A bitter or sour taste is a common reaction to eating pungent or sour meals. However, if the taste persists for an extended period of time or occurs unexpectedly, it can be problematic.
Taste is a highly developed sense that is influenced by a variety of variables, including poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, and pregnancy. While treating a persistent bitter taste requires addressing any underlying issues, individuals can temporarily mask the unpleasant taste with some simple home remedies.
Associated Symptoms of Bitter Taste
A bitter taste in the mouth can occur independently or in conjunction with other symptoms that vary according to the underlying disease, disorder, or condition. A bitter taste may be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Change in facial movements due to facial nerve dysfunction
- Dry mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Poor sense of smell
- Stuffy nose
- Swollen or inflamed tonsils
Causes of Bitter Taste
Several causes of a bitter taste in the tongue are minor. However, the symptoms can be annoying and may impair a person’s ability to maintain a normal diet or enjoy daily activities.
A bitter taste in the tongue can be caused by the following conditions:
1. Dry Mouth
A dry mouth, called xerostomia, occurs when the mouth produces insufficient saliva. Because saliva aids in the reduction of bacteria in the mouth, having less saliva allows for the survival of more microorganisms.
Individuals who suffer from xerostomia experience a sticky, dry sensation in their mouth. This may be due to pharmaceutical interactions, pre-existing diseases, or tobacco usage. A dry mouth can also occur if a person has a congested nose, as inhaling through the mouth can dry it out.
Individuals who have consistently dry mouth should consult their doctor for a proper diagnosis.
2. Poor Oral Hygiene
A bitter taste in the mouth can also be a result of poor dental hygiene. It increases the risk of cavities, infections, gum disease, or gingivitis. Numerous common dental problems can be prevented by brushing and flossing your teeth on a regular basis. Additionally, some individuals may find relief from certain symptoms by utilizing a tongue scraper.
Between brushing, rinsing your mouth with an antibiotic mouthwash may help keep foul-tasting microorganisms at bay.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth is a common symptom. During pregnancy, the body’s hormones vary. This variance can have an effect on the senses, resulting in distinct desires and aversion to certain foods or fragrances.
Numerous pregnant women report experiencing a metallic, bitter, or tinny taste in their lips as well. This can be inconvenient, but it typically subsides later in pregnancy or after delivery.
4. Burning Mouth Syndrome
The term “burning mouth syndrome” refers to a condition in which the mouth feels hot. Although the sensation is subjective, many compare it to eating spicy peppers. Additionally, some individuals may encounter a harsh or rotten taste in their mouth.
Burning mouth syndrome symptoms may manifest sporadically or maybe persistent and last for an extended period of time. Certain individuals with the syndrome may have difficulties eating or drinking, while others may find that these activities alleviate their symptoms.
Menopausal women may also have a bitter taste in their mouths. This could be related to decreased estrogen levels in the body, which could result in a secondary ailment like burning mouth syndrome. Additionally, it could be caused by an abnormally dry mouth.
Increased stress levels can activate the body’s stress response, which frequently impairs a person’s ability to taste. Anxiety can result in a dry mouth, which often has a bitter taste.
Certain medications, supplements, or medical procedures may induce a bitter taste in the mouth in some people. This may be due to the bitter taste of the medications or to the compounds included in them being excreted in the saliva.
8. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be the cause of an unpleasant bitter taste in the mouth. This develop when the muscle or sphincter at the top of the stomach weakens, allowing acid or bile to ascend into the food pipe.
GERD irritates the food pipe, resulting in a chest or abdominal burning feeling. Additionally, it might cause an unpleasant or bitter taste in the mouth, which may last as long as the other symptoms.
9. Oral Thrush
A yeast infection in the mouth frequently results in the appearance of white patches or blotches on the tongue, mouth, or throat. It may produce an unpleasant or bitter taste that may last until the infection is treated.
When a person is receiving cancer therapy, they may notice an off taste in their tongue when they eat or drink.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may aggravate some people’s taste buds, imparting a bitter or unpleasant taste to even simple foods like plain bread or water.
Home Remedies for Bitter Taste
There are several things you may do at home to assist in alleviating and perhaps preventing the bitter taste in your mouth.
- Consume plenty of fluids and chew sugar-free gum to aid in the production of saliva.
- Maintain proper dental hygiene. Brush gently for two minutes twice daily and floss daily. Visit your dentist for a checkup every six months.
- Reduce your risk of acid reflux by decreasing weight if necessary, avoiding spicy or fatty foods, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol use, and eating small, regular meals rather than large ones. The herb slippery elm may help enhance mucous secretions, which protect the luminal lining of the GI tract from irritation by stomach acid.
- Consult your doctor if you notice that one of your prescriptions has a bitter taste.
Treatment of Bitter Taste
Long-term treatment will be determined by the etiology of the bitter taste. Your doctor will begin by getting information about your symptoms, reviewing your medical history and current medications, and then performing a physical examination. Your doctor may conduct laboratory tests to rule out underlying conditions such as diabetes mellitus.
Treatment will vary according to the underlying disease or other factors that contributed to the bitter taste. For instance, if your doctor determines that acid reflux is producing a bitter taste, he or she may recommend over-the-counter or prescription antacids.
If you have type 2 diabetes mellitus, your doctor may prescribe a medication such as metformin (Glucophage). Metformin reduces the quantity of sugar (glucose) produced by the liver. If your doctor is aware that some medications you are taking cause a bitter taste, he or she may be able to prescribe something else.
Your health care provider may also refer you to:
- a dentist if they suspect the bitter taste is linked to a dental issue
- an endocrinologist if it’s associated with a disease like diabetes mellitus
- a rheumatologist if it’s thought you may have Sjögren syndrome