9 Reasons You Have a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
You jump out of bed, throw on some clothes and dash out, the alarm clock didn’t wake you up when you it expected it too and now you’re late for work.
However, on your way, you notice that there’s a horrible, weird taste in your mouth.
What could it be?
It tastes like you had some rusted old coins for breakfast or you snacked on a bowl full of metal spoons.
Now except you love having coins in your milk instead of cornflakes during breakfast (which by the way I wouldn’t recommend as a healthy breakfast), the presence or assault of this weird taste seems to be out of place.
As it turns out though, this strange taste in your mouth is quite common and most times it is a symptom of various background issues.
There are numerous reasons behind this metallic taste and they can range from negligible to very urgent.
Hence, it’s very critical to notice how frequently you experience this unpleasant taste in your mouth and any other symptom that comes alongside it.
One of the best ways to know the reason for the metallic taste is to keep tabs on when and how it occurs and what is associated with it.
Pen down every instance it occurs as soon as you start to taste it and look for any similarities between two incidences.
Your body is great at passing the message across as to what is happening to it, but you’ll have to look intently at the signs it gives to know the right steps to take in order to maintain your health.
If you’ve ever experienced this unpleasant, weird metallic taste in your mouth, read on to find out 9 reasons that could be behind this odd occurrence.
1. Kidney and Liver Disease
Known as the silent disease, because of how it causes harm to the body without being noticed, Kidney disease is a deadly one.
However, many people miss out on its early symptoms or are simply not aware of that could be a symptom.
In the United States alone studies have shown that 1 in 7 of Americans or 30 million Americans are suffering from kidney disease, which is a whopping 15 percent of the nation’s population.
A survey was carried out with the purpose of finding out the correlation between taste distortion and chronic kidney disease (CKD) and 96.60% of the respondents who were CKD patients showed significant correlation with taste distortion.
This is why you must never take the metallic taste in your mouth for granted.
It could be indicative of kidney issues, meaning that these vital organs aren’t filtering out the right substances out of your body.
It could also mean that you have liver disease especially if the metallic taste is quite bitter. This could imply that your liver isn’t doing what it’s meant to do and is backed up full with bile.
However, if it tastes ammonia-like, it could very well be a symptom of a kidney challenge, due to ammonia being a content of urine.
This taste occurs in your mouth because it is not being flushed out or expelled by your kidneys.
Ensure you consult your doctor if you notice such symptoms as it could be an indication of diabetes as well.
2. Prescribed Drugs or Medication
Certain kinds of prescribed medications can cause impairment of taste buds.
Medications like antibiotics such as clarithromycin, tetracycline, and metronidazole as well as medications for blood pressure, medication for glaucoma, and drugs used to treat psychiatric conditions, calcium or iron supplement and other kinds of medications can leave a metallic taste in your mouth after you take them.
When you take these kinds of drugs, your body absorbs the medicine and it will begin to come out in the saliva and since the saliva is manufactured by the tongue where you have your taste buds, you will begin to have a metallic taste in your mouth.
Most often when you stop taking the prescribed medication, the metallic taste in your mouth will eventually disappear.
Once the medicine or vitamins are processed the metallic taste will stop. If it doesn’t stop once you are done with the medication, then you should talk to your doctor.
3. Cancer Treatment
Cancer patients who are undergoing radiation and chemotherapy can experience some sort of distortion in their taste buds.
In addition, bitter drugs given to cancer patients get into the bloodstream of the patients and it leaves a metallic taste in the mouth of the patient.
The metallic taste that chemotherapy or radiation leaves in the mouth of the patient is often referred to as “chemo mouth.”
The metallic taste felt by cancer patients is not a strange occurrence, in fact, the American Cancer Society recognizes this and also suggests that taking vitamin supplements such as vitamin D and zinc will help to prevent or control the metallic taste.
So if you are a cancer patient and you have a metallic taste in your mouth, there is no cause for alarm, it’s most likely just a side effect of the chemotherapy and radiation.
Another possible cause of metallic taste is an infection.
Cold, sinuses and upper respiratory tract infections can leave a metallic taste in your mouth.
The taste will remain as long as the infection remains and will go away when the infection is treated.
Your sense of smell and your taste bud are closely related and if anything goes wrong with your respiratory system, the effect may spill over and affect your taste bud that’s why a sinus or repository infection will cause you to feel a metallic taste in your mouth for as long as the infection remains.
Research shows that odor can get to the olfactory epithelium which connects the back of the oral cavity and the nasal cavity.
This is a very important pathway that is responsible for the intricate relationship between the sense of taste and smell.
