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Can Fear Cause Bad Breath

Feb 26, 2008
It may seem like an odd question, does fear cause bad breath? But some people really wonder about this because they notice there seem to have more cases of halitosis when they are nervous or fearful about something. So what exactly brings this on? Is it the fear and anxiety itself, or something else? Does fear cause smelly breath, and if so, what can you do about it, if anything?

There are a few things to think about when considering this subject. The first is how the body changes when you experience extreme fear or anxiety. The heart beats faster to push blood and oxygen to the larger muscles of your legs, in response to the "fight or flight" mechanism. If you must choose "flight," your legs will be ready. This means worse circulation in other parts of your body, which is why some people feel faint when they are fearful.

So, can fear result in smelly breath? Probably not in of itself. Foul breath is just a secondary symptom of those changes in your circulation and breathing. As the oxygen gets sucked from your system, so does moisture. This causes you to produce less saliva, and dry mouth is a cause of foul breath as well. This can happen as having a dry mouth provides a conducive environment for anaerobic bacteria to thrive. These bacteria are the culprit to why our breath smell most of the time.

But does fear cause halitosis in extreme cases? Some have thought that foul breath is a psychosomatic reaction to fear, meaning your body is doing what the mind tells it to do. What this means is that sometimes if you are afraid of your body doing something, it will. If you are afraid of developing smelly breath, you will. And when you are feeling fear in other respects, your fear of bad breath can be exaggerated as well.

And when considering the question if fear result in foul breath, you might want to also consider whether or not you are just more aware of an even mild case of halitosis when you are afraid of something else. For example, if you need to do some public speaking, you can become very self aware and suddenly think that you have terrible skin, a stupid haircut, and so on. In reality, you're just being hypersensitive. A minor case of halitosis is being blown out of proportion along with everything else.

So, does fear cause bad breath? Probably not. You might get a bit more foul-smelling breath because your mouth is dry, but chances are you are just being overly sensitive.
About the Author
Although fear does not cause bad breath, there is Halitophobia. This fear can cause one to be afraid of talking or breathing around others. Learn how to deal with Halitophobia at our bad breath site today.
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