We’ve all had the sensation of tasting blood in our mouths. That unique metallic taste has likely filled your mouth, whether you’ve bitten your cheek or tongue, cut the inside of your mouth with your braces, or flossed your teeth a little too harshly. Have you ever had the unsettling sensation of tasting iron in your mouth when you hadn’t inadvertently harmed yourself?
Recently, a TikTok member shared a video about tasting blood while running. That could even be something you’ve experienced because, yes, a high-intensity workout can cause you to develop a metallic taste. However, it is not the only factor that might cause a bad taste. Here are several possible causes for a blood or metallic taste in your mouth, as well as whether or not it should be a cause for concern.
A woman can be seen slowing down on her run and moving her mouth as if tasting something in the TikTok video, stating that she tastes blood. Someone identifying as an emergency physician then intervened to explain why this occurs. Many things on TikTok are false, but this video contains reality, according to Lisa Lewis, MD, a clinician in Fort Worth, Texas. “This is thought to be linked to the disintegration of red blood cells, which releases minute amounts of iron into the lungs,” she explains to Health. “Irritated areas in the mouth, nose, or throat may generate a metallic taste in the mouth if a person is working out and breathing heavily.” This is more common in locations with drier and cooler temperatures, according to Dr. Lewis.
The runner in the TikTok video implied that she tasted blood because she was out of shape. While this isn’t always the case, Dr. Lewis suggests taking a break and checking to see if there’s any visible blood in your mouth. It’s advisable to see your doctor if there’s actual blood or if the taste lingers.
When the pandemic initially began, one of the first commonly documented symptoms of COVID-19 was a loss of taste. However, the condition may cause more than just a loss of taste. “Some people infected with COVID-19 have reported having a metallic taste in their tongue,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, a New York City physician. Doctors in Philadelphia, for example, wrote about a 59-year-old lady who reported that after developing COVID-19, the foods she generally enjoyed felt “bland and metallic.”
The exact cause of the ailment in certain people is still unknown, according to Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe, who says that “the aetiology of this symptom in persons with COVID-19 continues to be researched.” The good news, according to Dr. Lewis, is that current research indicates that this is not a permanent occurrence. The metallic taste in the woman’s mouth faded disappeared around two weeks after it originally appeared, according to Philadelphia doctors.
It’s not just viruses like COVID-19 that can trigger this. When you taste blood in your mouth, Dr. Lewis says bacterial infections could be at blame. Fortunately, this will also be resolved once the illness has been adequately treated.
Supplements and medications
Have you lately begun a new pharmaceutical regimen? Perhaps you’ve supplemented your diet with additional vitamins or supplements? If you’re tasting blood, it’s possible that one of those medications is to blame for the crimson taste on your tongue and lips. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and blood pressure and diabetic drugs are among the medications that might cause a blood taste, according to Dr. Lewis. “Multivitamins, particularly those containing heavy metals or iron, may induce a bloody taste.”
Fortunately, if the bad taste is caused by your medications, it’s probably nothing to worry about and will eventually go away. If the taste persists, it could be related to something else, according to Dr. Lewis, and should be explored with your healthcare provider.
If you have allergies, you know how bothersome and inconvenient they can be. They turn lovely spring days into a tissue fest or turn snuggling time with your cat into an itchy, eye-watering experience. They can also cause problems in your mouth. Dr. Lewis explains that allergies are a typical cause of taste changes, particularly a metallic taste in the tongue. “Medications related with allergies (such as antihistamines) may create a metallic taste and a dry sensation in the mouth, in addition to increased secretions in the respiratory passages.”
Pine Nut Illness
This is a very special case. It’s not common, but some people who eat pine nuts experience it. “In the past, people have reported having a metallic taste in their mouth for several days after eating pine nuts,” adds Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe. “The altered taste in the mouth appears to be transient, and it’s unknown why this phenomena only affects a small number of people.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, someone who develops pine nut syndrome will have a bitter metallic taste 12 to 48 hours after eating pine nuts (NIH). The flavour is frequently enhanced when eating other foods and lasts for two to four weeks. According to NIH researchers, “recent results have linked this condition to the ingestion of Pinus armandii nuts,” but “no putative triggers or common underlying medical causes have been identified in individuals affected by this syndrome.”
Few things may alter your body as dramatically as pregnancy, which can affect everything from your appetite to the regularity with which you visit the restroom. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’re probably aware of how the experience might affect your senses. “One of the most common causes of a metallic taste in the tongue is pregnancy,” explains Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe. “This is likely related to the hormonal swings that occur during this time.” While some pregnancy-related changes can be permanent, Dr. Lewis adds that this one usually goes away on its own.
Dental hygiene issues
Brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day with a toothbrush with soft bristles is recommended by the American Dental Association. Sure, you may slack on that now and then. However, keeping appropriate dental hygiene is crucial, since failing to do so can result in poor breath, cavities, and even the taste of blood in your mouth.
“If a person does not brush their teeth on a regular basis, they may get gingivitis or periodontitis, which is inflammation or shrinkage of the gum tissue,” Dr. Lewis explains. “A metallic taste in the mouth may be a result of the changed anatomy of the oral tissue with certain disorders.”
Many of the reasons why you could taste blood in your tongue are harmless or curable. Some of the reasons, though, are more significant. “Altered taste, sometimes known as a metallic taste,” says Dr. Lewis, is linked to neurological diseases like Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis thought to be caused by a viral infection) and dementia. “Weak impulses from the underlying brain defect cause a metallic taste associated with neurological sickness.”
When will you notice this symptom for the first time? “Although a metallic or blood taste in the mouth has been reported as the initial indicator of neurological disease in rare cases, a change in taste is often recognised in conjunction with other neurological symptoms,” Dr. Lewis notes. Don’t assume you have a neurological disease just because you taste blood.
If you’re tasting blood, should you go to the doctor?
Even if you don’t think the underlying cause is serious, don’t ignore the taste of blood in your mouth. If you taste blood, Dr. Lewis recommends speaking with your doctor, especially if you are unsure why you are experiencing the change.
The underlying cause of such a taste is usually not serious. “Unfortunately, some people have acute disease or multiorgan medical disorders that may generate a metallic taste in the tongue,” adds Dr. Lewis. According to Dr. Lewis, diabetes, particularly hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), is one illness that can have this effect. “If a person with diabetes feels this symptom, they should check their blood sugar right away and follow their doctor’s instructions,” she says. According to Dr. Lewis, chemical exposure could potentially create the taste disturbance, which is something else a doctor should look into. However, if you have a metallic taste in your tongue due to one of these more serious causes, “additional symptoms will most certainly be present and noticeable,” according to Dr. Lewis. “It’s best to undergo a medical evaluation to ensure there are no severe health problems that need to be treated,” she says, even if the taste persists.