May 31, 2017 11:00 am
Getty Images/Robert Daly

A metallic taste is usually nothing serious. Upper respiratory infections, such as a cold or a sinus infection, can change your sense of taste. In this case, the problem will clear up when your sickness does. Do you notice it whenever you eat something specific (such as shellfish or nuts)? If so, it could be a sign of a food allergy, and you should bring it up with your primary care doctor or an allergist. Another possibility: pregnancy. Many women notice changes to their sense of taste when they’re expecting. Multivitamins containing heavy metals (copper or zinc, perhaps) and certain cold remedies (like zinc lozenges) may also cause a metallic taste. Some Rxs can create an odd taste in the mouth, too, including certain antibiotics, as well as some blood pressure, glaucoma, and osteoporosis meds.

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There’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent a metallic taste from coming on, but it’s typically temporary. If you’ve experienced this for a long time or you find it annoying, talk to your doctor. In rare cases, a metallic taste may be associated with neurological conditions (such as dementia), liver or kidney problems, or undiagnosed diabetes. (However, these conditions are among the less common possibilities and are typically accompanied by other symptoms.)

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Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.