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Unpleasant sour smell from the mouth: why it arises and how to get rid

The problem of fetid odor from the mouth is often the cause of constant discomfort, the appearance of complexes and even the limitation of communication with surrounding people. But few realize that sour smell from the mouth can be the result of some diseases, sometimes quite serious. How to recognize the disease? Is the sour smell always an unfavorable sign?

Causes of the sour smell from the mouth

In most people, a sour smell is one of the manifestations of the pathology of the digestive system, namely:

  • peptic ulcer of stomach and duodenum;
  • esophageal reflux disease;
  • cardiospasm (cardiac achalasia);
  • hyperacid gastritis and the like.

In addition to problems with digestion, an acidic odor can be caused by dental disorders - for example, hidden caries or periodontitis.

Nevertheless, sour smell from the mouth is not always considered a manifestation of serious pathology. Quite often, we ourselves are to blame for our own problems - including, in particular, the problem of an unpleasant smell. There are certain risk factors that contribute to the appearance of an acidic odor: if these causes are eliminated, then the smell will disappear by itself.

Risk factors

Let's list the main risk factors:

  • Sharp transition to a strict diet, or fasting. In this case, the sour smell is the result of a sharp drop in blood glucose and increased production of ketones that are released with exhaled air.
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth or dysbacteriosis. Such drugs include hormones, diuretics, antibiotics, allergy drugs and antidepressants.
  • Harmful habits - especially smoking and alcohol abuse.
  • Constant stress, overstrain, a state of constant fear or anxiety.


Most often, the appearance of an acidic odor is explained by the problems of the digestive system, which is a significant reason for visiting a doctor. Diseases that can cause this symptom are serious enough, and it is not worth delaying with their diagnosis and treatment.

The sour smell often appears together with a sour taste, which is considered a bright sign of a violation of gastric acidity: the esophagus enters the oral cavity of the mouth.

If the sour smell is combined with thirst, dry skin and mucous membranes, you can suspect such conditions:

  • metabolic disorders (you need to contact the endocrinologist);
  • violations of drinking regime and water balance (you need to drink enough water).

In addition, an acidic odor can be troubling during pregnancy, which is associated with a sharp change in the hormonal background and with the pressure of the growing uterus on the digestive organs.

Symptoms of the sour smell from the mouth

Sour odor from a mouth in a plenty of cases specifies in diseases of digestive system - an ulcer, a gastritis and some other pathologies. And the appearance of an unpleasant aroma is almost always accompanied by other signs of such pathologies. It can be pain in the stomach, periodic nausea, sour belch, fatigue, successive constipation and diarrhea.

The appearance of an acidic odor can be caused by diseases of the oral cavity - for example, gingivitis, caries, periodontitis. Additional signs of these diseases are bleeding and redness of the mucosa, pain in the teeth, wavering and hypersensitivity of the teeth, frequent inflammation of the gums, abscesses.

If we consider dental reasons more widely, then one of the infrequent causes of the appearance of sour smell from the mouth is the installation of metal crowns prone to oxidation. Such crowns, when in contact with certain food products, can be oxidized and cause an unpleasant odor.

First signs

It is the unpleasant sour smell coming from the mouth that is the first sign of pathology. The smell can be constant, or appear periods - in some patients it occurs on an empty stomach, or immediately after a meal.

One of the important symptoms is that even a thorough cleaning of the teeth with the use of fresheners and mouthwash does not help to remove the unpleasant odor, or it eliminates it only for a short time.

The smell of sour milk from the mouth

The distinct smell of sour milk from the mouth in most cases is a consequence of nutritional errors. For example, if a person adheres to a diet with increased intake of protein products, while eating few carbohydrates, then the body experiences a considerable load, which is manifested as an unpleasant odor of sour milk from the mouth.

Neither thorough cleaning of the teeth, nor additional rinsing of the oral cavity can correct this situation. The smell is normalized only if you balance your diet and use a sufficient amount of complex carbohydrates.

The smell of sour cabbage from the mouth

Sometimes people complain about the smell of sour cabbage from the mouth, despite the fact that they did not consume cabbage. Such a sign can accompany diseases associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity, lipid metabolism, etc.

In order to clarify the nature of the pathology, it is necessary to undergo a complete diagnostic examination by an endocrinologist.

Sour odor from an adult

The main provocators of the appearance of an acidic odor in an adult are microbes anaerobes - that is, bacteria that live and reproduce without the presence of oxygen. Such microbes can live closer to the root of the tongue, on the surface and in the folds of the tonsils, in the nasopharynx. The main function of such microorganisms is to break down the proteins coming from food.

If the bacterial balance is disturbed, the microbes may not perform their work correctly, which leads to the appearance of a specific flavor from the mouth.

In other cases, an acidic odor can be the result of a disturbance in the functioning of the stomach.

