HomeBlogSour Taste in Mouth: Causes, Prevention, Treatment and Home Remedies

Sour Taste in Mouth: Causes, Prevention, Treatment and Home Remedies

Waking up to an unpleasant sour or acidic taste in your mouth can really put a damper on your day. That lingering bitter, metallic flavor makes everything you eat or drink taste off. You may wonder what’s causing this sudden case of dysgeusia, the medical term for taste changes.

A sour taste in mouth can originate from illnesses, medications, hormonal shifts, or as simple as inadequate oral hygiene. Read on to learn about the common and benign causes of sour taste, as well as when it warrants seeing a doctor. You’ll also find suggestions to help get rid of that annoying sour flavor fast.

What’s Behind That Annoying Sour Taste in Your Mouth?

A sour, acidic taste is hard to ignore and makes eating and drinking unpleasant. Our perception of flavors depends heavily on proper functioning of the taste buds, saliva, and olfactory system. An imbalance or disruption to any of these can result in taste degeneration or distortion.

The medical term for this phenomenon is dysgeusia, which refers to any taste distortion. Along with sourness, other taste changes include perceiving flavors as metallic, salty, rancid, or just “off.”

Why does this happen? In many cases, there’s an identifiable cause behind sour taste that can be remedied. But when should you be concerned, and how can you find relief?

Common Causes of a Sour Taste

There are many factors that could be the culprit behind perceiving tastes as acidic, bitter, or “off.” Here are some of the most common reasons for a sour flavor in the mouth:

Acid Reflux (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently backs up into the esophagus. The acidic contents of the stomach then come into contact with the sensitive tissues of the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and sour taste known as acid reflux.

GERD is a chronic condition that affects around 20% of the population. It can cause persistent sour or bitter flavor, especially in the morning upon waking. Other GERD symptoms include heartburn, hoarseness, regurgitation, and trouble swallowing.

Medications

Various prescription and over-the-counter medications list taste alterations like dysgeusia as a potential side effect. Types of drugs known to occasionally cause a metallic or sour taste include:

  • Antibiotics – penicillins and macrolides
  • Antidepressants – SSRIs and MAOIs
  • Anti-hypertensives – ACE inhibitors
  • Antihistamines – cetirizine, loratadine
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Multivitamin supplements

For most medications, a sour mouth taste is temporary and resolves once the drug is discontinued. But for medications that must be taken long-term, like blood pressure medications, the taste distortion can persist.

Poor Oral Hygiene

When oral hygiene is neglected, bacteria naturally present in the mouth can multiply and cause complications like gum disease and tooth decay. Inadequate brushing and flossing allows the bacteria to form into plaque, leading to inflammation and sour taste.

Halitosis, or bad breath, is also common with poor dental hygiene. The bacteria produce foul-smelling gases that coat the tongue and mouth. So practicing effective daily oral care is essential to prevent bacterial buildup.

Pregnancy

Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy commonly cause taste changes like dysgeusia. In fact, up to two-thirds of expectant women experience alterations in their perception of tastes. Foods are sometimes perceived as stronger tasting, metallic, bitter, or just “off.”

Experts believe this is caused by estrogen effects on taste receptors during pregnancy. Often foods a woman previously enjoyed become unappealing due to taste or smell sensitivity. The dysgeusia usually resolves after giving birth.

Respiratory Infections

Temporary upper respiratory infections like the common cold, influenza, bronchitis, or sinusitis can distort taste perception. Nasal and sinus congestion leads to post-nasal drip running down the back of the throat, leaving an unpleasant flavor.

Viruses are another cause of respiratory infections that may alter our sense of smell and taste. In fact, loss of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia) are newly recognized symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for.

Post-viral symptoms like lingering cough or nasal drip after an infection can continue to affect taste sensation. In most cases, however, these changes are short-lived.

Liver Disease

The liver helps filter toxins from the bloodstream. When liver function is impaired or damaged, buildup of toxins can occur. One of these is ammonia, a chemical waste product that when elevated makes the mouth taste foul or acidic.

