Dear Annie: Recently, my family vacationed with several other families. Four of us stayed in the same hotel. Since we all have 15-year-old sons, we allowed the boys to have a room to themselves. Two of us had rooms on either side of the boys.

About 2 a.m., I was awakened by rowdiness in the boys' room. I knocked on the door and asked to see my son. While standing in the doorway, I could smell alcohol in the room. My son said he had not been drinking, and I believe him.

What would be the right thing to do in this situation? The other boys are not my responsibility, and I don't feel right reprimanding them. I did not want to discipline my son and embarrass him in front of his friends for fear of his being ostracized. Should I tell the other parents about the drinking or just keep my mouth shut? I don't want to lose these friendships. — Confused Parent in the East

Dear Confused: You have an obligation to inform the other parents that you smelled alcohol in the boys' room. What they do with that information is between them and their children. Try not to sound judgmental or upset, and if they choose to discuss it with you further, fine, but the choice should be theirs.

Dear Annie: This is in regard to "Stinky in New York," who has terrible breath. There may be a less expensive and time-consuming evaluation and treatment of this symptom.

I am a practicing otolaryngologist, and I see many patients with halitosis. Probably the most common causes arise from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or the more recently described laryngopharyngeal reflux disease. Another common cause is chronic cryptic tonsillitis, in which food debris and bacteria collect in the tonsils; and with lesser frequency, chronic sinusitis and an infected Tornwaldt's bursa (a pocket in the throat behind the nose). In the older population, chronic lung disease may be a factor.

Most of these diseases are relatively easily treated, and those patients in whom treatment is successful are extremely grateful. — Hugh N. Hazenfield, M.D., F.A.C.S., University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine

Dear Dr. Hazenfield: Many thanks for your additional information and helpful suggestions. Here's one more on the subject:

Dear Annie: I bet anything that "Stinky" has celiac disease. Eating products containing gluten when you are gluten intolerant gives you AWFUL breath. Please have this person contact a specialist immediately. — Lynne

Dear Annie: I admire the woman who asked how to donate her body for scientific research. Please mention another aspect of donations — those in need of a transplant.

At this moment, there are 82,880 individuals awaiting a transplant in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. My 26-year-old son is on this list. He contracted hepatitis C through transfusions at birth.

In the U.S., one must actively express an interest in becoming a donor, either by signing a consent form or the back of one's driver's license. I feel a better way is to presume consent unless one opts not to donate. That means everyone is automatically a donor unless they specify otherwise. Until then, I hope your readers, age 18 and older, will consider signing to be a potential donor. — Ventura, Calif.

Dear Ventura: Thank you for reminding our readers of the importance of organ donation. Anyone who wants more information can contact The Living Bank, P.O. Box 6725, Houston, TX 77265, 1-800-528-2971 (livingbank.org).


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.