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Strange breath odor with migraine


I am the Mom of a 16 year old boy who has suffered from migraines since he was very young. He also has Janz Syndrome, which is a form of epilepsy.

We have noticed over the years that every time he gets a migraine he also has a very odd and strong odor to his breath. I can only describe it as a "burning chemical" kind of smell. He says he also can taste it in the back of his throat. It only happens when he has a migraine. The odor is so strong that his entire bedroom will smell like it if he wakes up with a migraine.

I have mentioned this to his neurologists several times but they just dismiss it as not important. Unfortunately, it's important to my son because it's very embarrassing for him.

Has anyone else on this forum ever experienced this? Is there a remedy for it (he has good oral hygiene and has tried mouth wash, breath mints & chewing gum, none of which really help)? And is it something I should be concerned about and be more assertive when talking to his doctors about it?

  1. Hi lmlowery,

    It is disheartening when a medical professional dismisses our concerns. Rather than blowing off our concerns it would be much more helpful to explain what is or isn't' happening.

    We can have foul breath during a migraine attack according to Dr.Susan Hutchinson. This has to do with nasal congestion, pain and/or pressure near our sinuses and face. Take a look at this information to read more about it;

    More than likely, when the migraine attack is over, his breath will improve. Does he have medication to stop the migraine process? There are abortive medications approved for adolescents that may be helpful for your son; Maxalt and Axert

    You may want to discuss this with the doctor the next time you see him, or give him a call next week to discuss these options.

    Hope This help,


    1. I have been experiencing a really bad breath problem since this summer. At first I thought it might be that we tried new medications, or the nerve block, or the temporary electrode implants. All of which failed miserably. I thought maybe the bad breath was a side effect of the medications, and I hoped it would disappear. It hasn't yet! I noticed, crazily, that when I flossed at night that the breath was exceptionally bad. So...... I tried something. I brush my teeth. Then I floss with dentotape. And then, I brush my teeth a second time with a hot cinnamon tooth paste (just because I like cinnamon) and it seems to help. It isn't so bad any more. However, I still do not know what caused the odor to appear in the first place: the meds, something new with migraines, or I should really be flossing faithfully everyday, and maybe twice. I will have to ask the neurologist when I see him again in December. I'm kinda of glad you brought this up. It has really been bothering me. Let me know if you find a solution, and I will do the same. Ellen H.

      1. Hello i think it is because of a combination of sinusitis and migraine . when you have migraine and sinusitis at the same time this will cause that bad odor in your breath .
        one of my close friends has this problem . he tried to treat her sinusitis . and Unfortunately all of the doctors that she visit , they just said it is a smell that you yourself just feel it . but i know that smell is real and all her classmates deride her for her problem .
        if any body has any solution please just tell us .
        i read an article in this site about this problem

        1. I have chronic migraine and have had surgery on my sinuses before. I had recurring sinus infections when I was in high school and it turned out that I had a deviated septum and compacted sinuses completely full to the point where a simple nasal rinse couldn't do any for me. The surgeons had to remove the gunk. I still have migraine and occasional sinus inflamation but it is much better. I had to go through and Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist to get the CAT scan. My boyfriend complained about my breath in the past, but since going carb-free and taking a probiotic, fiber, CoQ10, B2, D3, potassium, magnesium, and electrolyte salts my gut has been in a much better shape. My boyfriend doesn't complain anymore. I'm guessing the probiotic and metamucil fiber will help a lot with the smell and carb/sugar free will help reduce the migraines. Many people are triggered by artificial sweetners, so be careful when testing that out. Hope it gets better!

        2. I have had some bad breath problems after taking Ajovy. The stuff really upset my digestive system. I pulled out an "old" health guide and it said to try Acidophilus (in the Billions) for the intestinal tract and Digestive Enzymes for the stomach (Lipase, Amylase, Protease, Lactase, Maltease, etc). I have also added Lactaid for lactose problems. I think it is helping. It's better!! And I brush with a ton of toothpaste and eat some mint once in a while!! You can find all these digestive aids at the pharmacy, over the counter, if you want to try them. According to the health guide, bad breath starts IN THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM!! Surprise Surprise!! Who'd have guessed? Good luck. And if you have a Bite Plane, make sure to brush it with toothpaste at least once a day. Twice is probably better! And Floss!

      2. Hi, this is a late response and I hope your son has figured it out by now but the smell could be coming from his sinuses. His migraine is probably triggering it to fall down and come out of his mouth. I went to the doctors for the same thing and they told me the same thing they told your son so I was desperate to find out what could work. I came across a solution on the internet. This might sound crazy but it worked for me. I bought nasal rinse Neil Med solution package from Walmart. Boil the water to sterilize. Pour it in Neil Med bottle. Let it cool. It may take a few hours for it to cool down enough to where it can go through the nose comfortably without it being too hot. Pour in the salt that comes in the Neil Med package. If you don’t have the salt, just use table salt but just a tiny pinch because it will burn if you use too much. And the last ingredient you need is Johnson’s baby shampoo. Put only a drop. A little more than the salt but don’t overdo it because it will sting if you do. Shake the bottle. As long as you see suds, then you put enough baby shampoo. Get in the shower and do the nasal rinse to get full results. He can do one rinse leaning over like he’s picking up something and then do another round with his body standing up straight and head tilted back. It will go through one nostril and out the other. He could even hold it for maybe 3 seconds with his head tilt back and nose clamped with his fingers so the solution can break down the bacteria up there. Make sure he bends back over to the front once he lets the water out to make sure there isn’t any excess water. And turning your head to the side also lets out excess water. But again, don’t use too much salt and don’t use too much baby shampoo. A tiny tiny pinch of salt and just a drop of baby shampoo. It has to be Johnson’s baby shampoo. I saw your problem and had to tell you about this because this problem was very depressing and embarrassing for me and I was so grateful to have found something that actually worked after being denied consistently by doctors saying they don’t know what it is. I really hope this helps him!

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