Why Is My Breath Really Hot? Is It Serious?

If you’re sick and the thermometer shows your body temperature is above 36-37 °C (or 96.8 to 98.6 °F), then that would make sense that your breath feels really hot. An increase in your body temperature, as what happens when you have a fever, is a sign that your body is initiating an immune response to fight an infection from microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. Emotional issues such as like anxiety or stress may also be the culprit here. However, these can be resolved with taking rest, more fluid intake, and a little change in your diet and lifestyle.

When you face your palm on your mouth or nose and breathe out, you may feel the warm air you exhaled. It is normal because your body is alive and releases heat. There are also times when you might feel you’re breathing out cold air.

However, you may notice your breath hotter, when your surrounding is cold. It’s because your body temperature is higher than the environment you’re in.

So, you assume that breathing hot air is a sign of an underlying disease? Maybe you’re right! Below are some health conditions that may be the culprit of your hot breath.

Fever

There are a lot of reasons why you’re running a fever. If you’re breathing hot air but the thermometer doesn’t show any rise in your temperature, you are experiencing an “internal” fever.

It shows similar symptoms to a normal/common fever, but when you ask someone to touch your forehead or palms, they won’t feel you hot, or the temperature will stay at 36 to 37 °C.

The following are symptoms of a common fever:

  • Feeling lethargic
  • Feeling of discomfort/uneasiness (malaise)
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chills or shivers
  • Cold sweats
  • Feeling hot inside

Fever or an “internal” fever occurs when your immune system fights infection from viruses, fungi, bacteria, or parasites.

It may also indicate other underlying health conditions. So, when your internal system is hot, it may happen the air you breathe out is hot, too.

Sometimes, an “internal” fever may be due to:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Period (in women)
  • Fatigue from heavy or overexercising

Usually, your fever will subside once your immune system has eliminated the infections. Most people need medications like antibiotics or treatments done at the hospital. Make sure to visit your doctor if symptoms persist.

In the case of an “internal” fever, you should:

  • Have a good rest
  • Take a warm bath
  • Drink lots of fluid 

If necessary, only take medications after you check in with your doctor, especially when you experience:

  • Sudden rise in your temperature
  • Loss of stamina
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain or sore throat
  • Coughing 
  • Bleeding through the nose, anus, or vagina

Check your temperature regularly and take over-the-counter drugs to lower it down. If it still increases to 40°C, seek medical help immediately as this may indicate a severe infection or other complications in your body.

Sinusitis and allergic rhinitis

Sinusitis occurs when there is an irritation or inflammation in your sinuses caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Allergic rhinitis happens when you inhale allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.

Both may cause a rise in your temperature or fever, runny or stuffy nose, headache, and nasal congestion. Please visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatments.

You may control your symptoms if you have allergic rhinitis through:

  • Antihistamine or nasal sprays
  • Avoiding the allergens
  • Keeping your environment dust or pollen free
  • Staying away from your fur pets (just until necessary)

In addition, your doctor may treat your sinusitis through:

  • Antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection
  • Nasal spray decongestant to reduce the inflammation from a viral infection

Silent reflux

A young woman is having a burning sensation in her throat and is clenching her throat with both hands, she might have silent reflux.

Silent reflux or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) occurs when the acids in your stomach flow back into your esophagus then, into your throat (pharynx), and lastly, into your voice box (larynx).

At first, it doesn’t present any symptoms, unlike in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

However, as time passes, symptoms may arise, such as:

  • A burning sensation at the back of your mouth or in your throat
  • A bitter taste in your throat
  • Hoarseness and sore throat
  • Excessive throat clearing
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Asthma
  • The feeling of something dripping from your nose into your throat

If your hot breath comes along with the symptoms mentioned above, it could be due to silent reflux. Your doctor may prescribe you medicines that will stop or reduce the acids that your stomach produces.

A few diet and lifestyle changes may also help you treat your condition:

  • Exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Eat slowly or have smaller meals
  • Do not lie down immediately after eating
  • Avoid drinking acidic or alcoholic beverages
  • Quit smoking (if you were)
  • Elevate your head at least 2-4 inches when lying down

On the other hand, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) presents symptoms such as discomfort in your chest, heartburn, excessive burping or hiccupping, and bad breath.

Consult your doctor if your hot breath is caused by either two of these conditions. 

Anxiety or stress

Yes, you read that right! Your hot breath could be due to emotional issues. The hormones in your body initiate the “fight or flight response” if you’re stressed or anxious.

It causes increased heart rate, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, nervousness, and suffocation. It may also happen that you’ll feel really hot and need more air, thus rapid or heavy breathing.

As you take in more air and breathe it out, you release the heat from your system. Your body attempts to calm and bring your temperature down.

The only way to help you with these conditions is to give more time to yourself, especially if you’re working or studying too much.

You could do any of the following:

  • Go travel
  • Take a walk
  • Do yoga or meditate
  • Read a book
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do the things you love that gives you relaxation
  • A sip of hot tea might also help
  • Allow yourself to sleep at least 6-8 hours at night

If your symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to talk with your healthcare provider. It might be hard for you but think about how you’ll get better in time. You may have had to undergo psychotherapy and receive medications.

FAQs

Does hot breath mean I have lung cancer?

Now, don’t panic! It would be best if you didn’t overthink anymore. The thing is, researchers of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress performed an experiment to test if breath temperatures can be a signal for lung cancer.

Higher breath temperatures have been proven to indicate airway inflammation and the formation of new blood vessels that may supply the growth of cancer cells in the lungs.

The results showed that 96% of the population with breath temperatures over 34°C have lung cancer.

However, the researchers want to do further research and tests as there may be other factors affecting the higher breath temperatures in people. 

The takeaway

It is always best to monitor and listen to your body when sudden symptoms such as breathing hot air occur. You could always start by grabbing a thermometer to check your temperature if you’re running a fever.

Remember that fever, whether an “internal” fever or the common one, is just a sign of other possible health issues. So, it’s always the best option to check with your doctor, especially when your temperature doesn’t go down after taking medicines.

As much as possible, avoid exposure to extreme heat or intense cold, take time to relax your body, and eat a healthy balanced meal.