Halitophobia (Delusional Halitosis)

A woman covering her face

What is halitophobia and how to get over it

Halitophobia (also known as delusional halitosis) is the fear of having halitosis (bad breath). People who have halitophobia often worry excessively about having bad breath. They may suffer from halitosis or not at all, but usually the bad breath they have is not as bad as they believe it is.

How many people suffer from halitophobia

Most people are at least slightly concerned about how their breath smells, so it is reasonable to say that most people have halitophobia but in varying degrees. Severe halitophobia is uncommon with estimates that less than 1% of the adult population suffer from it. Halitophobia is severe when the fear of having bad breath causes social anxiety, depression, withdrawal, etc.

Dentists have estimated that up to 25% of the people who see them for professional consultation on halitosis are afflicted with halitophobia.


Emotional Trauma

Halitophobia often develops quite innocently, through a comment by someone who lets them know they have a bad breath problem. The person then becomes paranoid about their breath to the point it affects their everyday life.

Culture and Society

We are constantly bombarded with advertising that tells us we need their mouthwash, mints, chewing gum, toothbrushes, and toothpastes in order to get rid of bad breath. From this we are frequently reminded about our own breath and how others might not like it.

Difficulty of detecting your own bad breath

Although there are various methods on how to smell your own breath, it is still very difficult to do so. Not knowing for sure if ones breath smells bad at any given time fuels the anxiety of people suffering from halitophobia and can lead to OCD-like symptoms.

Stem from other condition

Halitophobia may stem from other conditions a person may have such as delusion, hypochondria and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and olfactory reference syndrome. If you have these disorders you might be more susceptible to halitophobia.


The effects of halitophobia can range from something small, like turning your head away when someone gets to close to your face, to severe effects such as depression and even suicide. Here is a list of possible effects:

How to know if you have it

If you suffer from some of the effects listed above you may suffer from halitophobia. If you know that you are concerned with your breath a lot of the time and it affects your life negatively then you suffer from it.

You may suffer from halitophobia if you go to a doctor and he or she tells you there is no problem but you still believe you have halitosis.

How to treat it

Get rid of bad breath - The most effective way of treating a fear of having bad breath, is getting rid of bad breath. Bad breath is not desirable and affects others, so instead of just trying to get rid of your fear of bad breath, it would be better to get rid of your bad breath. Halitophobia can be useful in order to give you the motivation needed to practice better oral health care. If you have fresh breath most of the time and know that, your fear of having bad breath affects you less. Having better oral health care is not simply just brushing or flossing your teeth more. If you have bad technique and brush your teeth too often or too vigorously you may do more harm then good. You need to do it right, click here to learn how.

Once you have visited the dentist and are taking care of your teeth and have good oral health care, relax, and don't let halitophobia affect you so much. Live your life, and if you do offend someone with temporary bad breath, it is not a big deal, everyone has bad breath at one time or another.

Ask others about your breath - If you know you are doing all you can to have fresh breath and still have halitophobia that affects you negatively then it might help to get opinions from others. Ask them directly if they think you have a problem with having bad breath. Listen to the people who you trust, if you are consistently being told you don't have bad breath, relax and believe them. If you need to, even go and see and get a dentists opinion about it.

You are not alone - It is important to know that everyone suffers from halitosis at one time or another and most people do have halitophobia to some degree. If you want a support system talk with others about how you feel and you might be surprised to find out they suffer the same things. For even more support there are even groups such as Halitophobics Anonymous.

If you have a question or a comment on how you have successfully treated halitophobia, please let us know by posting below. Thanks!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+
Comments (29)
Pages | 1

I have the cure

As a long time(8 years now) sufferer I have fought hard with this disorder. It have literally changed my breathing pattern which is now very very slow. From a very bright and active person that I used to be, Now I am a total zombie. The solution to this is not only changing a few life style habits but also getting affection from some one 24/7.
The most important part is to form a group and then talk to each other. That way it will be very comforting and may be we all or some of us will find love and happiness.

by anonymous on Sep 24, 2016 | 6:37 PM


Every night I have dreams that my dentist is chasing me with a toothbrush and I'm screaming and all of my friends and family are laughing at me. I wake up wailing in a sweat. I stash so many mints in my mouth that when I was giving a presentation at work, I started choking and a man had to give me the Heimlich maneuver. I have to buy new pants constantly because I forget my pockets are stuffed with mints and they come out of the dryer with giant white stains!! This is ruining my life!

