Copper Taste in Mouth

Copper taste in mouth or metallic taste in mouth is medically known as dysgeusia. It is marked by a coppery, sour, and/or acidic taste in the mouth which often continues for long periods of time. Copper taste in mouth may occur due to many different reasons; it can be caused due to minor health problems like dental issues or gastritis, or due to harmful diseases such as lead poisoning or cancer.

By itself, a case of copper taste in mouth is minor and does not cause any medical complications or health problems. However, if it occurs due to serious underlying conditions, then it can be life-threatening and deadly.

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Causes of copper taste in mouth

Copper taste in mouth may occur due to the below listed causes:

1. Dental or oral conditions: Different types of dental diseases as well as poor dental and oral hygiene is one of the main causes of copper taste in mouth.

  • There are many types of oral conditions that can affect a person, including dental caries, gingivitis, oral infections, trench mouth, tooth abscess, and periodontal diseases. Each of them can irritate the taste buds and the oral tissues leading to an acidic or sour copper taste in mouth.
  • Infection of the mouth by yeast or other fungi can also cause a prolonged case of copper taste in mouth. It can also cause extensive damage of the taste buds.
  • Tooth amalgams and fillings often contain different metals, including mercury and silver. Their abnormal reactions can also cause metallic copper taste in mouth.

2. Different underlying diseases and illnesses: Copper taste in mouth can also occur as part of diverse signs and symptoms associated with varied conditions and ailments.

  • Gastrointestinal conditions such as acid reflux, peptic ulcers, heartburn, and gastritis as well as other ailments like hypercalcemia, jaundice, cancer, acute kidney failure, and varied kidney diseases can trigger the onset of a metallic copper taste in mouth.
  • Mild allergic reaction to consumption of certain foods or medications can also cause copper taste in mouth.
  • Any kind of abnormality, disease, injury or trauma that affects the nervous system, the peripheral nerves, or those areas of the brain that control the senses of smell and taste can result in malfunction of the taste buds leading to copper taste in mouth. It may be noted that the sense of smell and taste are interrelated. Hence, disturbances in the sense of smell can also cause taste problems leading to acidic copper taste in mouth.
    • Autoimmune diseases, inflammatory conditions, and tumors affecting the peripheral and/or central nervous system can also trigger a case of copper taste in mouth.
    • Excessive and prolonged consumption of alcohol can adversely affect the oral cavity, including the tongue and the taste buds. This can then cause a sour or bitter copper taste in mouth.
    • Elevated or abnormal levels of copper, iron, or other similar metals may be marked by metallic copper taste in mouth.
    • Hormonal fluctuations or imbalances, especially of progesterone and estrogen, can trigger an episode of sour copper taste in mouth. Pregnancy is marked by such hormonal changes. Hence, expectant women may experience a metallic taste in mouth, especially during the third trimester.
    • In some cases, people with sinus infections and other sinus problems may experience copper taste in mouth.

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3. Intake of certain drugs/medicines and/or foods: The consumption of certain foods and medications can also cause copper taste in mouth. This cause is not associated with any kind of allergic reaction to drugs or food.

  • People may suffer from a temporary case of copper taste in mouth after eating sea fishes like mackerel, tuna, bonito, and other such sea food. This condition is referred to as histamine fish poisoning. The abnormal taste typically vanishes after some time without any treatment.
  • Drinking excessive quantities of carbonated or caffeinated drinks can also produce an unpalatable copper taste in mouth.
  • Use of certain antibiotics, hypertension drugs, antidepressants, prenatal vitamins, and medications for diabetes also trigger a temporary case of metallic copper taste in mouth.

Other causes: Copper taste in mouth may be uncommonly caused due to:

  • Increased exposure to selenium or mercury, lead toxicity, and copper poisoning can sometimes cause a metallic copper taste in mouth.
  • Workplaces that come with exposure to hydrazine, rubber, benzene, gasoline, cobalt, dust, lacquers, and other such chemicals pose increased threat to developing taste abnormalities including copper taste in mouth.
  • Drinking water from a well and/or other underground sources containing minor amounts of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals; excessive cigarette smoking; and an age of over 50 years can trigger a case of copper taste in mouth.

Treatment of copper taste in mouth

Copper taste in mouth can be treated in the following ways:

  • Varied underlying causative diseases, disorders, and syndromes, including dental problems, need to be treated as per standard treatment options.
  • Proper dental hygiene, including daily brushing, flossing, and use of a mouthwash, can help alleviate and mild dental symptoms and conditions. Plaque and other dental infections can be alleviated with the use of salt and/or baking soda along with a toothpaste when brushing the teeth.
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