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By Dave Hall

For all you hypochondriacs out there, Dave Hall continues his regular look at a some of the more unusual medical conditions, as well as some you thought you knew all about.


Condition Yes, the dreaded oral malodour… This common condition affects about 25% of the population, and is caused by the build up of proteins in the mouth that are then fed on by bacteria. It is most often located on the tongue, but can also occur in the nose, tonsils (if you still have them) and even the stomach (although this is rare).

It is often unnoticed by the bearer because of habituation to the smell, although people commonly lick the back of their hands and smell the result to see whether their breath smells nasty or not. Scientists have poo-pooed this method, saying it is an overestimation and should be avoided. The best way is to just ask someone you trust (and someone who won’t go running to your friends) for their honest opinion. If you think you have a really serious problem, then a Halimeter, gas chromatography, a BANA test or a β-galactosidase test can determine how bad it is.

Interestingly, 0.5 – 1% of the population have delusional halitosis, where they think they have bad breath, but in fact do not!

Contagion – Not at all contagious, so don’t worry about passing it on (not that you’ll get close enough to anyway).

Danger of death – It’s not going to kill you, so no need to worry.
Incurability? The condition can be aided by eating a healthy breakfast (rough foods clean the back of the tongue), cleaning the tongue surface, chewing gum, gargling with mouthwash and drinking lots of water each day.
Likelihood of getting time off work Unlikely you’ll get time off for this one, but if it is so bad that people can’t stand being around you, you may just find yourself being let off work earlier and earlier.
Brag-ability Nothing to write home about here, best thing to do is keep your distance, clear the problem up and start brushing that tongue of yours. Laughing about it to others will only make it worse.
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Overall ridiculousness If you have bad breath, it’s far from ridiculous, although as far as killer diseases go, it’s a tame one.

More conditions to come soon:

    Post Nasel Drip, Werewolf syndrome and more.

Find more curious conditions in Doctor Doctor. If you can't wait for the next Doctor Doctor, then why not find a Phunny Phobia to keep you going?

Photo: Hilary Quinn, SXC

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13 Sep 2008
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