A diverticulum causes bad breath since the food that collects in the pouches or pockets promotes bacteria in the esophagus that leads to halitosis, a condition characterized by bad breath, explains UW Medicine. A diverticulum develops along the esophagus and pushes outward through the muscular wall.
A diverticulum does not always cause problems, according to UW Medicine. A person might experience food regurgitation when lying down, bending or standing. Besides bad breath, other symptoms a person may experience include dysphagia, weight loss, heart burn, chest pain and chronic coughing. In severe cases, people may have aspiration pneumonia because of food being drawn into the lungs.
Esophageal diverticula can be acquired or congenital, mostly occurring later in life, states UW Medicine. Most of the acquired cases are due to a motility disorder such as achalasia, which is related to malfunctioning of sphincter muscles at the lower or upper end of the esophagus, or along its length. Adults over 50 years, especially those between 70 to 80 years, are at a greater risk of developing a diverticulum. Rarely is this condition diagnosed in children and infants. Diagnostic tests are done to help identify the presence of a diverticulum, but a physical exam could help reveal a bulge in the neck.