You would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys the idea of having bad breath. However, it is not only embarrassment that your halitosis can cause – experts say that there are some cases where bad breath can be directly fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if your breath smells a certain way, it could mean you have a serious complication of diabetes – and one that requires immediate medical attention. To make matters worse, the health authority says that this symptom, which can easily be confused with an oral health problem alone, is sometimes “the first sign of diabetes in people who have not yet been diagnosed,” a fact that often translates into delays. in diagnosis and care. Read on to find out when the CDC says it’s time to call 911 and what other symptoms may alert you to the problem.
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According to the CDC, having fruity or sweet-smelling breath may be the result of a serious complication of diabetes known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Although the condition is more common in people with type 1 diabetes, it can also affect those with type 2 diabetes. No matter what type of diabetes you have, DKA is considered a life-threatening medical emergency. The CDC says that if you notice a fruity smelling breath and think that DKA may be to blame, contact your doctor immediately. If for some reason you can not reach them, go to the emergency room or call 911, CDC experts urge.
While few people are aware of the link between their breathing and their blood sugar levels, CDC experts explain that your breathing may have an unknown odor when ketone levels rise as a complication of diabetes. When the body does not have enough insulin for the cells to convert blood sugar into energy, the liver instead burns fat for fuel and produces acids called ketones as part of the process. This can cause ketones to rise to dangerous levels in your body, causing, among other things, a change in the smell of your breath.
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DKA typically develops slowly over time, and symptoms may be subtle at first. In addition to sweet or fruity smelling breath, early symptoms may also include increased thirst and frequent urination.
If you are not treated, you may be faced with a sudden onset of more severe symptoms. The CDC says these can include nausea and vomiting, rapid or deep breathing, headaches, a red face, fatigue, muscle stiffness or abdominal pain.
Certain circumstances may increase your risk of developing DKA if you have diabetes. Very high blood sugar and low insulin levels are often to blame, the CDC says.
There are two common causes for this set of circumstances to occur: illness and missed insulin injections. The CDC explains that being sick can affect your appetite and thereby change how much you eat or drink. This can make it harder to control your blood sugar level. In other cases, lack of insulin injections (either due to forgetfulness, a clogged insulin pump, or dosing errors) can bring your insulin levels out of balance.
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To prevent a serious medical emergency, the CDC recommends testing your blood for ketones every time you are sick or suspect you have high blood sugar. “You should also test for ketones [every four to six hours] if you have any of the symptoms of DKA, “suggest their experts.
If you find that your ketones are moderate or high, you should contact your doctor for immediate treatment. Call 911 immediately if you can not reach your doctor and you have severe symptoms of DKA, including fruity smelling breath, difficulty breathing, vomiting or blood sugar levels above 300 mg / dL.
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