Sour odor from the mouth of a child

The smell of acid from the mouth of a child can be observed in such painful conditions:

  • with ARVI or fungal lesions of the oral mucosa;
  • at disturbances of work of digestive system;
  • with helminthiases;
  • with disturbed metabolic processes.

To clarify the situation, pediatric consultation will help, because the child, in addition to the appearance of an unpleasant smell, will necessarily be present and other symptoms that will help determine the presence of pathology.

Sour smell from the mouth of the baby

The appearance of an acidic smell in a baby often causes parents to worry - is everything ok with the baby? Sometimes serious reasons for such anxiety may not be: simply the digestive system of the baby is still imperfect, and it is difficult to digest some of the food ingredients to the child's body.

If such a child feeds exclusively on the mother's milk, then she should carefully review her diet.

If the baby is on artificial feeding, then you can try to change the mixture - perhaps for a child it is too heavy.

Additional symptoms - such as vomiting, frequent loose stools (or vice versa - constipation), frequent colic and bloating should be a good reason for visiting the pediatrician.

What's bothering you?

Complications and consequences

Sour odor from the mouth, in the first place, creates a social barrier to its owner. Unpleasant odor negatively affects the quality of life, and sometimes even leads to depression and closure.

As for the health consequences, it all depends on the cause of the sour smell from the mouth. Only on the basis of this can we judge the severity of the disease and the possibility of further complications.

Diagnostics of the sour smell from the mouth

Determine the cause of sour odor from the mouth and clarify its origin (oral or associated with diseases of internal organs) can be by simple tests:

  • test, during which a little plaque is scraped off the far surface of the tongue and its odor is estimated;
  • A test with an assessment of the smell of plaque removed from the interdental spaces;
  • a wrist test: a little saliva is applied to the hand and after a few seconds the odor is evaluated.

Analyzes allow to determine the intensity of odor by evaluating the content of volatile compounds in exhaled air and saliva. 24 hours before the test, you need to stop taking antibiotics, give up sharp and smoked food, do not brush your teeth and do not use oral fresheners.

In addition, you should take a blood test for sugar.

If it is suspected that the sour smell is caused by diseases of internal organs or by malfunctions of metabolic processes, the appropriate instrumental diagnostics is appointed:

  • fibrogastroscopy;
  • Ultrasound of the abdominal cavity;
  • radiography of the lungs;
  • gastroduodenoscopy;
  • colonoscopy.

What do need to examine?

Differential diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is conducted between such diseases:

  • dental pathology (gingivitis, periodontitis, periodontitis, candidiasis of the oral mucosa);
  • pathology of the gastrointestinal tract (gastritis with high acidity, peptic ulcer, reflux esophagitis);
  • pathology of the endocrine system (diabetes mellitus, disturbance of water-electrolyte metabolism).

Who to contact?

Treatment of the sour smell from the mouth

In order to get rid of sour odor from the mouth, you need to determine the cause of its appearance and direct the treatment to eliminate the underlying pathology (gastrointestinal illness, oral cavity, ENT organs, metabolic processes, etc.).

Be sure to make an appointment with a dentist: cure sick teeth, gums, remove tartar, etc.

The next step is to stabilize the digestive system. We need to revise our food preferences, increase the share of raw plant foods in the diet, reduce the consumption of harmful foods and sweets.

It is necessary to abandon cigarettes and spirits, as well as from the habit of gorging for the night.

You can try to eliminate the sour smell in such ways:

  • chew a few grains of coffee or anise seeds;
  • rinse your mouth with antiseptics - you can use Chlorhexidine or Triclosan, or special fresheners of the mouth;
  • chew refreshing chewing gum, but not more than 10-15 minutes.


Lower the severity of sour odor from the mouth can be, using antiseptic drugs:

  • Triclosan is a phenol that has a strong antibacterial effect. Triclosan neutralizes yeast fungi, inhibits the activity of gram (+) and gram (-) microorganisms, has a harmful effect on other types of microbes. With frequent use of Triclosan, tartar deposition is possible.
  • Chlorhexidine is used in 0.05% dilution. Chlorhexidine rinses the oral cavity twice a day: in the morning and at night. Important point: rinse should last at least 1 minute.
  • Cetylpyridine is an antimicrobial drug that is often used in ENT practice. A good effect gives Cetylpyridine in combination with an equivalent amount of olive oil.
  • If the sour smell is associated with a violation of the digestive processes, the doctor may recommend the use of such drugs:
  • Phosphalugel - with increased acidity of gastric juice take 1-2 packs up to 3 times a day, after meals and at bedtime. Taking the drug in large amounts can lead to constipation.
  • Creon is used for chronic pathologies of the digestive system, in individually selected dosages. Side effects during treatment with the drug occur rarely and are expressed in dyspepsia or an allergic reaction.
  • Almagel is an anti-acid agent, which is taken 1-2 h. Half an hour before meals and at night. Long-term use of the drug (more than 2 weeks) can lead to constipation and drowsiness.
  • Rennie is an anti-acid and gastroprotective agent. Tablets in an amount of 1-2 pcs. Retained in the oral cavity until complete resorption. The maximum daily amount of the drug is 16 tablets. Frequent or prolonged use of Rennie can lead to a disorder of stool and hypercalcemia.


