At times it can be difficult to tell if you really have bad breath. You may detect an odor coming from your mouth but be unsure if what you smell is really there. Breathing into your palm is an unreliable way to check for halitosis, and asking a stranger is usually out of the question. Could it all be in your head? With a few rare exceptions, it is likely that you are not hallucinating and that you do have bad breath.
Medical history records occasional instances of individuals suffering from the irrational fear that they have bad breath. It is a diagnosable disorder, called Olfactory Reference Syndrome (ORS) by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. People with ORS obsess over the thought that their mouth or body is emitting a bad smell, which can interfere with work or socializing.
ORS occasionally makes the rounds as a topic of halitosis-related discussion. However, the odds that your bad breath is all in your head are very slim. Only a few hundred cases of ORS have been diagnosed in over one hundred years, according to a report published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. Unless you are losing friends because you cannot stop thinking about your breath, it is unlikely that your halitosis is a hallucination.
Most bad breath suspicions are founded in fact, not fantasy. To properly check for bad breath, you may consider licking a cottonball and seeing if the residue has any odor. Rinsing with a specialty breath freshener may eliminate those odors by neutralizing the sulfuric compounds associated with bad breath.