A metallic taste in the mouth is a seriously unpleasant feeling. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what causes it and how to get rid of it. While some causes are dangerous, others can have dire consequences if ignored.
In this article, we have brought together 14 possible reasons you can have a metallic taste in your mouth.
14 Reasons You Have Metallic Taste in Your Mouth (Some of Them are not So Obvious)
1. You Have Poor Dental Hygiene
If you do not brush and floss regularly, your mouth will suffer. Avoiding routine visits to the dentist will compound the problem.
Over time, you may develop bad breath and swollen or bloody gums. Blood is rich in iron and tastes metallic. The conditions accompanying bloody gums can lead to tooth loss and jawbone degradation.
To avoid these outcomes, and remove the metallic taste, get a thorough dental cleaning and improve your hygiene.
2. Your Medicine or Supplements Are Causing It
Many prescription medications can change your sense of taste. Some distort the taste signals on their way to the brain, while others change the chemistry in your body.
Several even contain high levels of metal.
The sense of taste returns to normal within a few days after you stop taking medicine or supplements causing it.
The following types of medication can cause a metallic taste in the mouth:
- Antibiotics, antifungals
- Antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics
- Blood pressure and diabetes medications
- Glaucoma and osteoporosis treatments
Over-the-counter medications and supplements
- Nicotine Patches
- Vitamins, especially iron, calcium, chromium, and copper supplements
3. An Infection is Distorting Your Sense of Taste
Anything that affects the ears, nose, or throat can change your sense of taste.
Common colds, sinus infections, and upper respiratory infections will often mute your sense of taste or give you a ‘metal mouth.’
Moreover, nasal polyps can cause a metallic taste in your mouth.
Finally, ear surgery or middle ear infections can disrupt the nearby nerves. Nerves in this area account for over 2/3 of your sense of taste.
Metallic tastes generally leave once the infection disappears.
4. You May Have a Chemo Mouth
Cancers of the neck, head, and mouth can cause a metallic taste if they degrade the nerves in the area.
The most common cancer treatments can also cause you to taste metal.
Chemotherapy alters your body’s chemistry, affecting your sense of taste. In addition, radiation therapy can cause serious inflammation.
Doses of vitamin D and zinc may reduce the metal taste from cancer medication.
5. Pregnancy Affects Human Taste
According to Healthline, some women report a metallic taste in their mouths during pregnancy.
This is because the female body undergoes many hormonal changes during pregnancy.
These changes may be responsible for the strong cravings, aversions, and sharpened sense of smell expecting mothers often have.
Some doctors believe the metallic taste is related to these conditions, but it is not fully understood.
Prenatal vitamins can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth, as they are rich in iron.
6. Your Allergies Are Acting Up
Allergic reactions can affect the ears, throat, and mouth and cause a change in taste.
According to National Health Service (NHS), a strong metallic flavor in the mouth is most common with tree nut and shellfish allergies.
If your allergies are minor, you can use an antihistamine to prevent a reaction.
Unfortunately, allergies to nuts and shellfish are often severe and can cause a potentially fatal condition called anaphylaxis.
A metallic taste is also an early symptom of anaphylaxis and is a sign you should seek immediate medical attention.
Other symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Itchy mouth and throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling throat and trouble breathing
- Dizziness and fainting
7. You Have Been Exposed to a Toxic Chemical or Metal
Many chemicals and toxic metals can cause a metallic taste in your mouth.
Fortunately, most people do not encounter these toxins in their households every day. However, industrial materials may find their way home with someone who works with them.
Lead can enter your home through the water supply, pottery, paint, and cosmetics. Mercury can leak out of thermometers and industrial equipment.
Both these metals are very poisonous, especially to children.
8. Your Nervous System is Damaged
Anything that disrupts the nerves that run from the mouth to the brain can change your sense of taste.
Certain diseases that affect the brain might cause a metallic taste in your mouth.
Moreover, brain injuries or surgery can cause permanent adjustments for all your senses, including taste.
