Why do I have a metallic taste in my mouth?

People who feel that they get a metallic taste in their mouth, do so as usually as a consequence of too much medication or its side effect. Several medications like antibiotics and antihistamines produce a temporary condition or perception of metal- like taste. The condition disappears within a few days of stopping the medications. Chemotherapy is one of the most common examples with such side effects. It can also be a result of common cold, viral, nasal allergies, polyps and sinusitis.

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Major causes

Disordering of the nerves controlling taste buds and sensations can also cause an altered perception of taste also known as dysgeusia. This condition of a changed metallic taste can also be caused by infections in the respiratory system or an injury in the head, especially when there is a history of different taste experiences wherein radiation therapies come to play.

Anti-thyroid and drugs taken for neurological disorders may also cause dysgeusia. Sometimes post the surgeries also one can develop a different taste in the mouth. This is very commonly seen in anesthesia where such taste is experienced not only during but after the process as well. In the case of cancers of head as well as neck there could be similar side effects. Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Bell’s palsy, and gastro esophageal reflux disease may also make a person experience such tastes in the mouth which gets worse with the respective medications and other treatments.

Since there is a relationship between the taste and smell, therefore a lowered sense of smell can also be related to such taste disorders which can be a consequence of any kind of damage to the brain, nose or nervous system as well. The metal like taste in the mouth can also turn foul in old age especially. It is also known as a phantom taste sensation. However one can take it lightly without fretting over much.

A very popular cause of  metallic taste in mouth is a set of hormonal changes in the body.  Pregnant women are most vulnerable to an altered taste, especially when they are in the first trimester. The taste disappears generally when the hormonal changes have stopped taking place which is during the second trimester. Some prenatal medications can also give a continuous bad taste in the mouth.

However it’s the medications that take the front seat when talking about the causes irrespective of the hormonal and other bodily changes. Some of the most common antibiotics causing an altered taste are ampicillin, bleomycin, cefamandole, levofloxacin, lincomycin and tetracycline. Apart from the antibiotics there are antifungal such as amphotericin B, griseofulvin, metronidazole, that can be associated with the same reason.

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The deficiency of minerals and vitamins in the body such as B-12 or Zinc can also be a major cause. Even over intake of certain nutrients or dietary supplements can do the same as they might contain toxic ingredients. An example could be the overdose of selenium that can happen if one has a lot of seafood. Too much or under consumption of Zinc can be the cause as well.

How to combat this condition

  • By focusing on sour and citric flavors such as citrus juices, foods with vinegar, having more amount of lemon in daily diet. Such foods decrease the altered taste in mouth by increasing the saliva production
  • There are always chewable vitamin tablets that one can resort to for making the mouth taste better and they are usually convenient and harmless but excessive usage must be avoided.
    • If the metallic taste is caused due to bad oral hygiene and unhealthy habits such as smoking then one must be ready for other infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis that usually causes bleeding of the gums due to the breaking of iron where the blood is broken leaving a bad taste in the mouth. To treat this problem it is very important to take care of the oral hygiene by scraping the tongue, brushing and rinsing the teeth twice a day at least and flossing on a regular basis.


Clupeotoxin poisoning is a fatal condition and takes place when there is often a consumption of plankton-eating fish like sardines, herring, or bonefish since they are contaminated with certain toxins, apart from experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth one can become seriously ill with poisoning that can cause death. Its symptoms could be easily noted such as blue-tinged fingers or toes, vomiting, abdominal pain, lowering down of the blood pressure and nausea.

Although the most common causes of a metallic taste can be treated easily, in persistent conditions one must seek medical help.

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