by Charles on Sep 3, 2016 | 6:28 PM

Mine started when a guy I use to date told me my breathe stank one morning after sex. Absolutely normal to have morning breath. I've been paronoid ever since. My thought were so intrusive and I couldn't get my brain to stop thinking about my breathe. Overtime it got a little better. Just the other day my boyfriend said he could smell my breath a little and it triggered everything over again! I worked all day it was super funky but tart. It is traumatic I'm with you guys. I use to blow in my sisters face and she told me my breathe is fine. My boyfriend even is like I've only smelled your breathe twice! It's all in our minds, ask somebody you trust and you have to believe them. Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, rinse with mouth wash. I promise you're fine. Go on YouTube and listen to guided meditation for unwanted thought or anxiety. It's calming and really helps. I also pray to God who is my strength and healer. We can't let the devil win and stop us from being in a relationship or getting married. We can all get through this! After all we really don't have a problem. Be encouraged I pray for everyone's healing. In Jesus Name, Amen.

by Monique on Aug 27, 2016 | 7:29 PM

Hey guys, glad to know I'm not alone. I have been dealing with this problem for 7 years now. I just turned 24 and will be attending college soon. This has literally ruined my life ever since I was aware of the halitosis. I ask my closest friends and family members if they every smell bad breath on me but they always say no. I want to believe them but I can't. I always look at other people's faces when I talk to them and I interpret that every little movement they make is because of my breath. It has become so bad and I've been so depressed because of it. I'm sorry for everyone who is going through this. Hopefully one day we can break free and truly be ourselves again.

by Alicia on Aug 12, 2016 | 3:27 AM

You guys are not alone. I too have this paralizing condition. I took over my life. I wasnt like this before. I don't know how to end it but i suggest that you should see a psychiatrist. It all in our head. Its unexisting fear. We could conquer it. Iknow. Just have faith and believe in yourself.

by King on Jun 24, 2016 | 6:53 AM

I am so relieved to see others like myself...I have suffered with this for years and am depressed, lonely, hopeless and it has manifested in crippling social anxiety, WHICH RESULTS IN CONSTANT SWEATING and CONSTANT BODY ODOUR. I have zero self confidence and am constantly depressed and cry. HELP!!!....

by gia on Jun 20, 2016 | 10:42 AM

can smells be imagined?

Can smells be imagined? Because I can definitely smell my own breath, and it's bad. So I don't understand how it can all be in my head, I can literally smell the bad breath! I am too embarrassed to ask someone else if it smells, what if it really does :/ HELP! PLEASE ANSWER!

also i have ocd and probably olfactory reference syndrome

by tt on May 25, 2016 | 2:17 PM


i m suffering from halitophobia.halitophobia has ruined my life.please some body help me to get rid of from it.somebody give me some tips to how could avoide from it.my email address is waleed.ahmed1457@gmail.com. please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please help me.

by waleed saeed on Apr 28, 2016 | 5:50 AM

Reply to Emily

Hi Emily, I understand everyone here, I too suffer from this problem every single day. I take care good care of my dental and personal hygiene but still have bad breath. I don't know how to describe my smell, it is the same smell that comes from nose and mouth, unfortunately even if I have my mouth close people can definitely smell it. I think it comes from my digestive system or digestive process or stomach. I don't know really, otherwise I am healthy, I excersice and keep a healthy weight. I am afraid to go places even almost stopped going to church because of the looks I get from people. My self esteem is so low, I have kids and my oldest say I don't have a bad smell but my little one said the other day there is a stinky smell when she got very close to me. This condition is EXTREMELY DEPRESSING.I don't understand why there is Still no cure to millions of people suffering from Halitosis. Scientists come out with all kind of mess for everything but nothing for BAD BREATH.! Dentists always say it comes from mouth, they want people to believe that, not really!!!

by R on Mar 2, 2016 | 12:26 PM

Bad breath anxiety

I have the same issue I've suffered for a long time I have good hygiene and very attractive but I'm going to the doctor and dentist and they told me that I don't have bad breath but I still believe bu and I'm starting to lose self. confidence and get scared of being in relationships fearing that the reason they leave me is because of my bad but I scraped my tongue brush my teeth and floss three times a but and everyone tells me how pretty teeth I have and everything but I still just don't believe they don't have bad breath it gives me social anxiety and I don't know what to do anymore but I'm glad I'm not alone and I pray that all of us can get over a I would love some I would on this I don't know what to do anymore

by Emily on Mar 1, 2016 | 12:30 PM

i can no longer sustain myself

I have suffered from bad breath for the past 5 years of my life. I have become so depressed that I cry myself to sleep every night. I have lost 2 jobs over this situation and I am at a point where I can no longer sustain myself financially because of the lack of income. I am currently looking for something I can do remotely - work from home. I have worked as an accountant and have sound experience, but can't display because of my bad breath. I am hoping someone can help with this. I am willing to do anything online and have the experience and knowledge to carry out any tasks. If you are in need of a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, or someone to do data entry work via online, please contact me. I have a daughter to look out for and I honestly don't know how I am going to make money. I've been on several interviews and got dismissed several times. Please help!! Maybe we can all help each since we all know how it feels to work in a workplace environment. We all need to sustain ourselves someway and somehow and a lot of you are fortunate enough to have a company that is not bothered by it or even have your own company. Regardless, please empathize and help.


