7 Causes of a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth

Do you know the main causes of a metallic taste in your mouth? Today we'll show you 7 of them and what to do about it.
7 Causes of a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by el médico Diego Pereira.

Last update: 06 February, 2023

A metallic taste in your mouth, known in the medical field as parageusia or dysgeusia (and which applies to other tastes as well), is a very common experience that affects millions of people. Most of the time, it’s related to oral hygiene, although various conditions can cause a bad taste in the mouth. Today, we’ve compiled 7 causes of a metallic taste in your mouth and what you can do about it.

Experts warn that bad taste experiences can lead to a lack of pleasure when eating, aversion to food, and even malnutrition. Certainly, a metallic taste in your mouth can prevent you from enjoying food and, therefore, reduce the amounts you eat in your diet. Let’s see what habits and conditions are behind it and what scientists have to say.

The main causes of a metallic taste in your mouth

A metallic taste in your mouth can come on suddenly or be permanent. As this sense is closely related to that of smell, taste often affects the perception of odors in the nose as well. Here we’ll explain some causes.

1. Poor oral health

As specialists point out, changes in the perception of taste usually originate due to poor oral health. Indeed, those who don’t brush properly at least 3 times a day, use mouthwash, floss, or practice other basic habits can develop alterations in the way their taste buds interpret flavors.

Every person has millions and millions of bacteria in their mouths (teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums). Oral hygiene helps control their population in such a way that, when it is deficient, the number can increase exponentially. The metabolic processes of the bacteria release compounds that alter the pH and that, together, can cause a metallic taste in your mouth.

2. Medication intake

Causes of a metallic taste in your mouth include taking medications.
Perceiving abnormal tastes could be considered to be one of the adverse effects that several medications have in common.

Drugs such as antifungals, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressants, and psychiatric medications can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Both experts and researchers point out that the drugs used to treat cancer often generate alterations of this type when perceiving flavors.

In general, this side effect usually manifests itself with medium or long-term treatments; and they’re infrequent in the case of intakes of only a couple of days. If it’s a discomfort that directly affects your well-being, consider talking to your specialist to change the medication. In many cases, this is possible, so don’t be shy about discussing it with your doctor.

3. Indigestion processes

Indigestion processes are associated with acid reflux and heartburn. All of these conditions can cause gas, food, or stomach acids that affect your upper GI system; that is, the esophagus, the pharynx, and the mouth. As a consequence, many people manifest alterations in their taste, such as a persistent metallic taste.

If this is the cause, you’ll develop other symptoms such as abdominal swelling, burning in the chest, regurgitation of food, a feeling of a lump in the throat, nausea, and problems swallowing. These episodes are very common, and medications or some lifestyle habits can control them. For example, you should avoid spicy foods and large meals, drink water with food, and avoid lying down immediately after eating.

4. Consume micronutrients in the form of supplements

Supplements like zinc, calcium, iron and other vitamins and nutrients may temporarily alter taste. Older adults or pregnant women tend to interact more frequently with these substances. Therefore, these groups are prone to developing a metallic taste in the mouth.

As paradoxical as it may be, the deficiency of some of these vitamins can also generate alterations of this type. Zinc deficiency is known to cause taste disturbances, for example.

5. Sinus problems

The sense of smell and the sense of taste are closely related. Therefore, sinus problems are among the causes of a metallic taste in your mouth. Among many others, we can highlight nasal congestion, enlarged turbinates, middle ear infections, deviated septum, sinusitis, and even allergies and colds.

6. Pregnancy

Causes of metallic taste in your mouth include pregnancy
A metallic taste in the mouth of pregnant women is usually associated with constant vomiting.

The first symptoms of pregnancy are very varied. Most people associate early pregnancy with nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and cravings. However, the spectrum of signs is very wide; and not all pregnant women develop it. A metallic taste in the mouth in these cases is related to the hormonal changes of the moment.

In fact, and as experts point out, under normal conditions, male and female hormones modulate taste processing in the brain. During pregnancy, a greater amount of progesterone is produced, so this symptom can manifest itself during the first semester.

7. Neurological diseases

Among the neurological conditions, we can highlight Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. The relationship between these and a metallic taste in the mouth has been pointed out by experts for a long time. This symptom can anticipate the first signs of these diseases, or they can appear much later.

There are many other causes of a metallic taste in your mouth. We’ll leave you with other possible catalysts of this taste alteration:

  • Diabetes
  • Food allergies
  • Injuries in the mouth that cause bleeding
  • A burning mouth syndrome
  • Gum disease
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Interaction with tobacco and alcohol
  • Interaction with recreational drugs
  • Natural aging (a reduction in the density of taste buds)
  • Viral diseases
  • The intake of specific foods
  • The use of oral appliances
  • Interaction with chemicals
  • Genetic disorders

Despite all these causes of a metallic taste in your mouth, the truth is that most cases can be explained by the triggers analyzed above. Among these, poor oral hygiene usually explains most of the episodes, so check how careful you’ve been about it.

If the taste persists despite making some changes in your hygiene and you also manifest other symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult a professional.

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