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.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Dental (Oral) Health Quiz: Test Your Dental Hygiene IQ
Take the Dental Health Quiz to test your IQ of oral hygiene, cavities, and common tongue and gum diseases. This quiz covers...
Dental Images of Cavities, Dry Sockets, Gingivitis
Learn about dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer. Explore procedures such as root canals,...
Dry Mouth Causes, Treatments, and Remedies
What causes dry mouth (xerostomia)? How do you get rid of and cure dry mouth? Learn about dry mouth symptoms as well as natural...
Migraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What does a migraine feel like? Discover the difference between headaches and migraines. Learn to spot migraine symptoms early,...
The Ugly Truth About Your Toothbrush & Germs
Learn the ugly truth about your toothbrush. Are you practicing good oral hygiene? See how to store and keep your toothbrush clean...
Top Problems in Your Mouth
Learn about some of the most common problems in your mouth such as sores, oral cancer, TMJ, painful gums, bad breath and more....
Causes of Bad Taste in the Mouth
Bad breath can result from poor oral hygiene habits and may be a sign of other health problems. Bad breath, also called...
Chewing Tobacco (Smokeless Tobacco, Snuff)
Chewing tobacco (snuff or smokeless tobacco) has more nicotine absorbed into the system than by smoking a cigarette. Chewing...
Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged...
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and non-prescription drugs and certain medical conditions. Symptoms of dry...
A dry socket is a potential complication that can occur when a blood clot in the gums becomes dislodged after a tooth extraction....
Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Middle ear infection or inflammation (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear...
GERD and GER (Acid Reflux) in Infants and Children
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and...
Gum disease is caused by plaque and may result in tooth loss without proper treatment. Symptoms and signs of gum disease...
Head Injury (Brain Injury)
In the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are...
Hiatal Hernia (Symptoms, Diet, Surgery, Treatment)
Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a thin membrane of tissue connects the esophagus with the diaphragm becomes week, and a...
Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a...
The term oral cancer includes cancer of the mouth (oral cavity) and the back of the mouth (oropharynx). Red and white patches...
Pericoronitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around the molars. Pericoronitis commonly occurs in teens or young people when...
Pregnancy (Week By Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but...
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms...
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or...
The most common taste disorder is phantom taste perception; that is, a lingering, often unpleasant taste even though you have...
Tonsillitis and Adenoiditis
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms of bad breath, snoring, congestion, headache, hoarseness, laryngitis, and...
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the...
Other Causes of Bad Taste in the Mouth
Examples of Medications for Bad Taste in the Mouth
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter