08 June 2005

An Uncomfortable Subject

In my post about burns, I mentioned that in the Helicopter Ambulance, smells are a factor. For instance, if the patient moves his/her bowels, it's immediately known by everyone on board!

The R22 I train in is a MUCH smaller bird, so smells are a bigger factor when I'm teaching because I rub shoulders with the student.

What I want to talk about here is halitosis.
Bad breath.
No, make that BAAAAADDD breath!

A paramedic I work with is one of the sweetest, most caring people I have ever met. He knows his business and gives great care to our patients. But when we are on the outbound leg of our flight to pick up the patient, he invariably jumps into the front seat next to me. (This means he would be about as far away as he would be in a mid-size car like a Ford Taurus.)

Getting into the helicopter requires a little exertion, so he is breathing heavily as he enters, and his breath is SO bad, I am immediately uncomfortable!
(Why doesn't his wife tell him?)

I did a little searching......

A full 90% of the time, bad breath is caused by something called "gram negative anaerobic bacteria".

Wow!

It can also be caused, obviously, by dental decay or gum disease, or other medical conditions like carcinomas, diabetes, sinus problems, or menstruation! (And the list of possible causes goes on for about a mile from there!)

There is a direct correlation between bacteria in the mouth and cardiac problems. I'll not list the problems you expose yourself to if you're not brushing your teeth properly, but if you have halitosis or gum problems, you are greatly increasing your chances of having a heart attack.......did ya know that?!

I am as thick skinned as anyone you are likely to meet. If my breath was so bad that I was offensive, I'd want someone to tell me so I could take care of the problem!

But I realize others might be embarrassed having someone tell them they need to check into why their breath is causing people to leave the party early!

Do you know a "socially acceptable" way to handle this situation?
I'd love to hear it!

1 comment:

clint said...

That's quite a problem. You might want to carry an extra stick of gum or lifesavers in the event he sits up front with you again. You can take a piece and then offer it to him. Just keep doing that every time he sits with you. eventually he will get the message.
---or---
You can just tell him that he needs some gum to freshen up his breath and offer some to him. He might appreciate the fact you went out on a limb to tell him this.