A metallic taste in the mouth is a relatively common side effect of medications. Dozens of different drugs produce changes in the sense of taste as a side effect, that can include the perception of a metallic taste. Examples include many antibiotics and some antihistamines. In the majority of these cases, the condition is only temporary and resolves once the medication is discontinued. Cancer chemotherapy medications may also produce a metallic taste in the mouth as a side effect.
Metallic taste in the mouth can also arise due to a disorder of the nerves that control taste sensations. The condition of altered sense of taste is medically known as dysgeusia or parageusia. Dysgeusia can cause a number of different alterations in taste, including a metallic taste. Some common medical conditions that can cause metallic taste in the mouth include ear or upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis, as well as head injury or conditions that damage the central nervous system (CNS). A history of radiation therapy to the head and neck can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Pregnant women sometimes experience an alteration in the sense of taste, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy.
Related Symptoms & Signs
Other causes of metallic taste in the mouth
- Bacterial Infections
- Cancer Chemotherapy
- Ear, Nose, or Throat Surgeries
- Normal Aging
- Pollutants or Toxins
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Previous Radiation Therapy to the Head And Neck
- Viral Infections
- Vitamin Deficiencies
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.Next Article
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Causes of Metallic Taste in the Mouth
Chewing Tobacco (Smokeless Tobacco, Snuff)
Chewing tobacco (snuff or smokeless tobacco) has more nicotine absorbed into the system than by smoking a cigarette. Chewing tobacco or snuff can cause: cancers, poor oral health(gum disease and tooth decay), infertility, pregnancy complications, and nicotine addiction. Nicotine addiction can be overcome with available prescription drugs and other treatment programs.
Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Gum disease is caused by plaque and may result in tooth loss without proper treatment. Symptoms and signs of gum disease (gingivitis or periodontal disease) include receding gums, bad breath and pocket formation between the teeth and gums. Treatment depends upon the stage of the gum disease, how you responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health.
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 generally classified by the location of the blood within the skull, these include: epidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid bleed, intracranial bleed, sheer injury, edema, and skull fracture. Some common symptoms of a head injury include: vomiting, bleeding from the ear, speech difficulties, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, and body numbness. Treatment of a head injury depends on the type and severity of the injury.
Middle 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 infection, acute and chronic. Acute otitis media is generally short in duration, and chronic otitis media generally lasts several weeks. Seventy-five percent of children in the U.S. suffer from otitis media at some point. Signs and symptoms in babies, toddlers, and children may: Be irritable and pull and tug at their ears Be fussy Have problems feeding or sleeping Complain about pain and fullness in the ear Have a fever A buildup of pus in the ear Have signs and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection Treatment depends upon the type (chronic or acute).
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms are headache, fever, and facial tenderness, pressure, or pain. Treatments of sinus infections are generally with antibiotics and at times, home remedies.
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 "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
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