People are born with thousands of taste buds in the tongue and sensory cells in the nose, which help taste and smell different flavors and scents. Metallic taste in mouth is often an unpleasant experience because it interferes with the ability to enjoy meals as usual. It may be caused by anything that affects the normal process of tasting, such as an infection or even aging. Here we examine what factors may cause the metallic taste in the mouth and how to treat it.
Causes of Metallic Taste in Mouth
Sensations are transmitted to the brain, where these are interpreted as sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. However, as one ages, the number of sensory cells in the tongue and nose decreases progressively. At the same time, certain health conditions and environmental factors may interfere with these processes, causing changes in normal perception of taste and smell. There are numerous reasons why you may have metallic taste in mouth.
1. Common conditions, which alter your sense of taste, such as:
- Breathing with your mouth
- Dry mouth
2. Pregnancy, which involves hormonal fluctuations, can affect one’s sense of taste. Estrogen is a hormone, which influences one’s taste and food preferences and can make a pregnant woman experience unusual tastes in the mouth, such as metallic taste. Pregnant women also become more sensitive to odors in the early part of pregnancy, which can affect her sense of taste. Furthermore, a woman’s intake of prenatal vitamins may disturb normal tastes in the mouth.
3. Dietary factors can cause metallic taste in mouth, such as:
- Pine nuts have a bitter taste that may also be perceived as metallic taste
- Certain plankton-eating fish such as sardines, bonefish, tarpons, or herrings can cause clupeotoxin poisoning. Symptoms include metallic taste in mouth, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, dry mouth, diarrhea, dizziness, low blood pressure and bluish lips, fingers and toes. Clupeotoxin poisoning must be treated immediately because it can be fatal.
4. Infectious disease, such as:
- Colds, flu, or other upper respiratory tract infections
- Sinusitis or nasal infection
- Infection of the salivary glands
- Pharyngitis or sore throat
- Strep throat
- Other viral infections
5. Many medications and procedures can alter one’s taste, including:
- Various antibiotics
- Neurological drugs
- Medications for Alzheimer’s disease (Acetylcholine esterase inhibitors)
- Drugs for thyroid dysfunction
- Bronchodilators like albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil)
- Medications for heart failure and high blood pressure like captopril (Capoten)
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Antidepressants like lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith)
- Tuberculosis drugs like rifampicin
- People undergoing radiation or chemotherapy or is under anesthesia
6. Trauma or injuries to your mouth or tongue can affect taste sensation, including:
- Biting your tongue
- Burning the tongue with hot food
- Other injuries to the mouth or nose
7. Other disorders can cause metallic taste in mouth, such as:
- Brain damage or other neurological disorders like Bell’s palsy
- Using dental appliances like braces
- Oral problems like gingivitis or after dental surgery
- Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis)
- Allergies that cause stuffy nose
- Polyps in the nose
- Radiation therapy for the cancer in the head or neck
- Autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome
- Surgery involving the mouth, nose, throat or ears
- Nutritional deficiency (zinc, vitamin B12)
Treatments for Metallic Taste in Mouth
Metallic taste in the mouth may be a temporary symptom or a chronic condition associated with other health problems. If it is a temporary sensation, some home remedies may relieve this unpleasant feeling, such as:
- Maintain oral hygiene. It is important to brush your teeth at least two to three times a day, not forgetting to clean the tongue so as to wash away the metallic taste on the tongue.
- Drink lots of fluids. Drinking water and fruit juices like orange juice and lemonade helps relieve mouth dryness that can lead to metallic taste.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges, tomatoes, lemon, and grape fruit and various vegetables aid in increasing saliva formation, which helps wash away the unpleasant metallic taste.
- Rinse with salt water. Frequently gargling and rinsing the mouth with salt water helps get rid of the disagreeable taste in your mouth.
- Chew condiments. Chewing a small piece of ginger, clove or cardamom during the helps freshen your mouth and reduces metallic taste.
- Use baking soda. Baking soda neutralizes acids and eliminates unpleasant tastes in your mouth. Mix it with salt and use as toothpaste to remove the metallic taste in mouth.
If these home remedies do not eliminate the metallic taste in your mouth, consider the possibility of a health problem, especially if you have other accompanying symptoms. And consult a health care provider to get proper diagnosis and treatment.
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