Dysgeusia or parageusia refers to a metallic (or funny) taste even though nothing is in the mouth. It can sometimes occur with fatigue. Causes include medication use, hay fever, pregnancy, kidney failure, and more.

A metallic, or funny, taste by itself may be due to poor oral health. When a person has both a metallic taste and fatigue, the possible causes can range from medication side effects to more serious underlying medical problems, such as kidney disease.

This article lists and explains eight possible causes of metallic taste and fatigue, the treatment options, and when to see a doctor.

a man holding his temple because he has a metallic taste in mouth and fatigueShare on Pinterest
A sinus infection is a possible cause of a metallic taste and fatigue.

Taste dysgeusia is a lingering, unpleasant sensation in the mouth that causes a person to experience a metallic, foul, or rancid taste. When something alters the typical function of the taste buds and their related nerve pathways, it can result in a taste disorder and fatigue.

More than 200,000 people visit a healthcare professional each year for problems relating to taste or smell. Many conditions and other factors can cause these symptoms.

Hay fever

Common symptoms of hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a stuffy or runny nose.

A person may experience a metallic taste due to inflamed nasal passages that cause a loss or changed sense of smell. Hay fever also often makes a person feel fatigued and irritable.

Sinus, upper respiratory, and ear infections

Infections of the sinuses, ears, and upper airways cause inflammation that can disturb the senses of smell and taste.

Additional symptoms of sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, and ear infections include headaches, fever, nasal congestion, cough, sinus pressure, and ear pain.

Medication side effects

Taste disorders and fatigue are among the side effects of various medications. According to 2019 research, the information about 282 (17%) of the 1,645 drugs registered in the study’s database mentioned dysgeusia.

Some medications that may cause a metallic taste and fatigue include:

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

A vitamin B-12 deficiency can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • shortness of breath
  • pins-and-needles sensation in the hands and feet
  • yellow-tinged skin or jaundice
  • mood changes

A vitamin B-12 deficiency may cause fatigue as it can impair a person’s ability to produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. Severe deficiency may begin affecting the nerves, which may result in a metallic taste in the mouth.


A metallic taste in the mouth is one of the potential early signs of pregnancy. Many people who are pregnant may also experience fatigue.

The hormones in the body fluctuate during pregnancy. This oscillation can affect the senses, which can cause specific cravings and make some foods or smells unappealing.

Individuals may also experience headaches, dizziness, and morning sickness during pregnancy.

Kidney failure

When the kidneys are not functioning properly, waste materials can build up in the blood. This accumulation can cause a person to experience fatigue and a metallic taste in the mouth.

In addition to metallic taste and fatigue, common kidney disease symptoms may include:

  • frequent urination
  • dry and itchy skin
  • puffiness around the eyes
  • swelling in the ankles and feet
  • decreased appetite
  • muscle cramping

Central nervous system disorders

The taste buds send signals to the brain through the cranial nerves. Conditions that can cause an injury to the central nervous system, such as Bell’s palsy, can lead to taste disorders.

Additional symptoms may also be present including:

  • confusion
  • vision problems
  • headache
  • drooling

Cancer treatment

Up to 86% of people undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy (especially to the head and neck region), or both to treat cancer report taste changes.

This change is typically temporary. Various tips are available to help people undergoing cancer treatment enjoy foods as normally as possible. These include:

  • eat small frequent meals or snacks instead of big meals
  • keep snacks handy, such as nuts, dried fruit, or cheese and crackers
  • sip sweet or savory nourishing drinks throughout the day

Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatments that involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, among others.

Other causes

In some cases, a metallic taste in the mouth may accompany nausea or the feeling of being sick. Conditions that can cause this include:

A person experiencing a metallic taste and fatigue should speak with a healthcare professional.

The doctor will ask questions about the person’s symptoms and past medical history. Depending on the answers, they will either conduct a focused exam of the head and neck or perform a full physical exam.

The doctor may also order blood tests or imaging studies, such as a CT scan. In some cases, they might refer the individual to an otolaryngologist — a healthcare professional who specializes in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat.

The treatment for metallic taste and fatigue will depend on the underlying cause.

With some causes, such as pregnancy and cancer treatment, the metallic taste and fatigue will resolve in time. Other causes may require changes to the person’s diet or medications.

A person should always consult a healthcare professional before making any changes to their prescription medications.

Hay fever Allergy medication and avoiding allergy triggers
Sinus, upper respiratory, and ear infectionsDecongestants, saline rinse, and rest
Medication side effectsMedication adjustment or discontinuation and home remedies
Vitamin B-12 deficiencyVitamin B-12 supplements or increased intake of foods high in this vitamin
PregnancyHome remedies and rest
Kidney damageDietary changes, blood pressure control, and medications
Central nervous system disordersIndividualized treatment plan that may include home remedies, corticosteroids, and rest
Cancer treatmentHome remedies and frequent rest periods

The following home remedies may help relieve the metallic taste:

  • eating citrus fruits or sipping juices, such as orange or lemon juice
  • sucking on a piece of lemon candy before meals
  • avoiding using metallic utensils and cookware
  • drinking herbal teas
  • eating yogurt
  • staying well-hydrated
  • brushing the teeth and tongue before meals
  • rinsing with salt water, baking soda, or antibacterial mouthwash before eating

A metallic taste and fatigue may be temporary side effects of medication or symptoms of pregnancy or other conditions.

Often, treating the underlying medical problem will resolve the symptoms. Anyone experiencing a metallic taste and fatigue should speak with a healthcare professional.

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