Metallic Taste in Your Mouth - Causes and Treatment
Having a metallic taste in your mouth is usually a temporary condition triggered by the taking of certain medications, in particular chemotherapy drugs.
Other causes include a zinc deficiency and having a significant head injury such as a concussion.
The condition where your sense of taste is distorted is known as dysgeusia, or parageusia, and one of the symptoms is often a metallic taste.
Common Causes of Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
Among the causes are chemotherapy, zinc deficiency, hormonal changes during pregnancy, hypothyroidism, liver diseases and certain medications, including antibiotics and antihistamines.
Chemotherapy to treat cancer is a common cause of a metallic taste in the mouth. Among the side effects of chemotherapy include damage to the oral cavity, causing salivary gland dysfunctions and oral infections. Serious infections and salivary gland dysfunction result in a reduction in saliva.
Also, individuals who undergo radiation therapy may lose saliva tissue. A decrease in saliva can lead to dysgeusia and the associated metallic taste in your mouth. Saliva happens to be a crucial component of your taste mechanism by protecting and interacting with taste receptors in your mouth.
Zinc deficiency is another common cause of taste distortion. The definitive role of zinc deficiency in dysgeusia is not known. However, zinc plays a role in the production and repair of taste buds.
Some studies that patients treated with zinc have increased calcium concentrations in their saliva. For your taste buds to function properly, they rely on calcium receptors. As such, zinc is an important aspect of optimally functioning taste buds.
A variety of medications are known to cause dysgeusia. These medications include a number of antibiotics, antihistamines, and in rare cases, calcium channel blockers such as Amlodipine. These and other drugs may cause taste disturbances through various mechanisms.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, such as changes in estrogen levels, can impact the sense of taste. A large majority of women experience changes in taste during pregnancy, indicative of dysgeusia.
Treatment: How to Get Rid of the Metallic Taste
Treatments for having a metallic taste include bolstering the amount of saliva in your mouth, adding a zinc supplement to your diet, managing your prescription drugs and trying to see which home remedies may help.
A decrease in saliva production and flow can lead to taste disturbances such as dysgeusia. You can lessen the effects of the condition with artificial saliva.
Artificial saliva has similar characteristics to natural saliva and helps lubricate and protect your mouth without the enzymatic or digestive effects. A doctor can also prescribe oral pilocarpine, which stimulates your saliva glands to produce saliva.
Zinc supplementation is used as a treatment option for dysgeusia since zinc deficiency is a common cause of taste distortions. A recommended daily dose of 25 to 100 mg of zinc supplementation appears to be effective in treating taste disorders arising from zinc deficiency.
The treatment of dysgeusia resulting from drug use depends on the medication in question. Treatment options may include a dosage reduction and substitution with another drug. These interventions are only viable once other causes are ruled out.
Home remedies are a crucial aspect of managing dysgeusia that can help alleviate or get rid of the metallic taste in your mouth. Remedies include:
Brushing your teeth frequently, using mouthwash and flossing
Using sialagogues including sugarless gum, breath mints, or lozenges that help stimulate saliva production
Flavoring your foods with seasonings and spices
Avoiding metallic tasting or bitter foods
Eating foods high in protein
Preventing zinc deficiency may be a vital step in preventing dysgeusia. You can lower your risk of zinc deficiency by incorporating dietary sources rich in zinc, such as meat, fish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and dairy.
Zinc supplements are also an excellent preventative option.
Proper oral hygiene is important for preventing dysgeusia. Also, consuming foods that have a high acid content, including citrus fruits and foods marinated in vinegar, can help prevent the metallic taste in your mouth.
When to See a Doctor
Depending on the cause, a metallic taste in your mouth is usually a temporary condition. Medical experts advise a visit your doctor if the metallic taste does not go away or if there is no obvious cause of the condition.
See your doctor if the metallic taste and other accompanying symptoms affect the quality of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
A metallic taste in the mouth is a taste distortion resulting in an unpleasant taste similar to metal (such as coins). Your taste may also be bitter, salty, or rancid and accompanied by a burning sensation in your mouth.
Most of the time, a metallic taste in your mouth is not something to worry about as it is temporary. However, if this symptom persists, visit your doctor. The condition can be indicative of several conditions.