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Causes and Symptoms of a Metallic Taste When Coughing

Certain medical treatments or an underlying condition, such as gum disease, can cause a metallic taste when coughing. The metallic taste may also occur during other activities, such as eating or drinking. The taste can be unpleasant and make eating or drinking difficult.
The metallic taste may appear alongside other symptoms depending on the cause. A fever, for example, could be caused by an infection.

In most cases, a metallic taste while coughing disappears after the underlying cause is treated. This article will go over several potential causes of a metallic taste while coughing and some other symptoms that may arise.

Here are Some Causes and Symptoms

When coughing, the following conditions may cause a metallic taste:

1. Periodontal Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissues in the mouth.

Gum disease can be caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Keeping good oral hygiene is usually enough to keep bacteria at bay. Another possible cause of gum disease is smoking.
Some other symptoms of gum disease include Reliable Source:

  • foul odor
  • gums that are swollen and sore
  • gums that bleed
  • chewing sensitive teeth is difficult
  • More severe cases can cause the gums to recede and the teeth to loosen or fall out.

2. Cold

An infection causes a cold in the nose, throat, and lungs. Rhinovirus infections cause colds and are easily transmitted to others.
Most people who get a cold have mild symptoms such as a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and a cough. Some people also get a fever.
A cold can impair one’s sense of smell and taste, potentially resulting in a metallic taste in the mouth.

3. Infection of the Sinuses

Sinus infections can cause a loss of smell, resulting in a loss of flavor in food and a metallic taste in the mouth.

The sinuses are hollow spaces behind the cheeks and brow that connect to the nose. Sinusitis, or sinus infection, can cause sinus inflammation, which causes various symptoms.

Other sinus infection symptoms include:

  • a green, runny substance coming from the nose
  • a stuffy nose
  • a cough
  • tiredness
  • a fever
  • a sore throat
  • bad breath
  • teeth pain
  • headaches

Sinus infections differ from rhinitis, which affects only the nasal passages.

4. Medication of a Certain Type

Some medications can leave you with a metallic taste in your mouth. Antibiotics and lithium, for example, both have these side effects.
If medication side effects are interfering with daily life or making it difficult to eat and drink, a person should consult with their doctor. It is critical not to discontinue these medications without first consulting with a doctor.

5. Indigestion

Indigestion is a set of symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal system, including the airways, stomach, and intestines. Indigestion can result in Trusted Source:

  • stomach pain
  • uncomfortable fullness after a meal
  • fullness too soon after a meal

Indigestion is not a medical condition. Indigestion can be caused by various medical conditions, including gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and irritable bowel syndrome. Indigestion is another GERD symptom.

Foods, drinks, or stress can also cause indigestion in some cases.

6. Cancer Therapies

Cancer treatments can alter the senses’ function and the normal flow of saliva. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can both leave you with a metallic taste in your mouth.

Approximately 80% of people undergoing cancer treatment report changes in food taste. Cancer treatments, in particular, can make some foods taste unpleasant, such as salty, bitter, or sweet foods.

Meat, in particular, may have a metallic flavor, while other foods may taste blander than usual.

7. Pregnancy

Dysgeusia, a distortion of a person’s sense of taste, causes a metallic taste in some pregnant women’s mouths.
People who have dysgeusia have changes in their sense of taste. The flavor is typically salty, rancid, or metallic, and sometimes foods have no taste.
Pregnancy hormones can cause dysgeusia. Dysgeusia is most common during the first trimester, and taste usually returns to normal during the second.

8. Upper Respiratory Illness

Upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses that spread from person to person, irritating the nose, throat, and lungs.
It is frequently accompanied by congestion and a persistent cough. When you cough, the phlegm, mucus, and discharge from the infection can have a metallic taste.
The common cold is an upper respiratory infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, it affects average adults twice per year and children even more frequently.
A sinus infection is another upper respiratory infection that can cause a metallic taste when coughing.

Other upper respiratory infections, such as sore throat and strep throat, aren’t typically associated with a cough and thus don’t typically cause a metallic taste.

9. Pulmonary Edema Caused by Exercise

Intense exercise can raise chest pressure, causing fluid to enter the lungs and cause a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary edema.

The fluid contains red blood cells, which can enter the lungs. When these are coughed into the mouth, they leave a metallic aftertaste.

Exercise-induced asthma or difficulty breathing
When people with asthma or anyone new to intense exercise experience difficulty breathing, they may experience a metallic taste, wheezing, or coughing.

10. Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction. It can happen immediately or shortly after coming into contact with an allergen. The affected person experiences shock as their immune system struggles to combat it.
These allergic reactions are sometimes preceded by a metallic taste in the mouth as the airways constrict, causing wheezing and coughing.

11. Disorders of the Central Nervous System (CNS)

Your central nervous system (CNS) communicates with the rest of your body, including taste messages. These messages can be distorted by a CNS disorder or injury, such as a stroke or Bell’s palsy. As a result, the taste may be impaired or distorted.

