Metallic taste in the mouth, also called dysgeusia or parageusia, is a taste disorder in which a person perceives the taste of metal when he has nothing in his mouth. Sometimes it can appear next to fatigue, which is a constant feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy.
The metallic taste itself can be caused by poor oral health. When a person experiences both metallic taste and fatigue, possible causes can range from side effects of medications to more serious underlying health problems, such as kidney disease.
In this article, we discuss eight possible causes of metallic taste and fatigue, treatment options, and when to see a doctor.
Taste dysgeusia is a persistent discomfort in the mouth that causes a person to feel metallic, dirty, or rancid. When something disrupts the normal functioning of the taste buds and their associated nerve pathways, it can lead to taste disturbances and fatigue.
Many disorders and other factors can cause these symptoms, including the following:
Common symptoms of hay fever or allergic rhinitis include sneezing, itching and tearing of the eyes, and a stuffy nose or runny nose. One may have a metallic taste due to inflammation of the nasal passages and difficulty in smelling food. Hay fever also often causes feelings of fatigue and irritability.
Infections of the sinuses, upper respiratory tract and ears
Infections of the sinuses, ear, and upper respiratory tract cause inflammation that can affect smell and taste. Other symptoms of sinus, upper respiratory and ear infections include: headache, fever, stuffy nose, cough, sinus pressure and ear pain.
Drug side effects
Some medications that can cause metallic taste and fatigue include:
iron supplements to treat iron deficiency anemia
Vitamin B-12 deficiency
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, tingling in the hands and feet, yellowing of the skin, and mood swings. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to fatigue because it can impair a person’s ability to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Severe deficiency can begin to affect the nerves, which can result in a metallic taste in the mouth.
Metallic taste in the mouth is a common complaint during the first trimester of pregnancy. Many pregnant women also feel tired. Hormones in the body fluctuate during pregnancy. This oscillation can affect the senses, which can cause a specific craving for food and make certain foods or smells appear distasteful. Women may also suffer from headaches, dizziness and morning sickness during pregnancy.
When the kidneys are not working properly, waste products can build up in the blood. This accumulation can cause fatigue and a metallic taste in the mouth.
In addition to metallic taste and fatigue, common symptoms of kidney failure may include body pain, swelling, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, a person may experience these symptoms due to poisoning of the kidneys. For example, lead poisoning leads to kidney damage and can cause dysgeusia and fatigue.
Central nervous system disorders
The taste buds send signals to the brain through the cranial nerves. Central nervous system injuries such as stroke, head trauma or Bell’s palsy can cause loss of appetite with fatigue. Other symptoms such as confusion, vision problems, headache and drooling may be present.
As many as 86% of people undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy (especially head and neck), or both to treat cancer have reported changes in appetite. These changes are temporary and the sense of taste should eventually return to normal. There is a range of expert advice to help people undergoing cancer treatment enjoy food as often as possible. Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.
The following home remedies can help alleviate the metallic taste:
eat citrus fruits or sip juices such as orange or lemon juice
sucking lemon candy before eating
avoiding the use of metal kitchen utensils and tools
drink herbal tea
stay well hydrated
brush your teeth and tongue before eating
rinse mouth with saline, baking soda or antibacterial mouthwash before eating.
When to consult a doctor
Taste disorders can lead to a person eating more or less or consuming too much sugar or salt in the diet. These dietary changes can cause or worsen other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Anyone suffering from metallic taste and fatigue should see a doctor to determine the root cause and the best treatment.
Metallic taste and fatigue can be temporary side effects of medications or symptoms of pregnancy. They can also be the result of a more serious medical condition. Often, treating an underlying health problem can solve the symptoms. Anyone suffering from metallic taste and fatigue should see a doctor for diagnostics.
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