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Throat Discomfort Accompanied by Bad Breath

Q: For the past week I've been having the strangest sensation, like something is stuck in my throat. And the feeling won't quit no matter how much I cough and clear my throat. I asked my husband to take a peek to see if my tonsils looked fine and he said everything looked normal, but he seemed worried. I had to drag it out of him, but he finally admitted that my breath stunk. Days have passed and I'm still dealing with this choked-up feeling and bad breath that I just can't seem to freshen. Could the two be related?

Dr. Donnica:
Yes-and it's not uncommon.  Your symptom set sounds like it's originating in your nose. Ironically, many people with nasal problems ignore them because they don't experience stuffiness or congestion.  Frequent throat-clearing and light coughing are clues to post-nasal drip (triggered by allergies, colds or sinus problems). Excessive nasal secretions that drain to the back of the throat can cause the sensations--and odor--you're experiencing.  This mucous provides the perfect breeding ground for naturally occurring bacteria that cause bad breath. It can even lead to tonsilloliths, plaque-like accumulations of phlegm and bacteria that get lodged in your tonsils and give off an offensive odor. While drinking more water and/or using saline nasal sprays can thin secretions and make you feel more comfortable, these steps won't eliminate tonsilloliths or cure underlying nasal causes. So call your doctor as soon as you can for a diagnosis and course of treatment.

Created: 5/30/2006  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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