What Causes Bad Smell In Nose?

Do you have a bad smell coming from the nose? Is it really bothering you? Bad smell from the nose is very common among people. However, it is something that many people are embarrassed to talk about. What are some of the most common causes of a bad smell coming from the nose? Is this treatable? In this article we will try to explain some of the most common causes of the bad smell coming from the nose and their treatment.

Bad smell from the nose can occur to both men and women. Don’t be afraid to seek medical help and talk to your healthcare provider about it. Seeking proper medical help and diagnosing its real cause will help you get rid of that bad smell. You have probably tried various nasal sprays at home on your own, but nothing really helped.
Some of the most common causes of bad smell coming from the nose include:

  • Nasal Polyps – are non-cancerous growth inside of the nose, which are usually soft and painless. Nasal polyps result from a chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa due to recurrent infections, allergies or even certain types of immune disorders. The size of the nasal polyps varies. Small nasal polyps are usually asymptomatic, while larger nasal polyps may interfere with breathing. Nasal polyps also may cause losing the sense of the smell and recurrent infections. They can affect anyone and the treatment with various medications can help shrink or even eliminate the nasal polyps. In some cases surgery is the only treatment option where these nasal polyps are removed. The bad smell from the nose in cases of nasal polyps results from recurrent infections.
  • Post Nasal Drip – is a runny discharge coming from the nose. The discharge comes from the excessive mucus which goes down your throat. Bacteria multiply and grow in this ambient causing bad smell from the mouth and nose. Post nasal drip can be triggered by a common cold, flu, allergies, sinusitis, certain types of food, pregnancy, smoke, deviated septum and other irritants in the environment. The treatment is focused on the cause of the post nasal drip. Antibiotics are often recommended when the reason is a bacterial infection. In cases when the reason is a viral infection requires decongestants. In cases of an allergy corticosteroids are necessary, accompanied with nasal sprays.
  • Rhinoscleroma – is a chronic granulomatous bacterial disease of the nasal cavity. This infection is caused by bacteria named Klebsiellarhinoscleromatis. It is a tropical disease affecting more the people living in Central America and Africa. The disease progresses in three stages. The first stage is the catarrhal stage which begins with a nonspecific rhinitis. The disease progresses into a purulent rhinitis which lasts for weeks and sometimes even months. The second stage is the granulomatous stage where rubbery nodules and even polyps develop inside of the nasal cavity in the nasal mucosa. Rhinoscleroma will lead to nasal bleeding, nasal deformity and destruction of the nasal cartilage. The last stage is the fibrotic stage, characterized by sclerosis and fibrosis.
  • Tonsilloliths – are stones created inside of your tonsils. The real reason why these stones are created inside of the tonsils is not known. However, these stones are usually white in color, sometimes even yellow and are generally made out of calcium. With time the food is accumulated creating a perfect environment for various bacteria to grow and multiply. This is where the bad smell on the nose and mouth comes from. Tonsil stones usually do not require treatment.
  • Sinusitis – is the inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are cavities around the nasal passage. When the sinuses get inflamed the drainage is blocked and the mucus collects. The sinuses get swollen, causing also the area around your nose, eyes and face to get swollen, where the bacteria accumulate and an infection is developed. The bacteria multiply in this environment producing also waste products which usually contain noxious sulphur. This is the cause of the bad smell coming from the nose. Headache and a throbbing facial pain are also very common in the cases of sinusitis. Sinusitis affects both men and women usually at a young age. Acute sinusitis can last up to a couple of weeks, while chronic sinusitis can last up to a couple of months, even years. Treatment of sinusitis includes the use of antibiotics and various steroid sprays and drops to treat the infection. Application of moist heat to the face may help ease the discomfort and the throbbing pain.
  • Adenoiditis – is an inflammation of the adenoids. This inflammation can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes, however it can be caused by an allergic reaction. Adenoiditis blocks the nasal cavity, leading to an accumulation of the bacteria, a purulent discharge from the nose and subsequently a bad smell coming from the nose. Treatment requires the use of antibiotics. However, in some cases a surgical removal of the inflamed adenoids is required.
  • Snoring – while we snore the mouth remains open. This results in the loss of moisture from the mouth, impairing also the production of the saliva. The impaired production of the saliva interferes with the ability of the mouth to clean itself, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and multiply. This overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth will lead to bad smell coming from the nose. Treatment of snoring depends from its cause. Usually snoring results from a congestion and blockage of the nasal passage. Sleeping positions also interfere with snoring. Sleeping on the side is recommended, while sleeping on the back should be avoided. Alcoholic drinks, caffeine, heavy meals and depressants should be also avoided before bedtime.
  • Tooth Decay – it may sound strange that a tooth’s decay can cause bad smell that comes from the nose. But, yes it is true. Accept bad breath, a tooth decay can also cause bad breath that comes from the nose, especially a rotting teeth. Visit a dentist as soon as possible and get those teeth fixed. Your problem will be solved. Don’t forget to maintain a good oral hygiene afterwards.
  • Ozena – is also known as atrophic rhinitis. It is a chronic infection of the nasal mucosa leading to the atrophy of the nasal mucosa, nasal bones and the nerves that supply the nose. It can be primary or secondary. Primary ozena is caused by a bacteria named Basillus Mucosus or Klebsiella ozaenae, while secondary ozena results from nazal trauma, radiation or surgery of the nasal cavity. Patients who suffer from ozena also lose their sense of smell. Ozena is a rare condition. The smell that comes from the nose in cases of suffering from ozena is very unpleasant. It can be so intense that can even isolate the person suffering from this condition.

