What causes a metallic taste and fatigue?

A metallic taste in the mouth, also known as dysgeusia or parageusia, is a condition of taste in which a person perceives the taste of metal even though nothing is in his mouth. It can sometimes happen alongside fatigue, which is a constant feeling of exhaustion and energy shortages.

It may be due to poor oral health that a metallic taste is itself. If a person has both a metallic taste and tiredness, the potential causes may vary from side effects of medication to more severe underlying medical conditions, such as kidney disease.

We address eight potential causes of metallic taste and fatigue, the treatment methods and when to see a doctor in this article.

Causes

A sinus infection is a possible cause of a metallic taste and fatigue.

Taste dysgeusia is a lingering, unpleasant sensation in the mouth that causes a person to experience a metallic, foul, or rancid taste. When something alters the normal function of the taste buds and their related nerve pathways, it can result in a taste disorder and fatigue.

More than 200,000 people visit a doctor each year for problems relating to taste or smell. Many disorders and other factors can cause these symptoms, including the following:

Hay fever

Common signs of hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, include eyes that are sneezing, itchy, watery, and stuffy or runny.

A person might experience a metallic taste due to inflamed nasal passages and food tasting problems. Hay fever often often makes a person feel tired and irritable.

Sinus, upper respiratory, and ear infections

Sinus, ear, and upper airway infections cause inflammation which can disturb the senses of smell and taste.

Other symptoms of sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, and ear infections include headaches, fever, nasal congestion, cough, sinus pressure, and ear pain.

Medication side effects

Taste and fatigue disorders are among the side effects of many commonly prescribed medicines. The information about 282 (17 per cent) of the 1,645 drugs registered in the study database mentioned dysgeusia, according to 2019 research.

Some medicines which can cause metallic taste and tiredness include:

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

A vitamin B-12 deficiencymay cause a wide range of symptoms that may include shortness of breath, a feeling of pins and needles in the hands and feet, yellow tinged skin, and mood changes.

A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause fatigue as it can impair the ability of a person to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body. Extreme deficiency can begin to affect the nerves, which may lead to a metallic taste in the mouth.

Pregnancy

A metallic taste in the mouth, during the first trimester of pregnancy, is a common complaint. Many pregnant women have fatigue too.

During pregnancy, hormones within the body fluctuate. The senses can be affected by this oscillation, which can cause specific cravings and make some foods or smells appear disgusting.

Pregnant women may also experience headaches , dizziness, and morning sickness.

Kidney failure

If the kidneys don’t function properly, waste materials can build up in the blood. This accumulation can cause fatigue and a metallic taste in a person’s mouth.

In addition to metallic taste and weakness, typical symptoms of kidney disease can include body pain , swelling, and breathing difficulties.

In certain cases, due to kidney damage from poisoning, a person may experience those symptoms. For example, lead, glaze, and solder poisoning can damage the kidneys and cause dysgeusia and tiredness.

Central nervous system disorders

Over the cranial nerves the taste buds transmit messages to the brain. An injury within the central nervous system, such as a stroke, head trauma, or Bell’s palsy, may lead to fatigue-induced taste disorder.

There may also be additional symptoms such as confusion, problems with vision, a headache, and drooling.

Cancer treatment

Up to 86 percent of people undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy (especially to the region of the head and neck), or both reported changes in taste to treat cancer.

This change is temporary and eventually a normal sense of taste should return. Different expert tips are available to help people undergoing cancer treatment enjoy food in the most normal way possible.

Fatigue is the most frequent side effect of treatments for cancer involving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or biological therapy.

Diagnosis

A person who has metallic taste and fatigue should talk to his doctor. In order for the doctor to make a diagnosis, either a telemedicine visit or an in-person appointment is likely needed.

The physician will ask questions about the symptoms and past medical history of the person. They will either conduct a focused head and neck exam, or perform a complete physical examination, depending on the answers.

Also, the doctor may order blood tests or other imaging studies, like a CT scan. In some cases, they could refer the individual to an otolaryngologist — a health care professional who is specialized in ear, nose , and throat diseases.

Treatments

The metallic taste and fatigue treatment will depend on the underlying cause of those symptoms.

The metallic taste and fatigue will resolve in time for certain factors, such as pregnancy and cancer treatment. Other causes may require diet or medication changes for the person.

An individual should always consult a doctor before making any changes to their prescription drugs.

CauseTreatment
Hay feverAllergy medication and avoiding allergy triggers
Sinus, upper respiratory, and ear infectionsDecongestants, saline rinse, and rest
Medication side effectsMedication adjustment or discontinuation and home remedies
Vitamin B-12 deficiencyVitamin B-12 supplements or increased intake of foods high in this vitamin
PregnancyHome remedies and rest
Kidney damageDietary changes, blood pressure control, and medications
Central nervous system disordersIndividualized treatment plan that may include home remedies, corticosteroids, and rest
Cancer treatmentHome remedies and frequent rest periods

Home remedies

The following home remedies could help relieve the metallic taste:

  • eating citrus fruits or sipping juices, such as orange or lemon juice
  • sucking on a piece of lemon candy before meals
  • avoiding using metallic utensils and cookware
  • drinking herbal teas
  • eating yogurt
  • staying well-hydrated
  • brushing the teeth and tongue before meals
  • rinsing with salt water, baking soda, or antibacterial mouthwash before eating

When to see a doctor

Impaired taste can lead a person in their diet to eat more or less food, or to consume too much sugar or salt. Such changes in diet can cause or worsen other health conditions , such as diabetes and heart disease.

Someone who has a metallic taste alongside fatigue will see a doctor to assess both the root cause and the appropriate treatment course.

Summary

A metallic taste and tiredness may be acute side effects of medication or pregnancy symptoms. This may also be the result of a more serious medical condition.

The symptoms often will be resolved by treating the underlying medical problem.

Anyone who has metallic taste and fatigue should call a doctor for a diagnosis.

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