Does everything taste a bit strange? A number of health concerns can lead to a metallic or bad taste in the mouth.
Struggling with a strange metallic taste in your mouth? Medically known as dysgeusia, a number of different health concerns can impact your tastebuds and taste disorders are common in adults.
If you are experiencing dysgeusia your perception of taste may be altered, with everything tasting sweet, sour, bitter, or even metallic. We look at the 10 most common causes of a metallic or unfamiliar taste in the mouth to put your mind (and your tastebuds) at ease:
- Gum disease and poor oral hygiene
Gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis, an abscess or tooth decay can cause an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Poor blood flow, infections and debris in the mouth can affect saliva production and flow, causing a unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Having a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and regular check-ups with the dentist is the best way to prevent any changes in taste, as well as maintaining good health teeth and gums.
- Prescription medications
Some medicines can have the side effect of changing your sense of taste. These include:
- ACE inhibitors: medicines for high blood pressure known as ACE inhibitors – captopriland perindopril. These can leave a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth.
- Antibiotics: such as metronidazoleand clarithromycin.
- Metformin: used to treat diabetes.
- Lithium: used to treat bipolar disorder.
- Antidepressants and antihistamines: these can make your mouth dry, this may affect your sense of taste.
- Carbimazole: this is used to treat an overactive thyroid gland
- Cancer treatment
Radiation or chemotherapy cancer treatment can affect your sense of taste. Eating foods with strong flavours, such as spicy food, sucking a boiled sweet or chewing ginger can help to manage this side effect.
- Chronic illness
A number of chronic medical conditions can result in an impaired sense of taste including Parkinson’s disease, nerve damage, diabetes, dementia and stroke. If you are concerned that you might be suffering from a medical condition make an urgent appointment with your GP.
- Vitamin supplements
Vitamin supplements containing metals such as copper, zinc, chromium and magnesium can cause a metallic taste, which will clear as your body processes the vitamin supplement and the metal clears from your body.
- Cold and flu remedies
Over the counter cold and flu remedies containing zinc and vitamin C can cause a metallic taste in the mouth, especially if it is a lozenge or effervescent formulation.
- Infection of the nose or throat
An infection of the sinuses can affect your sense of taste as well as smell. Inflammation in the sinuses interferes with the way mucus is cleared from the nasal cavities and as dulls your sense of taste. This may leave a residual taste in your mouth, especially if you are taking medications to help clear the sinuses.
- Early pregnancy
An early sign of pregnancy is an aversion to certain foods and possibly a change in taste. The hormones in the body fluctuate during pregnancy, which can affect the senses – taste and smell. Changes in taste are only temporary and will clear up as you go through the pregnancy.
Acid reflux or indigestion may cause problems with taste, this is usually described as a bitter taste or a burning sensation at the back of the mouth. This is due to acid and bile rising up food pipe if the muscles or sphincter at top of stomach become weak. Eating small amounts regularly and using medication to treat the acid reflux can help to manage this.
- Hay fever
Common symptoms of hay fever often include a stuffy or runny nose and these symptoms may come with a metallic taste due to inflamed nasal passages. To prevent this read our hay fever treatment tips hay fever and consider investing in a nasal allergen barrier balm around the nostrils to stop pollen entering the airways.