What causes bad taste in mouth?

Inflammation and infection of the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, mouth, and tongue can result in bad taste in your mouth. Symptoms may arise from inflammatory conditions, infections, or diseases that affect the taste buds of the tongue responsible for the sensation of taste. Gastrointestinal reflux disease has a similar affect on the surface the tongue, which may be damaged by gastric acid and bile.

Gastrointestinal causes of bad taste in mouth

Bad taste in mouth can also be caused by gastrointestinal disorders. Examples include:

  • Esophagitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Intestinal gas
  • Peptic ulcers

Other causes of bad taste in mouth

Bad taste in mouth can also be caused by other conditions including:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Dehydration
  • Medications
  • Mouth ulcers or abscesses
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Sinus infections
  • Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease characterized by dry eyes and mouth)
  • Tobacco use
  • Viral infections

Serious or life-threatening causes of bad taste in mouth

In some cases, bad taste in your mouth may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Oral cancer
  • Severe infection

Questions for diagnosing the cause of bad taste in mouth

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your bad taste in mouth including:

  • Do all foods and drinks taste the same?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you having difficulty eating?
  • Is your sense of smell normal?
  • Have you changed toothpaste or mouthwash?
  • How long has the taste problem lasted?
  • What medicines do you take?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

What are the potential complications of bad taste in mouth?

Because bad taste in your mouth can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Dehydration
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection

What is bad taste in mouth?

Bad taste in mouth may indicate taste impairment. The causes of bad taste in mouth can range from altered taste to a complete loss of the sense of taste. However, a complete inability to taste is rare. Bad taste in mouth a common symptom of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), salivary gland infection, ... Read more about bad taste in mouthintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with bad taste in mouth?

Bad taste in mouth may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems.... Read more about bad taste in mouthsymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health