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Recognizing a Metallic Taste When You Cough

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metallic taste when i cough

A metallic taste when you cough can be distressing, particularly if it is persistent or occurs along with other symptoms like a fever. It’s important to recognize its impact on your mental health and seek help if needed.

A metallic taste when you cough can be a symptom of an infection or disease, but it might also be a side effect of certain medications and treatments.

Causes

A metallic taste when coughing can signal a number of medical conditions. The most serious is a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. People who notice a metallic taste in the mouth along with other symptoms should seek emergency care immediately. A metallic taste can also be a sign of an upper respiratory infection, such as a common cold. In this case, phlegm in the throat and lungs may contain small amounts of blood that can be coughed up into the mouth. This type of metallic taste is especially likely in young children and elderly adults.

Chronic bronchitis is another condition that can cause a metallic taste when coughing. The phlegm in this condition often contains small amounts of blood that can be coughed out of the body, and the taste can be particularly unpleasant when combined with other symptoms such as a fever or chills.

Gum disease, a mouth injury or surgery, certain medications, or a food allergy can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth when you cough. In many cases, a metallic taste is nothing to worry about, especially if it is temporary and doesn’t come with other symptoms.

A metallic taste is a common side effect of some medications, including antibiotics and lithium. If the medication is causing a metallic taste in your mouth when you cough, it is important to talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication.

Exposure to metal fumes in a workplace or at home can also lead to a metallic taste. Fortunately, this type of taste is usually temporary and dissipates after leaving the area in which the exposure occurred.

Diabetes and some pregnancy-related medications can also cause a metallic taste when you cough. Those with diabetes should check their blood sugar levels frequently and follow their doctor’s advice for treatment.

Kidney or liver disease can also cause a metallic taste in the throat when you cough, according to a review published in the Saudi Dental Journal. This is because these diseases can disrupt the way your nervous system relays sights, smells and tastes to your brain.

Treatment

A metallic taste when you cough often goes away as soon as the underlying cause clears up. A mild case of the common cold will likely clear up on its own, but you may need to take over-the-counter medication like decongestants or fever reducers, such as acetaminophen (brand names include Tylenol and Bromo Seltzer). Some cancer treatments can also give people a metallic taste in their mouth; however, this usually only lasts a short time as your body adjusts to the medication.

If you’re experiencing a more serious respiratory illness, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, or have a chronic health condition that can lead to a cough, such as heartburn or pulmonary edema, a doctor should evaluate you. Having a metallic taste when you cough should not be treated lightly, since it could indicate an underlying infection or serious disease. Having other symptoms, such as chest pain or tightness, a high fever, and coughing up blood should prompt immediate medical attention.

For conditions such as a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and asthma, treatment usually involves resting and taking over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, you may need prescription medication such as an inhaler or steroids. If you’re experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth as a side effect of certain medications, including antidepressants and lithium, talk to your doctor about the possibility of switching to a different drug.

Gum disease can often be treated by regular dental visits, good oral hygiene, and avoiding smoking. Acid reflux can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating smaller meals, using a low-acid diet, and switching to plastic or glass cookware. Medications that can produce a metallic taste in your mouth include tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and gabapentin, which are often used to treat pain and seizures.

If you’re pregnant, a metallic taste in your mouth can be normal due to the surge of hormones, and should resolve when the pregnancy is over. If you have a severe metallic taste in your mouth that doesn’t clear up after treating the underlying cause, see a dentist for an evaluation.

Prevention

A metallic taste when you cough can signal an underlying health issue. It may indicate a virus, infection, food allergy or other condition. It is important to see a doctor or dentist about the issue, especially if it is accompanied by fever, and to discuss treatment options if necessary.

A recurrence of a metallic taste in the mouth can be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest. A regular dental checkup and cleaning is also helpful to avoid gum disease, which can lead to a metallic taste. A dental professional can recommend the best brushing and flossing routine for you, as well as prescribe mouthwash if needed to help prevent bad breath.

If the metallic taste is due to a viral respiratory infection, it typically resolves on its own, as will the associated symptoms of a runny nose and cough. A bacterial infection such as strep throat, however, will often be accompanied by a foul or metallic taste in the mouth. This is caused by stomach acids that are intended to help digest food creeping back up through the esophagus, which then hits the taste buds and gives off the metal flavor.

Certain chemical elements can also give a metallic taste in the mouth, including mercury and lead. These are most often found in older building materials and contaminated water. A more serious cause of a metallic taste is kidney failure, which can result in uremic toxicity and an excessive amount of uric acid in the bloodstream.

Certain medications can also leave a foul or metallic taste in the mouth. If you experience this side effect from a medication, it is important to talk to your doctor to find a solution. In some cases, it is possible to switch to a different medication that does not have this side effect. A recurrence of the unpleasant taste is also a sign that the medication is not working and should be discontinued. For other medications, a dentist can work out ways to reduce the metallic taste, such as using plastic cutlery instead of metal and adding more salt or sugar to meals.

Diagnosis

If you have a metallic taste when you cough, you should get medical attention to determine the cause and receive treatment for the underlying condition. If the metallic taste is accompanied by a fever, rash or other worrisome symptoms, it may indicate a serious problem.

A metallic taste in the mouth is sometimes a side effect of some medications, including antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs. The metallic taste can also be caused by certain nutritional deficiencies. In these cases, the doctor will recommend a change in diet to eliminate the metal taste.

The metallic taste that develops while you cough can also be a symptom of an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold. These infections can lead to blood in the sputum, which will create a metallic taste in your mouth when you cough. This symptom usually goes away as the cold or infection clears up.

Mucus from a sinus or other upper respiratory infection can interfere with the sense of taste, Lewis says. The metallic taste usually goes away as the mucus drains and your sense of smell improves.

Intense exercise can increase pressure in the chest, which can push fluid into the lungs. This can lead to a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary edema, in which red blood cells are coughed up into the mouth and have a metallic flavor. This symptom should go away as the fluid returns to normal, but it may take some time for the lingering taste to resolve.

A metallic taste can also occur if you have an allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

A metallic taste can also be a side effect of some over-the-counter and prescription medicines, such as antidepressants, calcium supplements, antihistamines, corticosteroids, diuretics and iron supplements. The metallic taste typically goes away as the medication is stopped or as your body adjusts to the medicine, but it’s important to speak with your doctor if you have concerns about any new medications you are taking. You can also try drinking more water, using artificial saliva to help with a dry mouth, eating foods with strong flavors like fruits and vegetables, and switching from metal to plastic utensils to reduce the metallic taste in your mouth.

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