The following disorders of the nervous system can cause a metallic taste in your mouth:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Bell’s Palsy
9. You Have Renal Failure
According to Kidney Health Australia, kidneys filter waste out of your blood. When their function ceases, the waste builds up in your blood and can cause a metallic taste in your mouth.
The change in taste can come from several different complications of kidney failure. These complications include zinc deficiency, disrupted taste buds, and a change in saliva composition.
Other symptoms of kidney failure include:
- Fluid retention
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Lack of energy
- Itchy skin
- Feeling confused
- Aching legs
- Bone disease
- Hair loss
- Changes in memory
Stanford Health Centre includes the following as symptoms of acute kidney failure:
- Unusual bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Pale skin
- Eye inflammation
Some medications used to treat renal failure can cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
10. You Are Diabetic
Diabetes can cause a metallic taste in your mouth for several different reasons.
Several diabetes medications will cause it on their own. Type I diabetics experience a sweet or metallic taste when their blood sugar gets too high.
On the other hand, people with type II diabetes often suffer from electrolyte imbalances and zinc deficiencies, both of which alter taste.
Low blood sugar in Type II diabetics can also cause a metallic taste.
Although the exact cause is unknown, this taste change can affect anyone with low blood sugar.
11. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Has Caused a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is also called acid reflux. It can happen to anyone, including children.
You may suffer from acid reflux if you consume a lot of acidic or spicy food.
Another common cause of acid reflux is alcohol consumption.
When you have this condition, your stomach pushes its acidic fluid toward your throat, thus creating a burning sensation in your mouth.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), you may develop gastroesophageal reflux disease when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t.
12. You have been bitten by an insect
If you are stung by wasps, bees, or horseflies, your body will react to it and activate your immune system to contain it.
The matter may surface as a severe allergic reaction involving swollen and painful skin.
However, sometimes the reaction may go beyond that, causing breathing difficulty or dizziness.
During such a situation, your mouth may taste metallic.
13. You have Sjögren’s syndrome
If you have Sjögren’s syndrome, you may experience smell and taste disorders. Your mouth may feel dry, constantly spreading a metallic taste across it.
According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022), the condition impairs a person’s cognitive function.
It has a noticeable impact on saliva flow, the central nervous system, and sensory organs.
14. You suffer from chronic indigestion
National Health Service (NHS) considers indigestion a defined cause of a metallic taste in the mouth.
If you are burping or have heartburn, you may suffer from indigestion. In addition, you may start losing weight.
The reason is that you feel you are always full and do not need to eat your meal. The problem becomes more complicated when anything you raise to your mouth tastes bitter.
You may also have bloody vomit.
10 ways to get rid of the metallic taste in your mouth
- Drink plenty of water; stay hydrated
- Treat your mouth for infections. See a dentist as soon as you can.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water. This is only a temporary relief
- Use a dentist-recommended mouthwash
- Eat nutritious food. Many dentists will recommend a lifestyle change
- Avoid using metal utensils
- Stop smoking
- Quit alcohol consumption
- Do not skip daily brushing and flossing
- Maintain good oral hygiene
Dementias can disable the areas of the brain that keep the sense of smell and taste fresh. With a brain not working properly or working at all, anyone will have problems knowing what they smell or taste. That’s why some dementia patients may feel their mouth tastes metallic.
Absolutely. If suffering from anxiety, you may have a burning mouth syndrome. This includes having a metallic taste in your mouth, among others. Depression interrupts the production of saliva in your mouth. At the same time, it sharpens your body’s ability to respond to subtle changes. This is a natural process.
- Medical News Today. ‘What causes a sweet taste in the mouth?’
- Kidney Health Australia. ‘Common Kidney Disease Symptoms and Management Options.’
- Stanford Health Center. ‘Kidney Failure Symptoms.’
- Healthline. ‘The Metallic Taste in Your Mouth During Pregnancy.’
- Błochowiak, Katarzyna. Smell and Taste Function and Their Disturbances in Sjögren’s Syndrome. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022 Oct; 19(19): 12472.
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