Regardless of the cause, if you are having bad smell that comes from the nose seek medical help. Treatment is necessary in most of the cases to treat the infection that has caused this unpleasant smell. In some cases, like in the cases suffering from ozena this unpleasant odor coming from the nose is so intense that it can even deprive the person from having a social life.


  1. I think I’m experiencing same health issues
    It turns out,people cover their nose when I breath on them.I friend of mine said I got bad breath coming from my mouth but it turns out it’s both.From the mouth and nose
    I feel very ashamed
    What do I do? Please

    • There are a number of different reasons why you might have bad breath. The best thing that you can do is go to your doctor to be checked out. Make sure to mention your symptoms to him or her.

  2. I need help. I have had an odor in my nose for at least 3 years. ENT did MRI and CAT scan found nothing. Visual scope exams find nothing, no nodes or polyps. I did antibiotic washes for 30 and 60 days but no change. Smell is like sewer, sometimes like burnt coffee. I don’t have sinus problems, no allergies, no drainage, none of the regular symptoms mentioned above. It is usually so strong I think that others around me must smell it but they don’t. I feel like I am rotting from the inside out. My teeth are fine. My tonsils were removed when I was a teen. I can still smell other things fine. I put Vicks Vapor Rub in my nostrils so that it can cover the odor so that I can get to sleep and not smell the odor. If anyone / any Dr. has any other ideas I would covet your suggestions and help.

    • Continue to monitor your symptoms at this time. You may want to speak with another medical professional for additional input. If you are interested in seeking alternative treatment, then do so. Members of our community may have insights that they want to share with you. Have a great day, Albert!

  3. I’ll be checking with my primary care doctor (who is pretty awesome). I just get a smell that seems to come from a very small pocket in back of the tip of my nose where a little stuff accumulates.

    It seems to me that I asked about this before and was told it has something to do with a dry nose? I clean it out and put some vaseline in there and it seems to clear it up temporarily, but then it seems to come back eventually. And it more comes in cycles, but doesn’t stay all the time, all year round.

    Any light you can shed on that or is all of this really more for someone here, on the ground, to assess? Regardless, thanks for the additional info!!

    • There may be members of our community that have insights and experiences to share with you. We appreciate that you took the time to share your supportive comments and information as well. It is certain that you comment will help other members of our community in the future. Please share more of your thoughts and feelings. Have a great day, David!

  4. These questions and answers were very helpful !!!! gosh I thought I was all alone experiencing these symptoms !!! THANK YOU now I won’t be so timid asking my doctor
    I was being a recluse, sad to say 🙁

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Please share more of your supportive comments in the future. We look forward to more of your experiences ans insights in the future. Have a great day, Sharyn!

  5. my husband has a diesel fuel smell in his nose and goes into burning his eyes. He uses a C-pap machine. Is this allergies or the machine?

    • His symptoms should be addressed by his medical professional. They know his medical history. They will also be able to test his equipment and allergies. They will be able to diagnose and treat his condition. Monitor his symptoms at this time, so you can better address any questions that your doctor may have. Have a great day, Pamela!

  6. Only I smell the odor, and it impacts my taste. No diet or medication changes. Started about 4 weeks ago. I had Bronchitis about 6-8 weeks ago,and was on an antibiotic, but no sinus diagnosis. I don’t feel badly, have noticed no changes otherwise. This smell is annoying, can’t enjoy a good meal. Please help.

    • There may be a variety of reasons for your symptoms. You have spoken with a medical professional, and their prescriptions have not helped you. You may need to speak with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may want to speak with a natural doctor if you do not find a solution. Best of luck, Kathy!

  7. what if people says your breath does not smell bad yet they close their nose when you breath on them.
    My doctor said is normal but trust me this can’t be normal.A foul smell being normal???? hmmm any help please???

    • It is possible that they are being polite. It is possible that there are other things that influence their actions. If you believe that your breath smells, then attempt to change behaviors. If behaviors, such as food consumption or lack of hygiene, are not influencing the smell, then you may need to speak with a medical professional. They may be able to give you advice or support. Best of luck, Maame!

    • It is possible that they are being polite. It is possible that there are other things that influence their actions. If you believe that your breath smells, then attempt to change behaviors. If behaviors, such as food consumption or lack of hygiene, are not influencing the smell, then you may need to speak with a medical professional. They may be able to give you advice or support. Best of luck, Maame!

  8. I had all my teeth pulled from an infection and now i have to blow my nose every 20 minutes if i dont i get really bad headakes an the mucus is bright neon green also smells like death in my nose my fiancee was sitting next to me when i blew my nose she could smell it been for almost 11 months

    • Visit a medical professional at this time. You may find benefit in speaking with a specialist. It is possible that you still have an infection. The infection may be the cause of this odor. Make an appointment at this time. Best of luck, Jake!

  9. got to go here iam an older man and I do smoke weed I had some 2 weeks ago and took 3 4 puffs felt it burn bad all the way up my nose-now I have a bad smell around smoke some foods and its outside and inside did I burn some thing and what to do its really irritating I have not changed any foods -soap-etc

    • It is possible that you burned your hairs or nose skin. It is possible that this is a symptom of something else. Continue to monitor your experiences for additional symptoms. Abstain from smoking anything until this smell fades away. Remember this for future events. If it does not disappear within two weeks, then speak with a medical professional. Best of luck, Jerry!

    • It is possible that this smell is caused by a medical condition. It may be caused by your diet. Continue to monitor your experiences at this time. If you find that anything alters your symptoms, then take note of it. You may want to make an appointment with a medical professional. You will be able to address any questions that your medical professional may have. Best of luck, Aziz!

    • Your doctor may be correct. It is always best for people to speak with their doctor or medical professional about their symptoms. Thank you for sharing your comment. Have a great day, Dino!

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