Bad Smell in Nose: Did You Know Your Nose Can Smell Bad Too? Here's What You Can Do About It


Our nostrils are exposed to lots of stinky situations day in and day out- whether it is going outside and smelling a sewage drain nearby, finding leftover food in the fridge that has gone stale, living with pets who refuse to take a bath, and so on.

But what if the bad smell is actually coming from the nose?

It sounds absurd but it can happen in plenty of situations! Several health conditions such as sinus infections, mucus or polyps in the airways, infections in the throat, etc. can result in a bad smell that’s coming from within your nose.

If you are thinking to yourself, ‘the inside of my nose smells bad!’ and getting alarmed, don’t worry. Let’s talk about a few reasons why your nose might be stinking from the inside and what you can do about it -

  • Sinus infection: Sinusitis is a major culprit when it comes to bad smell in nose. Sinus infections can be caused by bacteria, virus, or even fungi. Compared to viral or bacterial sinusitis, fungal infections can be more serious and can even impact the immune system. So, it's important to know what is causing your sinusitis and look into it. Along with bad smell in the nose, you may have other symptoms such as headache, facial pressure, fatigue, postnasal drip, and possible nasal polyps among others. Treatment: In case this bad smell in nose is caused by sinus infection, flu, cold or allergies, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics, depending on the severity of the infection. Antiviral medications are also available and may be recommended. Rest and hydration are also advised for faster recovery. If it is caused by allergies, then the doctor may recommend antihistamines.

  • Postnasal drip: When there’s a lot of bad smelling mucus in nose, it can drip down the back of the throat. This smelly nose mucus then mixes with saliva and can be swallowed without awareness. This leads to bad smell in the nose and also a peculiarly unpleasant taste in the mouth - not to mention bad breath that’s very apparent. Postnasal drip can happen in sinus infections, cold, flus, allergies and the like.

    Treatment: Usually, drinking lots of fluids is advised, and so is using a saline nasal spray. If you live in a dry climate, then you can get a humidifier or a vaporiser to provide sufficient moisture to your nasal cavity. In case they do not work, then you may be advised to use a cortisone steroid nasal spray to relieve inflammation.

  • Tonsil stones: This can be a surprising reason for stinky breath as well as smelly nose. The tonsils have crevices inside, which can trap food particles, dead cells, mucus, saliva, etc. Sometimes, this debris trapped in these crevices can harden into tonsil stones, leading to a bad smell in the nose.

    Treatment: Staying hydrated and having a good oral care routine is recommended to treat tonsil stones. Gargling can dislodge the tonsil stones, and so can coughing vigorously. If the condition is more serious, then laser or radio waves might be used to treat it.

  • Tooth decay: The build-up of bacteria on the surface of the teeth and the subsequent decay can cause both bad breath and foul smell in nose. Dental caries or cavities, gingivitis, and other oral conditions can also cause bad nose smell. This can happen due to a poor dental hygiene routine, and not brushing or flossing adequately.

    Treatment: If your nose smell is caused due to tooth decay, then you need to visit the dentist as soon as possible. You might need to get a professional cleaning/scaling done or have cavities that need to be filled. To prevent tooth decay, it is important to have a proper oral hygiene routine in place. Brush twice a day (for two minutes each) with advanced dental products such as the Oral-B electric toothbrushes that clean the teeth effectively and prevent decay. Since bacteria in the mouth can accumulate and cause decay, rinse off with an antibacterial mouthwash. Floss well using waxed floss strips such as the  Oral-B essential waxed floss. Make sure you visit the dentist every six months for an overall check-up.

  • Underlying health conditions: If the nose smell is persistent then it may be due to other underlying health conditions such as chronic kidney disease, phantosmia, and so on.

    Treatment: In case your nose is smelling is due to a serious underlying health condition then you may want to visit your doctor to identify and treat the condition. Once the treatment begins, the bad smell in the nose will also start to get better.

    So, now that you know what can cause bad smell in your nose and how to treat it, make sure you take the required precautions and medical intervention if necessary. Visit the doctor or the dentist to know the next steps and treatment plan.

Read and know more about bad breath causes, symptoms and treatments at Oral-B India.