Bad Taste in the Mouth: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

A bad taste in the mouth can be a result of a wide range of medical conditions and even everyday situations. It may occur after eating, after coughing, or constantly, depending upon the cause. Many different kinds of prescription or over-the-counter medications can interfere with the sense of taste and may produce an unpleasant sensation of taste. The feeling of a bad taste in the mouth is usually temporary and improves when the underlying cause is remedied. Consumption of certain foods, or the use of tobacco products, can result in an unpleasant or bad taste in the mouth. Poor dental health and poor hygiene are other potential causes of a bad taste in the mouth.

Dysgeusia is the medical term for an impaired sense of taste. It can result in unpleasant taste sensations ranging from metallic to salty or bitter. The bad taste may also be described as foul or rancid. The severity of the bad taste varies among affected individuals. Dysgeusia can be caused by infections (cold, flu, sinus infections, for example), inflammation, injury, or environmental factors. A history of radiation therapy for cancer treatment to the head and neck can also cause a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, women in the early stages of pregnancy find that their sense of taste appears to have changed, possibly resulting in a bad taste in the mouth. Depending upon the cause of the sense of bad taste, there may be other associated symptoms, such as nausea or dry mouth.

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/20/2018
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