Taste involves various neurological functions. When a person notices a metallic taste in the mouth, it can be due to several factors, including changes in health, diet, or medication.
The tongue has thousands of sensory organs called taste buds and taste papillae. Smell, texture, and temperature also contribute to taste.
If a person experiences changes in their health, diet, or medication, they may perceive taste differently.
Dysgeusia is the name for a
In this article, learn more about a metallic taste in the mouth, including causes, symptoms, and home remedies.
Several factors can trigger a metallic taste in the mouth. The problem may go away without intervention or when a person makes a lifestyle change, such as stopping a certain medication.
Sometimes, however, it can indicate an underlying condition that needs medical attention.
The following sections describe some potential causes of a metallic taste in the mouth.
Poor oral health
People who do not brush their teeth or floss regularly may experience changes in taste, including a metallic taste.
Reasons for this include:
- bacterial infections, such as gingivitis or periodontitis
- fungal infections
- trauma to the mouth, including tooth removal
- ulcers and other complications of ill-fitting dentures
Treating any infections and maintaining good oral hygiene may help prevent or resolve a metallic taste in the mouth.
Because smell and taste are so closely linked, sinus issues can impair a person’s sense of taste or cause a metallic taste in the mouth. A blocked nose is one symptom of a sinus issue.
Once the sinus problem subsides, the metallic taste should also go away.
Sinus problems are very common and include:
- the common cold
- sinus infections
- nasal polyps
- middle ear infection or other upper respiratory infections
- recent middle ear surgery
People with sinusitis
Sjögren disease is a type of sicca syndrome. People with other sicca syndromes also experience a dry mouth and a metallic taste.
Some medications can cause an aftertaste as the body absorbs them.
People who use metformin, for example, often say they have a lingering metallic taste in the mouth. Metformin is a diabetes treatment.
Some other medications that can cause a metallic taste in the mouth include those for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as:
- some antibiotics, such as metronidazole
- acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, for Alzheimer’s disease
- systemic anesthesia (in rare cases)
- some thyroid medications
- adenosine (in fewer than 1% of people)
- angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
- lithium, a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder
- Paxlovid, an antiviral for COVID-19
- ethionamide, an antibacterial treatment for tuberculosis
- lorcainide hydrochloride for arrhythmia
- gallium nitrate for reducing high blood calcium levels
In addition, some drugs — such as
Acid reflux can cause changes to people’s sense of taste. When stomach acid travels back up through the esophagus, many people experience a bitter taste, but some people may perceive it as metallic.
This can be due to the treatment itself or its complications, such as mouth ulcers.
- Avoid using metal eating utensils.
- Use sugar-free lemon drops or mint.
- Opt for fresh or frozen foods rather than canned.
- Add flavors such as lemon, spices, and mint to foods.
- Brush the teeth regularly.
- Use a mouthwash before eating.
- Eat foods cold or at room temperature.
- Opt for chicken, tofu, or dairy products instead of red meat.
The taste should go away as the body absorbs the vitamins.
Read about what causes a metallic taste and fatigue.
The National Health Service (NHS) suggests that early pregnancy often causes taste changes, including a metallic taste in the mouth.
Pregnancy can also cause cravings or a dislike for certain foods. Both of these symptoms tend to go away with time.
Because the taste buds send signals to the brain, taste changes can occur if part of the brain is not working as it should.
A metallic taste in the mouth can sometimes be a symptom of Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is an autoimmune condition that affects the peripheral nervous system.
A metallic taste can be an early
If a person develops itching, hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing after exposure to a possible allergen, they need immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis can be life threatening.
People with end-stage kidney disease often complain of a metallic taste in their mouth.
- high levels of urea and other substances in the body
- low levels of zinc
- metabolic changes
- the use of medication
- a lower number of taste buds
- a change in the flow and composition of saliva
A metallic taste in the mouth is not usually a cause for concern. However, a person should see their doctor if:
- the taste does not go away
- there are other symptoms
- there is no obvious cause for the change
If the taste develops after starting a certain medication, a doctor may be able to change the drug type or dosage.
To diagnose the cause of this symptom, a doctor may refer someone to an otolaryngologist. This is a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat.
Diagnosis may involve:
- a physical examination of the ears, nose, and throat
- a dental exam to determine oral hygiene
- a review of the person’s health history and medications
- a taste test to diagnose any taste-related disorders
- other tests to help determine the underlying cause
Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe treatment for the metallic taste itself or an underlying cause of the issue.
Making changes to diet or lifestyle habits may help remove the metallic taste.
- Avoid smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Brush the teeth and floss regularly.
- Chew sugar-free gum or eat sugar-free mints.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about a metallic taste in the mouth.
How can I get rid of a metallic taste in my mouth?
If there is an underlying medical condition, such as tooth decay or Sjögren disease, treating this condition may help improve the taste. People who experience a metallic taste with medication use can ask their doctor if an alternative is available. Home remedies
What deficiency causes a metallic taste in the mouth?
There is a lack of evidence to show that specific deficiencies cause a metallic taste in the mouth, although it can occur with end-stage liver failure, according to some
Dysgeusia is when a person has a metallic taste in their mouth. It can happen for many reasons. In some cases, an underlying health condition or treatment for a disease can be the cause.
Other causes include problems with oral health, such as mouth ulcers and dentures that do not fit correctly. Asking a dentist for advice may help find a solution.
Everyday practices to reduce the risk include avoiding smoking and alcohol, drinking plenty of water, and chewing sugar-free gum.