thank you kindly.

by Hatshepsut on Feb 13, 2016 | 9:17 PM

I have always believed I have bad breath, I really think I do, I am so self conscious of my breath odors, I get very anxious when I have to be close to people, I hate being invited to parties because the anxiety I feel, just thinking about makes me even angry, I am married and everyone at my house love being social but for me it is Extremely Stressful, Many times I refuse to go and people think I don't want to have anything with them (in-laws). At home I sit as far as I can from my own family especially if I need to say something. If I am at a fair distance then I feel I can engage in a conversation. I feel Invaded when someone happens to sit close to me!
I definitely have halitophobia and very likely bad breath too.

by R on Feb 11, 2016 | 5:49 PM

Not Alone

Reply to the comments:I thought this was a physical problem too but my mom swore to me saying it's all in my head! So I will ask few more people who aren't family. And if they confirm that it's just in my head then I would treat it as a mental illness! I suggest yall also see a psychologist as well.and this whole nose rubbing thing could very well be imaginary as well.

by Not Alone on Feb 2, 2016 | 9:44 PM

Am out of my mind

Am 22 years n am suffering from chronic halitophobia am 4th year eng'g student my life falls apart all my classmates make fun off me they look me as afool some of them call me festula even when i get to th class am sitting at the back alone i dont have any frnd, i dont trust any body every time i walk alone n stack to my bed every day am thinking dat am not human why this happen to me am going round n round in my mind n think that my life is over am totaly depressed even i want to kill my self all i thinking is negative every single day i was crying my heart is broken in to pecies no life no present no future no hope i met so money doctors their treatment does not work i dont knw what to do they only chance have is to get crazzy or siucid...what aworst life is it?

by Hamdi on Jan 20, 2016 | 5:26 AM

Same problem

I have been affected by this problem for long time now spend thousands buying products and even removing my tonsils .. I asked all my friends if I have bb they laugh and say no. If you did I would tell u.. But I see the nose rub
I need to know if weather it's all in
My head, helitophobia, or what the hell is it. I have read it in previous forums that a guy had same problem and when he saw the gastoentrologist he was diagnosed with candida over grown.. Soo then he took this pills and that pretty much fixed his problem..

by Ali on Dec 6, 2015 | 10:07 PM

I have been affected by this problem for long time now spend thousands buying products and even removing my tonsils .. I asked all my friends if I have bb they laugh and say no. If you did I would tell u.. But I see the nose rub
I need to know if weather it's all in
My head, helitophobia, or what the hell is it. I have read it in previous forums that a guy had same problem and when he saw the gastoentrologist he was diagnosed with candida over grown.. Soo then he took this pills and that pretty much fixed his problem..

by Ali on Dec 6, 2015 | 7:34 PM

this **** CRAY!!!!

by luis S on Dec 4, 2015 | 3:16 PM

I need help

This has had a MASSIVE impact on all aspects of my life. One of the most painful things for me is not being able to spend time with my 1 year old niece because i'm afraid that she will be offended to the point of crying, and now my family thinks i don't care about her/them but i cant explain to them the truth because someone with this dissorder simply does not understand. The second worst part (among many) is my obsessive compulsive intake of sugar free gums and mints has put my health in a questionable position due to my body not knowing where to store all the aspartame, iv'e tried all the other sugar free suppliments such as stevia and xylitol gum, but they dont seem to be strong enough for my satisfaction, so ive accepted that i may have health issues down the road to to this. i look back to my life before this and i just want to be free like that again and be able to flirt with women and laugh with friends the way i used to. This has litterally left me unemployed and suicidal for the past 2 years and now im facing credit card debt as a result. This has litterally defined me for so long and if i dont break free of this mental affliction soon i will go brain dead from the lack of oxygen and lose the last few people i have left. Im truly sorry that you guys suffer with this as i do, i would suffer with this for the rest of my life if it meant taking the pressure off you guys.

by Sammy on Nov 27, 2015 | 10:55 PM

To all my fellow sufferers, I know your pain. I wish we were cured of this ridiculousness.

by Stacy on Nov 18, 2015 | 6:52 AM

It's ruining my life. My husband says my breath is fine... My kids, my doctor, my dentist. But I'm so self conscious that I can't live a happy normal life. I brush my teeth and floss at least 10 times a day. I scrape my tongue. I eat mints constantly! This is taking over my life and I wish I could be normal. I watch people with the worst breath talk to me with ease and It upsets me even more. My day can start off fine and then get ruined because one person has bad breath... For the rest of my day I am thinking... Was it me?