Once the smell of the food gets to the nasal cavity, the taste buds will be stimulated immediately and this is why once a person has a cold or a respiratory infection, it becomes hard for him to taste food properly.
This is because even though there is nothing wrong with the taste receptors, the blocking of access to the olfactory epithelium cases difficulty in the proper functioning of the taste buds.
So in essence, when your nose is congested due to an infection, the mucus which is associated with the infection is responsible for the metallic taste in your mouth, this is because the mucus in the throat and nose will be tasted on the tongue hence the unappealing metallic taste.
In situations like this, you do not need to panic or be scared, just focus on treating the respiratory infection, once the infection is handled, the metallic taste will vanish and your taste buds will return to normal.
In addition, a Central Nervous System Disorder can cause you to feel a metallic taste in your mouth.
Once there is a problem with your nervous system, a signal is sent to the rest of your body and that includes your taste buds and this could lead to the distortion or impairment of taste buds. Such Central Nervous System related issues can be Bell’s palsy or stroke.
A lot of changes occur in the body of a woman when she is pregnant and the effects of these changes are evident in various areas.
Some pregnant women have issues with distortion of their taste buds during the early stages of their pregnancy and this can translate to having a metallic taste in the mouth.
A study showed that during pregnancy, the repository mucosa of the woman swells and this causes an increase in the flow of blood which results in nasal congestion.
Due to the relationship between the nose and the tongue, there is bound to be an effect of this on the tongue or the bud.
This situation becomes heightened during cold and dry weather and to subdue the nasal congestion, there needs to be an increase in the intake of fluid or a humidifier should be used.
Although the real cause of the change in taste bud is not known, the metallic taste can be attributed to changes in the hormones which a woman experiences in the early stages of pregnancy.
A particular school of thought believes that this change in the taste bud and the metallic taste could be due to the fact that the sense of smell becomes heightened during pregnancy and because of the connection between the sense of smell and taste; the taste buds will also be affected.
Even though the metallic taste is experienced by pregnant women, it doesn’t last throughout the entire period of pregnancy; it usually starts in the first trimester and goes away within or after the end of the second trimester.
6. Food Allergies
Allergic reaction to certain kinds of food can cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
There are certain foods that can cause allergic reactions such as tree nuts like pine nuts and seafood such as shellfish are known to cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
People who have pine nut syndrome have allergic reactions to pine nuts and will most likely experience a metallic taste in their mouth for about twelve to forty-eight hours after eating line nuts.
A research that was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that 3.6 percent of the 2.7 million patients that received medical care in Boston had allergies or intolerance to different kinds of food.
Even though this figure may not look like it’s much, it actually indicates that food allergies are a regular occurrence but they require medical attention. Below is a graph showing the prevalence of food allergies in the United States.
In addition, a metallic taste in the mouth could be an early symptom that you are about to experience a serious allergic reaction which is also known as anaphylactic shock.
Most often when you eat something that doesn’t go down well with your system you will begin to feel a metallic taste in your mouth and this is often followed by other symptoms like sweating, disorientation, headache and even itching on different parts of your body like feet, mouth, and hands.
Other adverse symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing and breathing as well as swellings on the tinge and face will proceed after a short while.
This kind of allergic reaction to food doesn’t just affect your taste bud; it can also endanger your life.
So, if you notice a metallic taste on your mouth immediately after eating a particular kind of food, it is a warning signal that your system is reacting to the food and it is highly advisable that you seek medical help immediately.
Once you get to the hospital, you will be accessed by a doctor and if the need arises, you will be placed in an emergency room and administered airway support or supplement oxygen and other kinds of medication that is necessary.
Don’t take the metallic taste in the mouth for granted especially when you just finished eating a particular kind of food that is known to cause allergies in most people.
Once you notice it and you suspect that it is an allergy, speak to your doctor immediately.
7. Poor/Bad Oral Hygiene
If you have a metallic taste in your mouth, it could be due to the fact that you do not pay much attention to your oral health.
Not brushing or flossing your teeth regularly could lead to gum and teeth related problems such as periodontitis and gingivitis and this could result in having a metallic taste in your mouth.
The taste dysfunction caused by not taking proper care of your oral health will most likely go away when the infection caused by poor hygiene is treated.
To avoid developing any gum related disease, which would result in having a metallic taste, it is important to pay attention to your oral hygiene.
Change your toothbrush regularly, you also need to brush and floss regularly, purchase good quality toothpaste and mouthwash and most importantly, ensure you visit your dentist once every six months.
