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1/14/12

Causes of Metal Taste in Mouth: Treatments

An ongoing metal taste in the mouth is very unpleasant, but there are causes, and when there are known causes, there are remedies. 
First ask yourself if you had a recent nosebleed, which can cause a metal taste from the iron in the blood.

Another cause of metal flavor in the mouth are medications. “One of the most common medications is azithromycin or clarithromycin, or any of the macrolide antibiotics,” says Dr. Steven Y. Park, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), New York Medical College, and author of the book, “Sleep, Interrupted: A physician reveals the #1 reason why so many of us are sick and tired.”

Dr. Park adds, “Chemotherapy and anesthesia medications can do this as well.” He says that supplements that contain iron or calcium can cause a metallic sensation in the mouth. However, is there any serious medical condition that can flavor the mouth with metal?

“Any systemic medical condition that upsets your body's state of balance can cause you to have a metallic taste, just like weakness, headache, or pain. Think of the bad taste as a form of mild pain or a distorted sensation of the taste-buds.”

Dr. Park further says, “If your nerve endings are hypersensitive (due to stress or illness), then they'll over-react or react inappropriately. The same goes with the tongue, since it has three types of nerve endings: taste, sensation, motor. There are theories that propose that the perception of a bad/metallic taste is actually your brain's misperception, kind of like ringing in the ear.”

Wondering if a metal mouth taste has a most common cause? Dr. Park says, “I'm not aware of any studies rank ordering this condition, as it's not a very well studied condition.” He does say that if this situation persists for several weeks, it’s time to see a doctor.

 Can it be caused by cancer?  Dr. Park explains, “Any type of growth or trauma can irritate, displace, distort or grow into the nerve bundle that supplies taste. Even benign growths can do this too. There also can be general medical issues such as neurologic conditions, either in the tongue or even the brain, that can cause these symptoms.

“Just like pain, fever, or nausea, a metallic taste is not indicative of any specific medical condition. It's only a symptom that can arise from various medical conditions. Overall, the chances that it's due to cancer is very small. This is why a thorough history and upper airway exam is very important.”

What about food allergies? “Nothing in particular, but anything that upsets the body's balance can bring on this symptom. B type vitamin deficiency has also been implicated. In severe cases, the metallic taste can turn into pain.”

Atlantadentist.com names some more causes of a metal taste: gum disease, periodontitis, peptic ulcer, tooth infections, lead poisoning, excess dietary iron, bleeding gums, kidney disease, iodine poisoning, copper overdose, selenium toxicity and mercury poisoning.

The site states: When two types of metals are used in two different dental fillings a battery can be created. Some believe that it's due to the mercury leakage from dental silver/mercury fillings. High protein diets can cause benign dietary ketosis. This has also been associated with a metal taste. It has also been associated with B 12 deficiency, zinc deficiencyBell's palsy, Strep throat and Sjogren's disease.

“There isn't one reason for metallic taste,” says Dr. Park. “A number of different conditions (including dental) can cause it. In general, you need to look over your entire medical history and overall state of health. It's also important to make sure you're sleeping well, as poor sleep can aggravate these type of conditions. Checking for any nasal or sinus conditions is also important. Acid reflux is another common condition that can alter your sensation.”

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