by Stacy on Nov 18, 2015 | 6:50 AM

Its really hard

I don even know where to begin.. the constant fear anxiety less interested in almost about everything and everyone I have gone far from the person I used to be since I started thinking I have bad breath.. have checked with different dentists with my friends and all of them told me that I don have it but I am so sucked into believing that I have bad breath I cou believe them.. I keep thinking they are saying this may be not to hurt my feelings. I clean my tooth regularly even may be more than necessary I don know what else to do

by Josh on Nov 17, 2015 | 4:47 PM

wow..i got the same problem too.the worst part is i can't tell if its a phobia or if my breath stinks for real.the person who always sit next to me sniffles and rub their nose its so frustratong andconfus-in

by kallly on Oct 16, 2015 | 4:01 PM

It's Ruling My Life

Oh yes, I definitely have this, and it sucks because it is beginning to control my life! My confidence, enthusiasm and self esteem has taken a toll for the worst all because of this. I fear going around, sitting or standing next to people, because I start to get anxiety and will become uncomfortable.

It usually starts off as me panicking because I am sitting or standing next to the person and then I start thinking about my breath and whether or not they can smell it (especially when some of them are all up in my face) and then I start to panic, and when I start panicking I start to hold in my breath, and when I start to hold in my breath I start to breathe uneasily and unregular. Usually when this happens the persons around me whether it be friends or family start to pick up on it. I don't know how, but I try not to make it so obvious, but sometimes people notice and they may think that I am distant or cold or that I don't like them, but that's not the case, because after all I am doing it for them. I am trying to protect them from smelling anything and myself from being offended when I see that nose rub in turn.

But let me tell you something. I do take care of my hygiene. I shower, wash my hair, brush my teeth, put on deodorant, put on lotion, put on perfume, the whole works! I've told my Mom about this, and have asked her and some of my closest friends if I have bad breath and they would both reply, telling me that I don't, so then I would confront them about the nose rubbing.I would ask them why they would rub their noses when they look at me, in my direction, or around me. I would ask them why they do that, because the majority of the time, I don't even have my mouth open, it's just that I am breathing in and out of my nose and they would still rub their noses, sometimes very intense, and I'm just there wondering like 'WHAT IN GOD'S NAME AM I DOING WRONG?' They would say that it's nothing. That I didn't need to worry and that they only did that when their nose itched them, but I really don't believe them.

Sometimes when someone comes up to me, close to my face, I start to hold my breath, sometimes so long that my lungs would start to pain and my breathing would start to become uneasy. Sometimes, I would turn my head in the other direction and play it off like as if I am looking at something in the distance. Other times I would take several steps back just to ensure that I am at a distance where my breath whether fresh or not will not get into the other persons face. I am very uncomfortable around people.

This is crazy. I really don't know how to get over this.

by Tete on Sep 18, 2015 | 10:10 PM

So em not alone...it sucks alot and i've lost hope in life.

by Rozey on Sep 13, 2015 | 12:06 AM

Omg I cannot believe I'm not alone... I thought I was the only one in the world that had this terrible problem... I can't talk to anyone face to face... I can't talk to a person even if they are 2 feet away from me. I have to stand across a room to Beable to have a conversation. The worst part of my problem is my mouth dries and it makes it even worse. When my mouth dries I can't even breathe out of my nose if I around people I hold my breath and almost suffocate. All of my friends are avoiding me because I've became antisocial and now I'm trying to get a girl friend but I speak low and I never look at her so she has no interest.. I sad because it's effecting my everyday life and I feel like it's never gonna go away!

by Adler Maignan on May 26, 2015 | 10:04 PM

I have it and it's making my life horrible, it' controlling my life. I have no sentimental relationships because of this problem altough I would have the possibility . I have refused a few guys because of it. It just makes social life unpleasent so you just lose enthusiasm in being with others. I'm 21 and i'm a nice girl but i'm living as an 80 years grandma

by Alessia on May 20, 2015 | 4:54 AM

I have this too. It's taking a toll on me. I hate going places with people. I cover my mouth when I talk. I also stand across the room to have conversations.

by Lisa on Mar 13, 2015 | 7:45 PM

Me too, I live. With it everyday. It sucks so bad....I chew gum all the gum, and even still the fear dries my mouth out and makes it worse. I need a break, my brain does for sure.

by Ashley on Jan 29, 2015 | 8:26 PM

I definitely have this.

by Julia on Oct 15, 2014 | 7:18 PM
Pages | 1
Make A Comment
Email: (Optional)
Title: (Optional)