Sometimes those with chronic liver disease like hepatitis report their mouth constantly tastes like ammonia or bile. Elevated ammonia levels affect the kidneys’ ability to excrete urea, allowing it to build up in the body and saliva.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Certain nutritional deficiencies have also been associated with reports of taste changes or distortions. Notable examples include:

  • Zinc deficiency – zinc is needed for proper taste bud and enzyme function. Lacking zinc can cause reduced taste perception.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency – studies show some with low B12 experience taste disorders that improve with supplementation.
  • Iron deficiency – may potentially contribute to dysgeusia according to some reports.

Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals may be due to inadequate dietary intake, reduced absorption in the gut, or other factors. A blood test can determine whether you are lacking essential nutrients.

Dry Mouth

Saliva helps lubricate the mouth, initiate chemical digestion, and wash away bacteria and food debris. Individuals who have chronic dry mouth or xerostomia often complain of dysgeusia as well.

Without adequate saliva flow, taste perception is altered. Foods may taste overwhelmingly sour or salty. Dry mouth can result from medications, autoimmune diseases, nerve damage, radiation therapy, or aging.

Oral Infections

Certain oral infections encourage overgrowth of unhealthy microbes that give the mouth a foul, bitter taste:

  • Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums from plaque buildup on teeth. Causes tenderness, bleeding gums, bad breath.
  • Thrush – an overgrowth of yeast/fungus like Candida albicans on the tongue or mouth. Appears as whitish lesions.
  • Strep throat – a bacterial throat infection leaving a sore, itchy throat.
  • Abscessed tooth – a bacterial infection of the root canal or gums surrounding a tooth.

Treating these oral infections with antiseptic mouthwashes, antibiotics, or antifungals helps resolve associated taste complaints. Proper oral hygiene prevents these issues.

Preventing and Reducing Sour Taste

A sour, unpleasant taste in mouth can’t always be prevented depending on the cause. However, you can take some proactive measures to help minimize or mask the problem:

Practice Diligent Oral Hygiene

Make brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily a habit, as well as regular cleanings at the dentist. Use an antibacterial mouthwash to help kill bacteria lingering on the tongue or gums.

Special tongue scrapers can also help remove built-up bacteria coating the tongue that leads to sour taste. Stay on top of your oral health and get any potential dental issues treated promptly.

Stay Well Hydrated

Drink plenty of water and other unsweetened beverages throughout the day. Proper hydration is key to maintaining sufficient saliva flow, which helps neutralize oral bacteria and acids. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids daily.

Avoid becoming over-reliant on sour or acidic beverages like coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks or juice, as these can exacerbate taste issues.

Use Sugar-Free Gum or Mints

Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on mints stimulates saliva production, which naturally washes away bacteria and lingering tastes in the mouth. Look for gum with xylitol, which helps neutralize acids and inhibits bacterial growth.

Rinse Away Sour Tastes

For quick relief, try rinsing your mouth with a solution of baking soda and salt mixed with warm water. This helps neutralize acids. You can also rinse briefly with milk, which acts as a natural mouthwash.

Treat Underlying Conditions

Work with your doctor to manage any medical conditions that could be contributing to taste distortions like reflux, diabetes, sinus problems or nutritional deficiencies. Medications or lifestyle changes may be advised.

Sometimes switching medications helps, but only make changes under medical supervision. Any needed vitamin or mineral supplements can also be taken.

Getting Rid of Sour Taste in Mouth

The appropriate treatments to eliminate an acidic, sour mouth taste depends on the cause. Here are some general guidelines:

Medications

For dysgeusia caused by a particular prescription medication, talk to your doctor about potential alternatives or dosage adjustments. Sometimes taking a pill with food reduces side effects like taste changes.

Over-the-counter antacids or acid reducers may help if the medication is irritating the stomach. Medication-induced taste changes tend to resolve eventually as the body adjusts.

Oral Hygiene and Habits

Practice meticulous oral hygiene to prevent gingivitis, gum disease, fungal infections, and dental decay that can lead to taste distortion. Brush and floss thoroughly after meals, floss daily, and use antiseptic mouthwashes.

Improve hydration, avoid smoking, and limit acidic foods and beverages. Sucking on sugar-free citrus candy or lemon wedges stimulates saliva to clear the mouth.

Reflux Remedies

Lifestyle measures to prevent acid reflux can help eliminate the associated sour taste:

  • Avoid trigger foods like spicy, fatty, or acidic foods.
  • Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Lose weight if overweight.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol.
  • Sleep with head elevated.

Over-the-counter antacids like Tums, Maalox, or Pepcid help neutralize stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec require a prescription but more effectively block acid production.

