A bitter taste on the lips and in the mouth can occur for various reasons, ranging from minor issues like poor oral hygiene to more serious issues like a yeast infection or acid reflux.
Cigarette smoking can also cause a bitter taste in the mouth that can last from a few minutes to a few hours. This usually improves after eating other foods, drinking water, or brushing your teeth.
However, suppose the bitter taste lasts for an extended period or frequently occurs. In that case, a visit to a general practitioner or a gastroenterologist is recommended to determine whether a medical condition causes the symptom.
In most cases, bad taste refers to the absence of superior taste that should have been present. However, in terms of health, the bad taste can refer to problems that cause an unusual taste in the mouth. This unusual taste in the mouth can be caused by various health conditions or oral health issues. You should consult a doctor if this unusual or bitter taste does not disappear within a few days. Today we will look at some of the most common causes of abnormal or bitter taste in the mouth. It consists of health conditions and general hygiene issues.
Causes of a Bitter Aftertaste in the Mouth
Several factors can cause a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth. If the taste persists, it is usually due to some underlying health condition. You must understand the causes of this problem to protect yourself and your loved ones from health complications.
Oral hygiene issues
This is the most common cause of a bitter taste in the mouth, particularly if it occurs shortly after awakening. Bad breath and changes in taste perception can be caused by a buildup of saliva and bacteria on the tongue, teeth, and gums.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, once after waking up and once before bed. Brushing the tongue is also important to prevent coated tongue, a buildup of bacteria and dead cells that can contribute to bad breath.
Antibiotics or antidepressant medications
Some drugs, when consumed, are absorbed in the body and then released in the saliva, resulting in a bitter taste in the mouth. Antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines), gout medication (e.g., allopurinol), and lithium are some examples. Some medications used to treat heart disease can have a bitter taste.
Antidepressants can cause dry mouth, which can interfere with taste perception.
What you should do: The bitter taste usually goes away after a few days of taking a new medication. However, if it is persistent and bothersome, notify your doctor, who may recommend an alternative medication.
Dysgeusia, or a change in taste perception, is a common pregnancy symptom for many women during the first trimester. It is caused by hormonal changes and usually resolves within a few days.
Some pregnant women may experience a taste similar to a coin in their mouth or drinking water from a metal cup.
What you should do: Drinking lemonade or sucking on a lemon popsicle can help you eliminate the bitter taste in your mouth.
Some vitamin supplements high in metallic substances, such as zinc, copper, iron, or chromium, can cause a metallic and bitter taste in the mouth. This common side effect usually appears after the body has completely absorbed the supplement.
What to do: It is advised to wait a few minutes for the supplement to be fully absorbed by the body. If the bitter taste is very strong or persistent, you should consult your doctor about changing your dose or using an alternative supplement.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Stomach contents back up into the esophagus during digestion, causing GERD. The acid can return to the mouth and leave a bitter taste.
What to do: Avoid eating extremely fatty foods or difficult to digest because they raise the acidic content of the stomach. It’s also important to avoid eating extremely large meals, which make it difficult for the stomach to digest properly.
Problems with the liver
When the liver fails to function properly, the body accumulates large amounts of ammonia. This toxic substance is normally converted by the liver into urea and eliminated in the urine. Ammonia levels rise, causing a taste change similar to fish or onions.
What to do: Liver problems usually accompany other symptoms such as fatigue or general malaise. As a result, if you suspect you have liver disease, you should seek the medical advice of a gastroenterologist, who can confirm a diagnosis and begin treatment if necessary.
Bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract (such as colds, rhinitis, sinusitis, or tonsillitis) can cause a bitter taste in the mouth due to by-products produced by the bacteria.
What you should do: It is critical to drink at least 2L (approximately 8 cups) of water per day to help relieve the bitter taste and speed up recovery. However, you should also see a general practitioner confirm any diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Burning mouth syndrome
As the name implies, burning mouth syndrome causes a painful burning or scalding sensation in the mouth. These symptoms can appear in just one part of the mouth or all over, and they can also cause a dry mouth and a bitter or metallic taste.
According to the American Dental Association, burning mouth syndrome affects both men and women, particularly in menopause and beyond.
Sometimes the cause of a burning mouth is unknown, and doctors believe it is caused by nerve damage in the mouth. It may also be associated with underlying conditions or treatments for conditions such as diabetes, cancer treatment, and hormonal changes during menopause.
