Do you have a metallic taste in mouth?
An abnormal sense of taste (i.e. a metallic taste in the mouth) is a disorder known as parageusia. This unpleasant taste can appear suddenly or over longer periods of time. Your sense of taste is controlled by olfactory sensory neurons—these neurons are responsible for your sense of smell.
The nerve endings relay information from the taste buds and olfactory sensory neurons to the brain, which recognizes precise tastes. A number of factors can interrupt this system and result in a metallic taste in the mouth.
What Causes a Metallic Taste In Mouth?
- Prescription drugs: Certain medications such as tetracycline (used to treat gout) and lithium (treats certain psychiatric issues), can cause dry mouth and leave a metallic taste in the mouth. The body absorbs the medication and it can come out in your saliva, resulting in a bad taste.
- Poor oral hygiene: People who do not brush their teeth or floss on a regular basis can develop gingivitis or a tooth infection. The metal taste should clear up once the infection is treated by your dentist.
- Infections: Infections, such as colds and sinusitis, can change your sense of taste. These are temporary issues and will be gone once the infection dissipates.
- Over-the-counter vitamins and medications: Multivitamins that contain heavy metals, such as copper, zinc, and chromium, or cold medications such as zinc lozenges can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Vitamins such as iron or calcium supplements can also cause that metal taste. Once the body processes the vitamins and medicine, the taste will go away.
- Pregnancy: In the early stages of pregnancy, some women report having a metallic taste in their mouths. The cause is unknown, but researchers believe it is caused by the hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy.
- Cancer treatment: The American Cancer Society indicates that certain types of chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause a metallic taste. The side effect is referred to as chemo mouth. Certain vitamin supplements, such as vitamin D or zinc, can help prevent this taste in people who are undergoing radiation therapy.
- Dementia: People who suffer from dementia can experience taste abnormalities, which can cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
- Food allergies: If you experience a distorted taste after eating a certain type of food, such as shellfish or tree nuts, you may be allergic to these foods.
- Middle ear surgery: Middle ear or tube surgery, which is often performed due to chronic ear infections, can damage the chorda tympani, a structure close to the inner ear that controls taste in the rear two-thirds of the tongue. As a result, distorted taste can occur.
Ways to Prevent Metallic Taste in Mouth
For the most part, there is little you can do to prevent that metallic taste in your mouth. However, there are ways you can mask the metallic taste, which may help while you wait for it to go away. Here are some helpful ways you can reduce or temporarily eliminate the taste distortion:
- Try to brush your teeth after every meal
- Use nonmetallic cookware/utensils
- Stay hydrated
- Chew sugar-free gum or mints
- Try different foods, spices, and seasonings
- Try not to smoke cigarettes
When to See Your Doctor
The metallic taste in mouth should gradually go away with time, once the underlying cause of it is treated. Contact your doctor if the taste persists. In most cases, your doctor will refer you to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor). The otolaryngologist may conduct a taste test in order to determine the root cause and the extent of the taste disorder. A taste test will measure a person’s response to different chemicals. If the taste test doesn’t help, the doctor may order imaging studies to take a look at your sinuses.
Don’t take the metallic taste in your mouth lightly. If you discover a bad taste in your mouth, jot down the foods that you have eaten and medications you have taken and speak to your physician to determine the cause.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“8 Possible Causes for That Metallic Taste in Your Mouth,” Cleveland Clinic web site, April 13, 2015; http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/8-possible-causes-for-that-metallic-taste-in-your-mouth/.
Vanijcharoenkarn, K., “What Causes a Metallic Taste in My Mouth?” Healthline web site, April 20, 2015; http://www.healthline.com/health/metallic-taste-in-mouth#Overview1.