It's high summer, which means you wouldn't expect many people to have chronic cough, one of the symptoms of cold and flu season. Yet you'll find that plenty of people suffer from a regular hack that doesn't seem to bring anything up from their chest, or to go away. Many of these folks also get bad breath. What is going on? They are likely suffering from post-nasal drip.
This common condition occurs when the nasal passages produce thin, runny mucus, usually in response to allergens, dust and other irritants that blow in the wind during the spring and summer.
Since this fluid is thin, it tends to run down the back of the throat, causing a dry cough and leading to halitosis. How much mucus are we talking about? Well, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, your nose produces up to two quarts of fluid on a good day.
So, with post-nasal drip, you can cough on (and swallow) close to a half gallon of nasal mucus. No wonder it can give you oral odor!
In fact, post-nasal drip is so often the cause of chronic cough that in a recent literature review, a pair of British physicians concluded that M.D.s should always check for post-nasal mucus when examining someone with an unexplained cough.
Or, as they put it in their report, which appears in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology: "Within the reviewed literature, there was strong emphasis on post-nasal drip syndrome as a major causative factor [of chronic cough]."
So, what can you do about post-nasal drip and bad breath? Try knocking out both at once by using a soothing, breath freshening nasal spray. Just a few squirts in each nostril can flush out irritants and neutralize the odor compounds that are causing your halitosis.