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A Metallic Taste When I Cough

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metallic taste when i cough

A metallic taste when you cough may be a sign of an upper respiratory infection. It often goes away as the virus is treated.

If you have a persistent taste, see your doctor. They can help you determine the cause and recommend treatment options.

Causes

A metallic taste when you cough can be a sign of an upper respiratory infection or a dental problem. The first thing you should do is check with your doctor to rule out a possible infection, says Jessica Lewis, MD, director of the Center for Oral Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The second thing you can do is to keep hydrated. This will help prevent a dry mouth, which can also cause a metallic taste in your mouth. Drink plenty of water or other beverages that don’t have a strong metallic taste, like lemon-flavored drinks, citrus juices, or tea.

If the metallic taste doesn’t go away, it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as kidney failure or liver disease. People with these conditions produce excess ammonia and uric acid, which can trigger a metallic taste.

Generally, these tastes aren’t serious and will usually disappear on their own. Some medicines, including antidepressants, multivitamins with heavy metals (like copper and zinc), and cold remedies can also trigger a metallic taste.

Other causes of a metallic taste include food allergies, dementia, and cancers. Most cases of this symptom resolve on their own, but you should make an appointment with your doctor if the taste persists or is associated with other symptoms such as pain or other signs of an infection.

In some cases, a metallic taste may be an indication of a serious medical condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. This condition causes degeneration of the brain, which may alter your sense of smell and taste, says Lewis.

You can try chewing ginger or drinking vinegar-soaked foods to help get rid of the metallic taste, Lewis suggests. You can also brush your teeth with a baking soda and water solution before eating to neutralize the acids in your mouth.

Pregnancy can also trigger a metallic taste in your mouth, says Dr. Kecia Gaither, who is board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and serves as director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. This is due to the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, she says.

Treatment

A metallic taste when you cough is often a sign of an underlying health condition. Once the underlying cause is treated, the metallic taste will usually go away.

A few medications can cause a metallic taste in the mouth as well, including antibiotics, diabetes medication and gout medicine like allopurinol. If this is the case, you should talk to your doctor about changing to a different drug.

If a metallic taste is paired with mucus or coughing, it may be due to an upper respiratory infection. A bacterial infection, such as strep throat, does not typically cause this type of taste.

Some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, can also trigger a metallic taste in the mouth. This can happen because these therapies target cancer cells and can damage healthy oral cells, Bhuyan says.

Exposure to mercury or lead can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth, especially if you are living in a home where these metals are present, such as old building materials or paint. You can reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals by avoiding them, eating a diet low in mercury and lead, and using non-metal cookware.

Another cause of a metallic taste in the mouth is a medical condition, such as gum disease, that affects your body’s ability to properly absorb certain minerals. This can make the metals that are part of these vitamins muck up your taste buds and cause a metallic aftertaste.

Gum disease is easily treated with proper dental care, such as brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash. Keeping a healthy diet and quitting smoking can also help.

If you’re a smoker, quitting can help prevent the formation of tar in your mouth that can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. You can also use over-the-counter products that contain menthol or eucalyptus oil to relieve a bad taste in your mouth.

A metallic taste in the mouth can also be a sign of an allergy to an allergen, such as shellfish or nuts. If this is the case, you should get an epinephrine pen to carry with you, as an allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

Prevention

A metallic taste when you cough is usually due to a simple infection, like a cold or an upper respiratory infection. However, it can also be a sign of a more serious problem, such as liver or kidney disease.

Symptoms of these conditions include excess production of uric acid, which can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. These symptoms can also be triggered by certain medications, such as metformin for diabetes or gout medicines like allopurinol.

Some other medications, such as antacids, can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth. You should speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing a persistent metallic taste when taking these types of drugs, so that he or she can prescribe an alternative medication.

Another possible cause is a vitamin deficiency. Deficiencies in zinc, iron or B12 can all cause a metallic taste, so if you notice this is an issue, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

Gum disease and other oral health issues can also trigger a metallic taste, so make sure to practice good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and going to the dentist for regular checkups.

If you’re a smoker, quitting can help reduce the likelihood of developing a metallic taste when you cough. It’s also important to stay hydrated, which can reduce the risk of dry mouth, which can exacerbate your sense of taste and lead to other health problems.

Other treatments for a metallic taste when you cough can include changing your diet, avoiding metal utensils and swapping them for non-metal ones, and eating foods that are high in tart ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar. Some spices, herbs, and sweeteners also have a strong flavor and can mask the taste of metal.

Finally, if you are in the middle of chemotherapy or radiation treatment, your doctor can prescribe an antihistamine to reduce inflammation and the severity of any allergic reactions you might be having. This can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, as well as a metallic taste when you cough.

In addition, some supplements and over-the-counter medications can also lead to a metallic taste in the mouth. Multivitamins with heavy minerals (such as chromium, copper and zinc), prenatal vitamins and cold remedies can all cause this side effect.

Diagnosis

You may have a metallic taste when you cough for a number of reasons, but it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue. It’s important to get a diagnosis for this condition, so you can start treatment and ensure you’re healthy again.

If you’re coughing and you also have a metallic taste in your mouth, it could be due to an upper respiratory infection like a cold. This is usually a symptom that should clear up on its own, but you might want to get medical help if it doesn’t, says Okeke-Igbokwe.

A doctor can check your throat and nose for a possible infection, or they can use a throat culture to make sure you don’t have bacteria. If your doctor thinks you have a bacterial infection, they can prescribe antibiotics to treat the disease and prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body.

Another possibility is that you have a serious problem with your kidneys. People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may have a buildup of urea in their bodies, which can cause a metallic taste.

CKD can lead to kidney failure, which is a life-threatening condition that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. If you have a urea buildup, your doctor can recommend ways to treat it, Okeke-Igbokwe says.

In addition, medications can also cause a metallic taste when you swallow. Some common drugs that can do this include antihistamines, antibiotics, and over-the-counter supplements.

Gum disease and other dental issues can also cause a metallic taste in your mouth, especially if you haven’t been taking care of your teeth. Regular visits to the dentist can help resolve these problems and get rid of the taste.

If you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter medications and they cause a metallic taste in your mouth, it’s important to talk to your doctor about stopping the medication, says Lisa Lewis, MD, a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. This is particularly true if you’re using these drugs for long periods of time or if they have other side effects that may affect your day-to-day life, she says.

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