In order to always keep the breath fresh and clean, the body needs vitamins:

  • Vitamin A provides a stable function of salivary glands, strengthens the gums and teeth.
  • Vitamins of group B serve as an excellent prevention of caries and gum disease.
  • Ascorbic acid strengthens the gingival tissue, prevents the formation of dental deposits and the development of inflammatory processes in the oral cavity.
  • Vitamin E strengthens the periodontium and bone tissue.
  • Vitamin K improves the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, eliminates bleeding gums.
  • Vitamin PP interferes with the development of an inflammatory reaction in the oral cavity.
  • Vitamin D is responsible for the quality of bone tissue, for the formation of dentin and the enamel layer.

Physiotherapeutic treatment

Physiotherapy is rarely used to eliminate acid sour breath: before turning to this method of treatment, you need to make sure that the body lacks acute inflammatory processes. If this is not taken into account, then unforeseen complications can arise.

Physiotherapy will help improve the nutrition of tissues in the system of ENT organs, strengthen local immunity, stop the reproduction and development of most pathogenic anaerobic bacteria.

Most often with acidic odor from the mouth, the following procedures are used:

  • ultrasound;
  • electrophoresis with medicines;
  • electromagnetic beams;
  • light therapy.

The choice of an effective procedure directly depends on the initial cause of the appearance of an acidic odor, so this question is decided by the doctor after the final diagnosis is made.

Alternative treatment

Inflorescences of dried cloves can help with an acidic smell from the mouth. The benefit is the antiseptic properties of the plant - it's enough to put 1-2 cloves of a carnation into your mouth and chew it for a few minutes, then spit it out. Similarly, tea from cloves acts. For its preparation take half a teaspoon of green tea and 2-3 cloves, pour boiling water and insist 5 minutes. They drink like ordinary tea.

Well relieves the sour odor of parsley - it should be chewed for several minutes with an unpleasant odor. If you do not have parsley, you can chew a few needles or fennel seeds.

Many people are perfectly helped by the usual green apple - it should be eaten on an empty stomach, with the appearance of an unpleasant acid in the exhaled air.

Herbal Treatment

A good effect is rinsing the oral cavity with herbal infusions and decoctions. For example, you can use the infusion of alder leaves: 50 g of dried leaves pour boiling water in the amount of 200 ml and insist half an hour.

As an alternative to alder leaves, you can use mint leaves, eucalyptus, or oak bark.

If the sour smell is unambiguously associated with improper operation of the digestive tract, then use an infusion of wormwood, which should be drunk at least 200 ml per day.

If the sour smell is associated with problems in the mouth, then in such cases, often benefits the root of ginger. It is enough to cut a thin plate of the root and chew it for a few minutes.


There are many homeopathic medicines that affect the unpleasant sour smell from the mouth, as well as its cause. Among such means - Rus, Mercury, Bryonia, Hamomilla, Coffea, etc.

Koffea Kruda is used mainly in children, especially if the smell is caused by problems in the oral cavity.

With a sour smell from the mouth that occurs in pregnant women, Sepia will do.

Creosotum is a drug that eliminates a bad odor associated with dental problems.

Nuks Vomica will help if the sour smell is the result of disturbances in the digestive tract: in addition, the drug will eliminate pain, constipation and improper digestion of food.

Tsimitsifuga - a means of homeopathy, helping with the appearance of acid in the mouth after stress and nervous shocks.


To prevent the appearance of an unpleasant sour odor from the mouth, several simple but important rules must be observed:

  • ensure regular oral hygiene, thoroughly clean and rinse your teeth;
  • Revise your diet by reducing the amount of fatty, smoked and fried foods, as well as sweets;
  • to revise their drinking regimen, not to allow lack of fluid in the body;
  • visit the dentist regularly;
  • periodically to pass analyzes on a dysbacteriosis and helminthiases;
  • completely refrain from smoking, to a minimum limit the use of alcoholic beverages.

If any malfunctions occur in the digestive organs, it is advisable to immediately see the doctor and take the necessary examinations. This will help prevent not only sour smell from the mouth, but also other gastrointestinal problems.


By itself, a sour smell from the mouth is not terrible, if you do not take into account the aesthetic side of the issue. Danger may represent diseases that have led to the appearance of an unpleasant odor. If you turn to doctors in time and find out the cause of the sour smell, and also remove it in time, then the forecast can be safely considered favorable.

It is important to know!

Halitosis is an unpleasant odor from the mouth that is felt in the exhaled air (actually "halitosis") or regardless of the act of breathing.

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Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 05.10.2018

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