General Practice 2022

Bitter mouth: what it could be (and how to get rid of the bad taste)

Bitter mouth: what it could be (and how to get rid of the bad taste)
Bitter mouth: what it could be (and how to get rid of the bad taste)

Bitter taste in the mouth can have several causes, ranging from simple problems, such as poor oral hygiene or the use of certain medications, to more serious problems, such as a yeast infection or reflux, for example.

Furthermore, the use of cigarettes can also leave a bitter taste in the mouth, which lasts between a few minutes to a few hours. Typically, this type of taste change improves after eating other foods, drinking water, or brushing your teeth.

However, if the bitter taste persists for a long time or if it appears very frequently, it is recommended to consult a general practitioner or a gastroenterologist to identify if there is any disease that may be causing the symptom and start the appropriate treatment.

1. Poor oral hygiene

This is the most common cause of a bitter taste in the mouth, especially when waking up, and is due to the accumulation of saliva and bacteria on the tongue, teeth and gums, causing bad breath.

What to do: just brush your teeth and maintain a routine of at least 2 brushes a day, one after waking up and another before going to sleep, for example. In addition, it is also very important to brush your tongue well because the accumulation of dead bacterial cells, also known as tongue coating, is the main cause of a bitter taste in the mouth.

2. Use of antibiotics or antidepressants

There are some remedies that, when ingested, are absorbed by the body and released into the saliva, leading to a change in taste, leaving the mouth bitter. Some examples are antibiotics such as tetracyclines, gout medicines such as allopurinol, lithium or drugs used to treat some heart conditions.

In addition, people who use antidepressants may also have dry mouth more often, which changes the taste, as the taste buds are more closed.

What to do: usually the bitter taste disappears after a few minutes of taking this type of medication. However, if it is constant and uncomfortable, you can consult your doctor to evaluate the possibility of using another medication that does not cause these types of side effects.

3. Pregnancy

Dysgeusia, also known as a metallic taste in the mouth, is a very common symptom for many women during the first trimester of pregnancy. This happens due to the hormonal changes that happen in the woman's body, leaving the palate more refined. See what other symptoms can be a sign of pregnancy.

This way, some pregnant women may report a taste similar to having a coin in their mouth or drinking water from a glass made of metal, for example.

What to do: A great way to eliminate the bitter taste in your mouth is to drink lemonade or suck on a lemon popsicle. Usually, this change only lasts a few days, disappearing naturally.

4. Use of vitamin supplements

Some vitamin supplements that contain high amounts of metallic substances, such as zinc, copper, iron or chromium, can lead to a metallic and bitter taste in the mouth. This side effect is very common and usually appears when the supplement is completely absorbed into the body.

What to do: in these cases you should wait a few minutes to allow the body to absorb the supplement. If the bitter taste is very intense or appears very frequently, a doctor may be consulted to consider reducing the dose or switching supplements.

5. Gastroesophageal reflux

Reflux occurs when stomach contents reach the esophagus, after digestion begins, transporting acid to the mouth, which leaves the mouth with a bitter taste and even a bad smell.

What to do: you should avoid eating foods that are very fatty or difficult to digest, as they increase the production of acid by the stomach. In addition, it is also important to avoid bulky meals, as they make it difficult for the stomach to close. See other tips on how to take care of reflux:

6. Hepatitis, fatty liver or cirrhosis

When the liver is not working properly, the body starts to accumulate high amounts of ammonia, which is a toxic substance, which is normally transformed into urea by the liver and eliminated in the urine. These increased levels of ammonia cause a taste change, similar to fish or onions.

What to do: Liver problems are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or excessive tiredness. Therefore, if there is a suspicion of liver disease, a hepatologist should be consulted for blood tests to confirm the diagnosis, starting treatment if necessary.Understand the signs that may indicate liver problems.

7. Cold, sinusitis and other infections

Upper respiratory tract infections such as colds, rhinitis, sinusitis or tonsillitis, for example, can cause the appearance of a bitter taste in the mouth, due to the substances produced by the bacteria of this type of infections.

What to do: in these cases it is important to drink at least 2 liters of water a day, as it helps to relieve the bitter taste and facilitate recovery. However, it is important to consult a general practitioner to identify the specific cause and initiate appropriate treatment. In the case of colds, see some precautions you can do at home to recover faster.

8. Diabetic ketoacidosis

Ketoacidosis is a consequence of diabetes, in which due to the large amount of glucose in the blood and little inside the cells, there is a greater production of ketone bodies in an attempt to provide enough energy for the proper functioning of the body.

Due to the greater amount of ketone bodies circulating in the blood, there is a decrease in blood pH, which can be perceived through the appearance of some signs and symptoms such as bitter mouth, intense thirst, bad breath, dry mouth and confusion mental.

What to do: It is important that the blood glucose of the diabetic person is measured regularly and, if it is found that the amount of glucose is 3 times higher than normal, it is extremely importance to go immediately to the emergency room or hospital, as it is indicative of ketoacidosis.

In the hospital, the person is monitored and insulin and saline are administered directly into the vein to maintain the person's hydration and decrease the amount of glucose in the blood. Find out how diabetic ketoacidosis is treated.

9. Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by constant pain and burning sensation throughout the oral cavity. In addition, it can also cause other symptoms, such as dry mouth due to lack of saliva, and bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.

This syndrome can mainly affect menopausal or post-menopausal women, however, it can also arise as a result of a fungal, viral or bacterial infection, salivary gland problems, mouth injuries or diseases such as diabetes mellitus, disorders hormones and nutritional deficiencies of vitamin B12, iron, folate or zinc.

What to do: in case of suspicion of burning mouth syndrome, a doctor should be consulted for an evaluation to be carried out to identify the possible cause, because if the syndrome arises due to an illness, treatment will be directed towards improving the he alth condition.

In cases where the syndrome is not related to any disease, treatment can be indicated by the doctor with the aim of relieving symptoms, which can be done with the use of benzodiazepine drugs, such as clonazepam, lipoic acid and capsaicin supplements, anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants, for example.In addition, the doctor may also recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy.

10. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Some drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cyclophosphamide, dacarbazine, doxorubicin, cisplatin, fluorouracil, paclitaxel, methotrexate or vincristine, can damage the taste buds and cause changes in taste, which can leave a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth.

Similarly, radiation therapy primarily to treat head and neck cancer can also damage the taste buds as they are very sensitive to radiation, causing dry mouth and pain in the mouth and throat that can get worse. the bitter taste.

What to do: Bitter taste in the mouth usually improves within 3 to 4 weeks after treatment ends. However, you can take some measures to reduce discomfort, such as consuming candies or chewing gum, avoiding canned foods, seasoning foods with natural herbs, keeping your mouth clean and eating foods at room temperature.

Also, you can rinse your mouth with a solution of baking soda, s alt and water before eating to help make your food taste better. To prepare this solution, mix 1 teaspoon of s alt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 4 cups of water.

11. Pine Mouth Syndrome

Pine mouth syndrome is a condition that some people can suffer from eating pine nuts, which is characterized by causing a bitter or unpleasant taste in the mouth, which appears 1 or 3 days after eating the dried fruit, and it can also appear up to 2 weeks after ingestion. The cause of this condition is unknown.

What to do: no treatment is needed for pine mouth syndrome as the bitter taste disappears on its own after a few days.

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