gum and eating sugar free candy. Frequent sips of water throughout the day may also be helpful. Your family physician may prescribe a mouth rinse or medication to apply to any inflamed areas in the mouth. It is important for you to follow up with your dentist and family physician to further evaluate this problem.

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Response by:

Deborah L Hoy, CNS Deborah L Hoy, CNS
Clinical Instructor at the College of Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University

Tom Hartwell Pepper, MD Tom Hartwell Pepper, MD
Medical Director of Ohio State University Addiction
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University