Often enough, bad breath is instantly recognizable as bad breath. The sour or rotten odor associated with hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of the metabolism of oral bacteria, can quickly tip off any nose to halitosis. But occasionally, the smell of your breath can imitate other odors, potentially leading to some confusion.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a few specific medical conditions can cloak your breath in the smell of urine, feces or rotten fruit.
The Institute reports that fruity, sickly-sweet breath may be a sign of ketoacidosis, an extreme form of ketosis, which is associated with high-protein diets. If you’re on the Atkin’s diet, for instance, your blood will contain excess compounds called ketones, which form when the liver runs out of glycogen to process dietary fats.
Even in diet-associated ketosis, breath can be tinged with a fruity or tangy smell. In the case of ketoacidosis, which is a serious condition, the smell is heightened and exudes from the bloodstream and into the breath. A uric smell on the breath may also indicate kidney failure, according to the NIH.
While the causes of these disorders often require medical diagnosis, the symptom - bad breath - may easily treated by moistening the mouth with odor-neutralizing specialty breath fresheners.