12. Allergies to Foods

Some food allergies have been linked to a metallic taste. You may have a food allergy if you experience distorted taste after eating a specific type of food, such as shellfish or tree nuts.
If you believe you have this type of allergy, consult your doctor.

When Should you See a Doctor?

A metallic taste when coughing can signify a serious condition that necessitates medical attention. Co-occurring fever-like symptoms, for example, could indicate an infection treatable with prescription medications.
Most people do not need medical attention for minor ailments such as a cold. However, older adults should see a doctor if symptoms become severe or persist for more than a few days.

Always consult a doctor before changing if a medication or cancer treatment is causing the issue. A doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication or provide advice on other possible changes.

High or persistent fever

A low-grade fever is a common symptom of an upper respiratory infection, but if your fever rises to 103°F (39.4°C) or higher, you should seek medical attention immediately.

In addition, if a fever lasts longer than five days, seek medical attention.

Coughing up Blood

Having some blood in your phlegm or mucus is normal when you have a cold.
A small amount of blood in your phlegm will cause it to appear red or pink, indicating that your respiratory tract has been irritated by your frequent coughing. Your phlegm may turn yellow or green as your upper respiratory infection progresses.
Coughing up large amounts of visible blood, on the other hand, could indicate a serious condition, such as:

  • chronic bronchitis
  • lung cancer
  • pneumonia
  • pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs
  • tuberculosis

Wheezing or Difficulty Breathing

Seek medical attention immediately if your cough is so severe that you can’t breathe. Difficulty breathing may indicate that your airways are narrowing as a result of a serious medical condition such as:

  • a severe asthma attack
  • anaphylactic shock
  • heart attack
  • pulmonary embolism

Coughing Treatments for a Metallic Taste

If your cough has a metallic taste and is caused by a common cold, you have few treatment options. The virus must be allowed to run its course.

However, we can use the following medications to treat some of the symptoms of a common cold:

Analgesics are pain relievers. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may help temporarily relieve the discomfort if your upper respiratory infection has left you achy or with a sore throat.

Decongestants. Coughing up a lot of phlegm and mucus can leave you with a metallic taste in your mouth. Reduce the amount of congestion you’re experiencing as one treatment. Consider using an over-the-counter decongestant like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or phenylephrine (Sudafed PE).
Cough medication. A cough suppressant may alleviate your cold symptoms and the metallic taste. Dextromethorphan (Delsym, Robitussin) is a common and easily accessible cough suppressant.

If you have asthma, prescription medications and an inhaler or nebulizer may help you manage your cough.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition. Anyone who coughs as a result of anaphylaxis should be taken to the hospital, or someone should call 911 or their local emergency services on their behalf.
Auto-injectors (such as the EpiPen) can be used to administer a life-saving dose of epinephrine until emergency medical assistance is available. People who do not have a prescription for epinephrine should not be given it.

The cause of a metallic taste when coughing will determine how it is treated. Some causes are simple to treat, while others may require more time.

Gum disease is usually treatable with proper oral hygiene. These include brushing your teeth properly daily, flossing, and using mouthwash as needed. Quitting smoking will also be beneficial.

Many bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics as the first line of defense. A doctor, for example, will prescribe an antibiotic to treat a sinus infection. They may also recommend additional medications to alleviate symptoms, such as a decongestant or an antihistamine.
Most cases of indigestion can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medications. Antacids, for example, help neutralize excess stomach acid, which causes symptoms.

We may require prescription medications in more severe cases. Proton pump inhibitors, for example, are extremely effective. People who suffer from heartburn can rely on this reliable source.

It is critical not to self-medicate if the metallic taste is caused by cancer treatment. Take no vitamins, supplements, or other products without first consulting with a doctor. This can obstruct the treatment.
Eating with plastic cutlery and using glass cookware instead of metal cookware may help reduce the metallic taste. We can also use citrus fruits, sugar, and salt to mask a metallic taste in the mouth.

People should consult with their healthcare team before adding extra sugar or salt to their meals.
Avoid discontinuing a medication that is causing the metallic taste without first consulting a doctor.

How to Avoid a Metallic Taste?

There is frequently little you can do to avoid a metallic taste in your mouth. If a sinus problem is to blame, the taste distortion should go away once the problem is resolved. If a medication is causing the taste distortion, consult your doctor about other options.
Finding ways to mask the metallic taste may be beneficial. At the same time, you wait for it to go away, particularly if it is caused by chemotherapy, pregnancy, or other long-term treatments or conditions.
Here are some methods for reducing or temporarily eliminating taste distortion:

  • chew sugar-free gum or mints.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal.
  • Try out different foods, spices, and seasonings.
  • We should use nonmetallic dishes, utensils, and cookware.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking.

Some medications can help taste after parosmia (smell distortion) or ear surgery. To learn more about your options, consult with your doctor.


Treatment or medication may cause a metallic taste when coughing, and it can also be a sign of a more serious health problem.
When the treatment is finished, the metallic taste should go away, and we should resolve this symptom by treating the underlying cause of the metallic taste.