Bad Breath in traumatic brain injury


I asked the neurosurgeon why the patient's with traumtic brain injury tend to have a specific smell on their breath regardless of bathing, oral care etc. He was able to explain that the smell is due to glutamate that is released by the death of breain cells. There is not anything that can be done to remove the smell.

Red Kryptonite

2,212 Posts

Specializes in hospice. Has 3 years experience.

Hmmm, very interesting. I work hospice so I'll remember this the next time we get a brain-injured patient. :up:

vanilla bean

861 Posts

Interesting - I always wondered about that. You also piqued my curiosity, so I just spent the last hour googling and reading about glutamate and glutamate storm. Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting about your inquiry!

Specializes in Emergency Department; Neonatal ICU. Has 5 years experience.

Interesting. I have never heard of this and I have seen traumatically brain injured patients but only in the ED. I see you are in the neuro ICU so I assume this develops later?


117 Posts

Specializes in Critical care. Has 13 years experience.

I've always been led to believe that "head injury breath" as we call it was because of blood/CSF/goo, so this is interesting. I'll have a little look about on the internets when I'm off in a few days time :)