If you’re coughing up a lot of blood, it may be a sign that you have a serious condition. Seek medical care if this symptom persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, like shortness of breath.
A metallic taste is a common side effect of many medications, including antibiotics and antihistamines. It also occurs with some vitamin supplements.
A metallic taste during coughing can be a warning sign of serious illness. It usually means that there is a little bit of blood in the phlegm that’s being coughed up. That’s usually a sign of an upper respiratory infection, and you need to let it run its course. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help with the aches and pains that are associated with the infection.
Sometimes a metallic taste when you cough is due to medication or an underlying medical condition, like gum disease, sinus problems or a food allergy. If the sensation is due to a medication, it will likely go away on its own once your body adjusts to the new medicine. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor to see what other symptoms might be present.
Mucus that drains down the back of your throat can also cause a metallic taste when you cough, as it can disrupt the ion channels that signal our sense of taste. That’s why it’s important to keep a humidifier in your bedroom and use a decongestant for nasal congestion, which can prevent mucus from draining into your throat.
If you’re worried, a doctor can prescribe a decongestant or antacids to treat the symptoms. Some medications can also create a metallic taste in the mouth, including multivitamins, cold medicines and prenatal vitamins with high amounts of metals like copper, zinc, chromium or iron. If the taste is a side effect of a drug, talk to your doctor about changing to a different one or taking an over-the-counter antacid.
Some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, can also leave a metallic taste in the mouth. Talk to your oncologist if you’re concerned that the sensation isn’t going away.
A metallic taste in the mouth can also be a sign of Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune disorder that causes dry mouth. If the taste is due to this, drinking lots of water and using plastic or glass cookware can help. Sucking on ice cubes, chips or unsweetened ice pops can also help mask the metallic taste.
In most cases, a metallic taste that occurs when coughing is not a serious medical issue and will go away on its own or with treatment. However, if the metallic taste is prolonged or interferes with daily activities, it’s important to seek medical attention. In addition to a physical exam, blood tests or imaging may be ordered to determine the underlying cause of the problem.
If a metallic taste is caused by medication, it is often a side effect and can be eliminated by modifying the prescription or switching medications. If the metallic taste is caused by a nutritional deficiency, treating the underlying condition usually alleviates the taste.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease a sore throat and irritated tissues that often accompany upper respiratory infections, including those with a metallic taste. Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed PE) or phenylephrine (Delsym, Robitussin) may also reduce congestion and loosen up mucus that is contributing to the metallic taste.
Acid reflux can also lead to a metal taste in the mouth, and treatment options typically include altering diet to avoid foods that are high in acid and using over-the-counter antacids to neutralize stomach acids. If a bacterial infection causes the metallic taste, antibiotics may be prescribed.
A metallic taste can be a sign of gum disease, and treatment options generally include brushing teeth, flossing, using mouthwash and quitting smoking to keep gum tissue healthy. If a person’s metallic taste is caused by cancer treatments or certain medications, modifying the dose or changing the medication should eliminate the taste.
A metallic taste that is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever, is likely a symptom of an infection that requires medical attention. In most cases, a viral respiratory infection will resolve on its own or with over-the-counter cold medicines and will no longer produce the phlegm and metallic taste that accompanies it. Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, are treated with antibiotics and typically resolve once the medicine is taken. An allergy-induced metallic taste in the mouth, on the other hand, is a symptom of an allergic reaction and needs to be addressed immediately as it can be life-threatening.
Unless it is caused by an infection, the metallic taste that occurs when you cough should go away on its own. However, it’s important to see a doctor if it lasts more than a few days or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or sore throat. This may be a sign that the condition causing the metallic taste is more serious than initially thought and requires medical attention, such as a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics to treat it.
If the metal taste is due to a medication side effect, it should disappear once the medication stops being used. For example, if it is caused by chemotherapy drugs, the metallic taste should go away after the treatment ends. Infections such as the common cold, strep throat or sinus infections may also cause a metallic taste, but will typically not last longer than a few days.
Other conditions that can cause a metallic taste when you cough include indigestion, which can be caused by acid reflux disease (GERD) or stomach ulcers; gum disease, which is often caused by poor oral hygiene; and some medications, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and some cancer treatments.
Pregnancy can also cause a metallic taste, but this is usually a temporary change that will go away after the pregnancy is over. For people who have chronic allergies to shellfish, tree nuts or certain types of pesticides, a metallic taste in the mouth may be an early symptom of a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
For some people, a metallic taste when they cough is permanent and cannot be prevented. If this is the case for you, it’s important to discuss any other changes in your overall health with your doctor, since these could indicate a more serious condition that needs treatment. You might be able to prevent some metallic tastes from developing by changing your diet, such as avoiding sour foods and other acidic ones that can trigger this sensation. You should also avoid using metal cutlery and water bottles, as these can make the metallic taste worse. Instead, use plastic or glass utensils and rinse your mouth with a solution of baking soda and warm water to help regulate the pH balance in your mouth and neutralize acids, including that metallic one.
A metallic taste when you cough could be a side effect of certain treatments or medications. But it also can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. For example, gum disease may cause a metallic taste in the mouth, as can a sinus infection. In addition, if you’re coughing up blood, that’s a serious medical concern and you should get immediate medical attention.
Metal tastes can be a side effect of some medications, including antidepressants and lithium. They can also be a side effect of some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. In some cases, the symptom goes away once treatment is finished and/or when you stop taking the medication.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can also trigger a metallic taste in the mouth. That’s because your kidneys may have trouble getting rid of urea, a chemical that normally leaves the body through urine. If you have CKD, the urea builds up in your system and gives your food and drinks a metallic flavor.
If you’ve been exposed to mercury or lead, a metallic taste is a possible symptom. It can also be a symptom of some health conditions, such as the flu, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Indigestion can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth. It can be caused by a variety of health problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome, and stress.
Some foods can help reduce a metallic taste, such as salty or acidic foods and drinking lots of water. You can also try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sour drops. Swap out metal utensils for plastic or ceramic versions. Avoid smoking, which can exacerbate a metallic taste. If you’re unable to get rid of the metallic taste by making changes in your diet, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe an oral rinse called MetaQil to help with the taste. It’s available over-the-counter and is usually taken once a day for up to three months.