Carefree M.D. Blog

The Inside of My Nose Smells Bad: 10 Causes and Treatments

Carefree MD

September 10, 2021 | Blog

No one likes bad smells around the house. But, what if that smell is actually coming from inside of your nose instead of from the garbage, dishwasher, or fridge?

Discover what medical or practical reasons and causes there are for the bad smell inside your nose, and what you can do to alleviate it.

1. Sinus Infection

Sinus infection (sinusitis) is a very common viral or bacterial illness. Apart from a runny or stuffy nose, you may also experience a headache, facial pressure, and an inability to smell and taste.

While the latter would be welcome, the built-up snot in your nose can create a really bad smell. 

Acute sinusitis clears out by itself within a week. However, chronic sinusitis may require medical intervention. 

2. Certain Foods and Medications

Sometimes, the bad smell coming from inside your nose isn’t due to an illness.

Occasionally, tiny air particles called odorants get trapped inside your nose. Odorants from cooking certain foods or taking medications can easily bother your sense of smell later.

Eating or cooking with garlic, onion, coffee, or chillies can have such a strong smell that you feel it hours later too.

While getting rid of onion breath is relatively easy, if the smell is coming from inside your nose, you’ll simply have to wait it out.

3. Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are small, non-cancerous, teardrop-shaped growths inside your nose. They’re a result of asthma, allergies, or frequent sinus infections.

And one of the most common symptoms that you have a nasal polyp is a foul, rotten smell coming from the inside of your nose. This comes from fluid buildup in the polyp itself.

Another is quite the opposite, a decreased sense of smell and taste.

While some polyps are small enough not to affect your breathing at all, others can grow much larger in size.

If a prescription of corticosteroids doesn’t eliminate the nasal polyps, surgery is sometimes the best course of action.

4. Postnasal Drip

Smelly mucus dripping down your throat is what we call postnasal drip. This can be very uncomfortable, especially if the mucus is thick and rubbery.

Apart from the discomfort, you may also experience that the mucus smells bad. 

Drinking plenty of water and using humidifiers can help clear your air passages faster.

5. Tonsil Stones

The tiny crevices on your tonsils can sometimes trap debris, food particles, saliva, or mucus. And these can become hardened substances called tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones are ideal for bacteria to get attached to. When they do, they can give off a bad smell from inside your nose or throat.

Poor oral hygiene is the most common culprit behind tonsil stones. Gargling with mouthwash and brushing your teeth regularly can help prevent them.

6. Smoking

Just like the odorants from food, the odorants from smoking can also get trapped inside your nose. 

It’s a universally accepted fact that smoking is bad for your health. It significantly increases your risk of lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, and many more life-threatening illnesses. 

But, smoking also affects your smell and appearance. The smell of smoke can get trapped in your hair and skin. Eventually, smoking also leads to increased signs of aging.

7. Tooth Decay

Poor oral hygiene can lead to tartar buildup, cavities, and tooth decay. Tooth decay is an infection of the tooth. And it can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.

The bacteria in the infection can sometimes have a strong bad smell that can travel up to your nose.

Treating tooth decay as soon as you notice it is crucial. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and attending regular dental cleanings can prevent cavities and tooth decay.

8. Dry Mouth

Your saliva is very useful. It washes plaque off your teeth before it does any damage. It also keeps your mouth occupied, so bacteria can’t set in.

However, certain medications can cause you to stop producing sufficient saliva. This is called dry mouth.

Dry mouth is dangerous, because it affects the health of your teeth. It can even lead to cavities. But, it’s also smelly...

Without enough saliva, bacteria can easily build up in your mouth. And this can lead to bad breath and a bad smell inside your nose.

9. Phantosmia

Sometimes, the bad smell inside your nose isn’t caused by bacteria. You can also just imagine it.

Olfactory hallucination is called phantosmia. Certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, and inflamed sinuses can lead to phantom smells.

While phantosmia sometimes resolves itself, other times you need to treat the underlying cause to get rid of the bed smell you’re sensing.

10. Chronic Kidney Disease

One of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease is a strong ammonia-like smell from the back of your nose.

When your kidney functions break down, your body’s waste products can build up. Feeling a metallic taste in your mouth is just as common as smelling something bad inside your nose.

The strange smell probably isn’t the first symptom you’ll feel. Kidney pain, fatigue, and discolored urine are clear indications of chronic kidney disease.

Talk to a Doctor About Your Bad Nose Smell

If you feel a bad smell coming from inside your nose, it may not be anything serious. However, it can also be a symptom of an illness. Getting diagnosed and treated as soon as possible may be crucial. 

It’s best to speak to a doctor about it. And the easiest way to do that is with telemedicine options, such as Carefree MD.

Get unlimited access to a 24/7 doctor on call using your phone or computer at your convenience. Speak to a state-licensed physician about your symptoms, get prescriptions sent to your local pharmacy when medically necessary, and receive personalized advice on treatment options.

Talk to a doctor about those funky smells by signing up for a Carefree MD membership today!


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