Are you suffering from metallic taste in mouth? This condition of the altered sensation of the tongue is termed as Parageusia or Dysgeusia.
Causes of Metallic Taste in Mouth
The feeling of a metallic taste in the mouth isn’t an uncommon one. Some reasons causing metal like taste in the mouth may be temporary and non-serious ones while the others may be serious and life-threatening. One or more of the following may be the cause.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Few people with poor oral hygiene, experience metal taste in the mouth. Because of the lack of proper oral cleaning practices, there is always a chance of development of dental plaque and calculus in such people. This dental plaque if not removed can harbor millions of bacteria causing gingivitis and later, periodontitis.
In such cases having a metal like taste in the mouth isn’t uncommon. This taste usually goes off once the dental plaque and calculus have been removed and gingivitis or periodontitis has been dealt with provided there are no other underlying reasons causing Dysgeusia.
Chemotherapy for cancer is another common cause of dysgeusia or metallic taste in the mouth. Chemotherapy along with radiation is known to cause this condition of altered taste sensation in individuals. This particular condition is sometimes called the chemo mouth.
These symptoms may subside once the chemotherapy has stopped. Also, in some individuals, using Vitamin supplements has proven to be effective.
Xerostomia is known to precipitate the feeling of metallic sensation in the mouth. Xerostomia is a condition characterized by partial or complete absence of salivary secretion/flow in the mouth.
There is a wide variety of drugs/medications using which can cause an altered sensation in the mouth. Some of the most common medications causing Dysgeusia are as follows.
- Multivitamins containing heavy metals
- Zopiclone, used in the treatment of insomnia
- Antihistamines, used for treating allergies especially allergic rhinitis.
- Certain antibiotics like Metronidazole
- Antihypertensive medications like Captopril
- Chlorhexidine mouthwashes, after long term use
Sinus Problems and Respiratory Infections
Sinus infections and upper respiratory tract infections are known to cause a metallic taste in the mouth, in many individuals. This is because the sensation of taste is closely linked with the sensation of smell.
Whatever affects the smell sensation in humans may also indirectly affect the taste sensation. Dysgeusia in these conditions is usually temporary and subsides ones the sinus and/or upper respiratory tract infections are treated.
Although the exact cause is not known, Zinc deficiency is linked with the altered sensation of taste in mouth in many people.
Taste Bud Problems
Alteration in the size, shape or the number of taste buds on the tongue may also affect the taste sensation in humans. The researchers have proven that people with fewer microvilli (minute projections on the surface of cells) have higher chances of dysgeusia.
Disorders of CNS
Central nervous system disorders may also have an effect on the taste sensation in the affected person. It has been reported that people suffering from Dementia mostly have the feeling of altered taste sensation. These may also be noted in patients of Bell’s Palsy.
Certain problems related to the gastrointestinal tract may also cause the sensation of a metallic taste in mouth in some individuals. Most common GIT problems causing dysgeusia are heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux.
In some pregnant women, there is a feeling of altered taste sensation, especially in the early days of pregnancy. This may be due to the hormonal changes taking place in the woman’s body during pregnancy. This problem is self-limiting and usually goes away after some time or after the childbirth.
Exposure to Chemicals
Exposure to higher doses of chemicals like mercury or lead, especially inhalation may cause metal like taste in the mouth.
Many people who have Kidney infections or other kidney related problems usually complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. If someone is suffering from related symptoms such as back pain, change in the color of urine, painful urination, protein in the urine, etc. it’s better to visit the doctor as soon as possible for further investigations.
Chorda tympani nerve is a branch of the facial nerve. This nerve starts from the area near the taste buds on the tongue and runs through the middle ear. Chorda tympani carries the taste sensations from the tongue to the brain.
Any damage to this nerve will obviously cause an altered sensation of taste in individuals. This damage most often happens in case of surgeries of the middle ear and ear tube.
In the case of food allergies, especially allergies to items like shellfish, people often experience dysgeusia.
How to Get Rid of Metallic Taste in Mouth?
As mentioned earlier, in most cases, the problem goes away after the cause has been cured.
In case of altered taste sensation caused by poor oral hygiene, treating gingivitis and/or periodontitis and getting rid of dental plaque and calculus, solves the problem. Zinc deficiency can be treated with supplements.
Using artificial saliva and pilocarpine is a very effective way of managing dysgeusia. This is also a treatment for xerostomia.
In the case of drug-induced dysgeusia switching to other medications may be the only way to get rid of the metallic taste in the mouth.
Similarly, in all the other cases mentioned above, the underlying causes need to be treated first. For further information regarding these things, please visit your doctor.