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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

What Causes a Metallic Taste When I Cough?

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The metallic taste that develops when you cough can signal a variety of issues. Fortunately, the taste will often go away after treatment of the underlying condition.

Some causes are easy to treat, like indigestion that results in the metallic taste. Others, such as gum disease or an infection in the throat, can be more serious.


The metallic taste you experience when you cough is a sign of an infection or underlying condition. It can also indicate that there is blood in the phlegm, although this is not common and usually only occurs with very serious infections. The treatment of the underlying cause should resolve the metallic taste, and you will probably also feel better afterward.

A common cause of a metallic taste when you cough is an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu. If you notice that the phlegm from your cough has a red or pink color, this is often caused by blood in the phlegm and may be a warning sign of a more serious illness such as pneumonia or an ear infection. If the phlegm is yellow or green, it is likely due to more mild causes such as a viral infection.

Other causes of a metallic taste when you cough include some medications, such as antibiotics or lithium. If you are taking any medications and start to develop a metallic taste, talk with your doctor. They might be able to prescribe a different medication or recommend a change in dosage that will help eliminate the metallic taste.

Intense exercise can sometimes cause fluid to build up in the lungs, leading to a cough and a metallic taste. This is known as exercise-induced pulmonary edema, and it can also occur with asthma. People with a history of heart disease or a weak immune system might be more susceptible to this condition.

Some health conditions can make the tongue taste metallic, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. It is important for anyone with a health condition that can affect the taste of the mouth to see their doctor if they experience this symptom, especially if it comes alongside other symptoms such as fever or chills.

A metallic taste can also be a sign of gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months can help prevent gum disease. If you do have gum disease, your dentist can recommend treatments such as scaling and root planing, which are designed to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth.


A metallic taste when you cough can be a sign of an infection or other condition. The symptom can be mild or severe, and it might happen while you are asleep or while eating. If the taste is severe, you should seek medical help. The taste may go away on its own or with medication, but it’s best to treat the underlying condition.

A common cause of a metallic taste is an upper respiratory infection like a cold. The irritation of the throat and nasal passages causes phlegm, which contains blood, to be coughed up. Repeatedly coughing up this phlegm can lead to a metallic taste in your mouth because the blood hits the taste buds. In some cases, this symptom is accompanied by other symptoms, including a loss of smell, fever and chills.

The simplest way to address this is with over-the-counter decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or phenylephrine (Claritin, Sudafed PE). These medications will decrease the amount of phlegm and mucus you produce. If you’re taking one of these medications, make sure to read the label and follow the dosage instructions carefully.

Another common reason for a metallic taste when you cough is acid reflux or heartburn. In some cases, this symptom is more serious than others, and you should see a doctor if you’ve had heartburn for more than three weeks or you have a complication such as shortness of breath.

Pregnancy can also cause a metallic taste in your mouth. This symptom is called dysgeusia, and it’s due to the high levels of estrogen that are present during this time. This symptom typically goes away after the first trimester.

A metallic taste can also be a side effect of certain medications, including some antibiotics and antidepressants. If you’ve recently started a new medication, it’s important to let your doctor know about any alterations in taste that might be occurring. They can then determine if the change is drug-related or not.


If you have a metallic taste when coughing, it’s important to contact your doctor. While this symptom doesn’t always indicate a serious issue, it can be an alarming sign.

Most cases of a metallic taste when you cough are related to an upper respiratory infection such as a cold or sinus infections. The irritation caused by these illnesses can cause your phlegm to contain traces of blood, which gives a metallic flavor to the phlegm as it exits your mouth. You may also experience other symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, chills and a fever.

Your doctor will likely order diagnostic tests to assess the underlying condition. For example, he or she might order imaging tests such as CT scans or X-rays to see if there is a tumor or other problem that’s contributing to the taste. Saliva tests might also be ordered to check for changes in the pH levels of your saliva or the presence of certain substances. In some cases, a biopsy may be needed.

If the metallic taste is due to a medication, you can try adjusting your dosage or switching to a different medication. Be sure to tell your doctor about the side effects of any medications you’re taking, so he or she can monitor your progress and help find an effective solution.

A metallic taste when you cough can also be caused by gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux, which is commonly known as indigestion. Stomach acid can irritate the taste buds and alter how food tastes, so over-the-counter or prescription antacids are often effective. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a medication such as proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid.

Kidney disease and other chronic conditions like diabetes can also lead to a metallic taste in your mouth. In these cases, your doctor will probably recommend a treatment plan that includes regular blood sugar monitoring, fluid intake and other medications to manage the underlying condition. He or she may also advise you to switch to a non-metal utensil set and use glass or plastic cookware instead of metal.


The onset of a metallic taste when coughing can be frustrating and disabling. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage the symptom and provide relief. The first step is to determine the underlying cause of the taste. Then, seek medical attention if necessary.

Some medications can cause a metallic taste, including antibiotics and lithium. A doctor can recommend an alternative medication if this is the case. In addition, a doctor may also recommend reducing the dosage or frequency of the affected medication.

Zinc supplements can also help alleviate the metallic taste when coughing caused by a cold or other upper respiratory infection. A physician can recommend the appropriate dose based on the patient’s age and medical history.

Infections such as the common cold can cause a metallic taste, particularly due to the presence of phlegm and blood in the throat. However, other infections such as a sinus infection or strep throat do not typically cause a metallic taste when coughing.

A metallic taste can be exacerbated by spicy, salty, or acidic foods. Therefore, avoiding these foods may help to decrease the metallic taste when coughing. In addition, drinking plenty of water can help to hydrate the mouth and flush out any bacteria that might be contributing to the metallic taste.

The most important preventive measure is to practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice daily, using mouthwash, and flossing. Flossing is especially crucial, as it can remove food debris and prevent plaque buildup that may contribute to a metallic taste when coughing.

Avoiding certain foods, such as processed meats and cheese, may also help to reduce the metallic taste when coughing. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve the quality of the mouth’s saliva and help to balance its pH levels. In cases of indigestion, an over-the-counter or prescription antacid can be used to counter excess stomach acid that may contribute to the metallic taste when coughing.

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