Other Possible Causes Include
Inflammation of the Gums
One of the causes of a bitter taste in the mouth is gum disease and cavities. Poor oral hygiene compromises dental health, resulting in various oral problems such as gum disease and gum infection. This results in a bitter taste in the mouth and a foul odour. The following are the most common symptoms of gum inflammation:
- Sensitive teeth
- Breath that stinks
- Gum bleeding
- Mouth tissue or gum swelling
Dryness in the mouth is another common cause of bitter taste. Many people do not drink enough water regularly, resulting in a lack of saliva in the mouth. As a result of this condition, you may experience a bitter or lingering odour in your mouth. It also contributes to bad breath from the mouth. This is a very common condition; you may experience it when you first wake up in the morning. As a result, drinking more water and liquids can help eliminate the bitter taste in your mouth.
However, in some cases, dryness can be caused by other factors such as medication use.
- Tobacco consumption
- Age-related conditions
- Damage to the nerves
- Diabetes causes a lack of saliva
Because of Acid Reflux
One of the most common causes of mouth bitterness is acid reflux. The condition in which the juices travel upwards through the esophagus is acid reflux. As a result, a foul odour from the mouth and a bitter taste remains in the mouth until the condition is treated. Acid reflux symptoms include the following:
- Throat discomfort
- Chest ache
- Breath that stinks
Oral thrush is caused by fungal growth in the stomach or digestive system. This occurs as a result of antibiotic use or bacterial infection. Most cases of oral thrush occur in older adults and infants due to poor personal hygiene. Aside from that, people with diabetes and other health problems may experience fungal growth, resulting in a bitter taste in their mouths. Oral thrush symptoms include the following:
- The sensation of soft cotton life in the mouth
- Eating and swallowing difficulties
- Sores with minor bleeding
- Irritation caused by dentures
- Having white sores on the inner cheeks and tongue that look like cottage cheese
This is a viral infection that occurs in the person’s liver. Hepatitis B is a common cause of a bitter taste in the mouth. This is because it infects the liver, which causes enzymes and bile juices to overproduce in the system, resulting in a bitter taste and bad odour. It is a serious disease that we must treat as soon as possible to avoid further complications. People with Hepatitis B experience symptoms such as-
- Appetite loss
Because of Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes influence smell and taste in the mouth. It primarily affects pregnant women, who frequently experience a bitter and unusual taste in their mouths. This occurs during the early stages of pregnancy due to hormonal changes, and a constant metallic taste remains in the mouth for a few months. Pregnancy-related foul or bitter taste does not require treatment; it usually goes away as the pregnancy progresses.
Taking Medications regularly
As previously stated, medication use can cause a bitter taste in the mouth. To begin with, medicines taste bitter and have that aftertaste in the mouth. Regular use of medications, particularly antibiotics, causes mouth dryness, resulting in a constant bitter taste in the mouth. The following are some common medications that can cause a bitter metallic taste in the mouth:
- Medication for the heart
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti-seizure medications
- Medication for gout
- Contraception pills
What are Signs and Symptoms?
Not sure if the bitter taste you’re experiencing is a sign of something abnormal? There are several indications that you have a chronic bitter taste.
Throughout the day, you have a strange taste.
If you’ve noticed a strange taste in your mouth that lasts throughout the day, regardless of what you eat, you should see a doctor or a dentist.
The bitter flavour could be:
The bitter taste in your mouth is unpleasant.
Another sign that your taste is abnormal is if the bitterness in your mouth has become distracting. A strong, bitter taste may distract you while performing daily tasks and even distract you from the taste of your food while eating.
After brushing your teeth, the bitter taste remains.
The bitter taste in your mouth that persists after brushing your teeth is one of the most telling signs that it is a chronic condition.
After eating or drinking something, you may experience a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth. If the taste persists after brushing your teeth, it could signify a more serious problem.
What are Some Home Remedies?
You can relieve and even prevent a bitter taste in your mouth by doing the following at home:
- To help increase saliva production, drink plenty of fluids and chew sugar-free gum.
- Maintain good dental hygiene. Brush for 2 minutes twice a day and floss once a day. Check-in with your dentist every six months.
- Reduce your risk of acid reflux by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding spicy or fatty foods, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and eating small, frequent meals rather than large ones. The slippery herb elm can help increase mucous secretions, which protect the luminal lining of the GI tract from stomach acid irritation.
- If you notice one of your medications isn’t working, ask your doctor to switch them.
It’s fairly common to have a bitter taste in your mouth even when you’re not eating or drinking anything bitter. The majority of cases are treatable.
Once you and your doctor determine the cause of the bitter taste in your mouth and begin treatment, your taste buds should return to normal with no long-term consequences.