When you visit your dentist, you will be checked to see if there is anything wrong with your oral health and if there is any problem; your dentist will prescribe the appropriate medication to you.
When next you have a metallic taste in your mouth, do a quick check and ensure that your oral health is intact, if it isn’t then that’s probably the reason why you have the metallic taste.
8. Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is a vital mineral required by your body for immune system function, growth and catalyzing certain enzymes.
When your diet is deficient of adequate zinc intake or if you have a medical condition that prevents the absorption of zinc, it could lead to a deficiency which has various health consequences, one of which is taste distortion conditions such as hypogeusia, dysgeusia or a blunted taste sense.
Dysgeusia or that weird metallic feeling in your mouth has been associated with zinc deficiency based on numerous research carried out.
There are several symptoms that accompany that metallic taste when it’s related to zinc deficiency some of which include reduced mental function, anorexia, and a damaged sense of smell.
Even though zinc is vital for the health of your taste bud, the complete mechanism of how zinc deficiency relates with taste buds isn’t totally understood.
However, it is known that zinc is needed to produce alkaline phosphatase, which is the most important enzyme on your taste bud membranes.
Zinc is also a part of the salivary protein required for the maintenance and development of taste buds.
9. Mercury Poisoning
Ever wondered how harmful mercury is to your body? Well, scorecard carried out a study which shows that it’s among the top 10% of the most harmful chemicals to human health.
Asides from this, mercury is seen as a developmental toxicant which means that it causes very negative implications during pregnancy.
Mercury poisoning comes as a result of exposure to excess mercury, mainly through your diet or the environment.
Most often you can get mercury poisoning from seafood consumption. As the levels of mercury in your body increase, a lot of symptoms appear — one of which is a metallic taste in your mouth.
As an adult, if you have mercury poisoning asides from metallic taste in your mouth, you could also feel muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, vomiting or nausea.
So if you experience any of these other symptoms alongside that awful metallic taste in your mouth it could mean you have mercury poisoning.
HOW TO GET RID OF METALLIC TASTE
When you first begin to have this metallic taste in your mouth, it may seem alarming at first but keep in mind that it is caused by various factors and not just the serious ones.
If you’re on some medications such as prenatal vitamins, certain antibiotics, antidepressants or some high blood pressure, kidney stones or rheumatoid arthritis drugs they can be the reason for the terrible taste.
However, even though this unpleasant taste can be quite unpleasant it can be gotten rid of when it isn’t related to serious illnesses.
You can reduce the taste by sucking on lemon drops, chewing on gum, licking hard candies, rinsing your mouth with tea, club soda, ginger ale, or fruit juice right before you eat.
In cases where the metallic taste is there to stay for a while especially when as a result of chemotherapy or kidney challenges, you may have to change your protein diet to eggs, peanut butter, beans, fish and dairy products as meat and poultry would be intolerable.
Dairy products that would be tolerable are yogurts and ice cream.
If you suspect that the reason for the metallic taste in your mouth is quite serious, you should definitely visit a doctor.
The doctor would then refer you to an otolaryngologist, who is a medical practitioner that specializes in ear, throat and nose diseases.
The initial step the doctor would most likely follow to find the reason behind the unpleasant taste in your mouth includes:
a) A dental test to determine your oral hygiene
b) Your general medical history
c) A taste test to diagnose the presence of taste disorders. This test involves testing various substances in order to gauge your ability to pick up the changes in taste intensity.
Additionally, as a patient you may have to do a sip, spit and rinse test to determine diagnose taste disorders.
However, if the medical specialist believes the reason for the taste distortion is from nerves in your head or mouth, then they may carry out an X-ray.
Based on the final diagnoses, the medical practitioner would most likely prescribe a drug to relieve the unpleasant taste. If it’s a serious situation then you’d be referred to a specialist.
Having that metallic taste in your mouth is an awful experience. The taste could be mild or strong, and it could happen all of a sudden or it may have been a lingering taste in your mouth.
Basically, it tastes just like you licked an old penny, or sometimes it could taste like blood but your mouth isn’t bleeding.
As we have already seen this unpleasant and mysterious taste can be caused by unserious issues or sometimes major issues.
To be able to identify the difference, pay deep focus to the taste, what you did before it came and other symptoms that appear alongside it.
Keep in mind that not every metallic taste in your mouth could mean that you have a terminal disease, ensure that you interpret the symptoms adequately before losing your wits.
It’s also vital to state that you do not have to go through the whole day with that taste in your mouth. By taking certain dairy products you can easily get your taste bud in order before eating a full meal.
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