Rinses and Remedies

These home solutions provide temporary relief:

  • Baking soda and salt rinse.
  • Sugar-free citrus candy.
  • Milk/yogurt mouth rinse.
  • Sugar-free gum to increase saliva.

Avoid any foods, drinks, tobacco, etc. notice worsen the problem. Continuing to rinse and stimulate saliva helps clear the bad taste.

See Your Doctor

Make an appointment with your physician if you experience any of the following:

  • Sour taste persists longer than two weeks.
  • It interferes with eating or drinking.
  • You have pain, fevers, nausea or other symptoms.
  • You have an existing condition like diabetes or GERD.
  • You take medications known to cause taste changes

Likewise, see your dentist if you suspect oral health is.sues like infections, dental problems, or dry mouth. They can examine your mouth and initiate any needed dental treatment.

When to Use Home Remedies vs Seek Medical Treatment

For mild, temporary cases of sour taste that aren’t worrisome, try using home rinses and remedies to find relief. But you shouldn’t delay getting medical attention if:

  • Symptoms last longer than 2 weeks without improvement
  • You experience pain or difficulty swallowing
  • It interferes with eating, drinking or quality of life
  • You have chronic conditions like diabetes or liver disease
  • Symptoms are worsening or severe

Seeking timely treatment is crucial for identifying underlying causes and restoring normal taste sensations. Be sure to consult your doctor if the problem persists.

Get emergency medical care if you have a sour taste accompanied by severe throat pain, shortness of breath, high fever, vomiting, or trouble breathing. These signs may indicate a serious infection or health problem needing immediate treatment. Don’t hesitate to call 911 or go to urgent care.

FAQs Related to Sour Taste in Mouth

How to get rid of a sour taste in the mouth

  • Drink water or milk to help neutralize acid and rinse away the sour taste.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free mints to promote saliva flow.
  • Use an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Rolaids to neutralize stomach acid.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks like citrus, tomatoes, and coffee until the sour taste goes away.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash.

What causes acidic taste in the mouth

  • Acid reflux/GERD – Stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and mouth.
  • Low saliva production (dry mouth) – Saliva helps neutralize acid.
  • A diet high in acidic foods and drinks.
  • Side effects of some medications.
  • Bad breath – Bacteria produce unpleasant tastes.
  • Sinus drainage down the back of the throat.

Can Prilosec (omeprazole) cause yeast infections?

  • Prilosec is a proton pump inhibitor that reduces stomach acid production.
  • Lower stomach acid levels allow yeast to multiply more easily.
  • Yeast infections are a potential side effect, especially with long-term Prilosec use.
  • Risk is relatively low but watch for symptoms like vaginal itching/discharge.
  • Let your doctor know if you develop a yeast infection while taking Prilosec.

Why do I have a sour taste in my mouth?

There are many possible reasons for sour taste, including acid reflux, particular medications, sinus drainage, hormonal changes, oral infections, and poor oral hygiene. Your doctor can help pinpoint the cause.

How can I get rid of the sour taste in my mouth?

Depending on the cause, improving oral hygiene, staying hydrated, avoiding acidic foods, chewing gum, rinsing with baking soda, and treating medical conditions may help. Persistent cases need evaluation.

Is a sour taste in mouth a symptom of COVID-19?

Yes, taste changes including sour taste are newly recognized symptoms of coronavirus infection. Other COVID-19 symptoms are fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and loss of smell.

What conditions cause a sour taste?

Frequent culprits are acid reflux, medications, sinusitis, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal shifts, oral infections, dry mouth, smoking, and abnormal liver or kidney function.

Why does everything taste sour all of a sudden?

Sudden onset of sour taste is often due to respiratory infections, new medications, pregnancy, or oral health changes. Your doctor can determine if infections, hormones, or lifestyle factors are affecting your taste buds.

Why do some people have an unpleasant, bitter and/or sour taste in their mouths all the time (metallic)?

A persistent bitter or metallic taste can be caused by acid reflux, dry mouth, oral thrush, tooth decay, certain medications, diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and liver or kidney disease. Seeking medical treatment can help identify and address the underlying cause.

Is liver condition related to a bitter taste in the mouth?

Yes, liver diseases like hepatitis can cause a bitter, foul taste in the mouth due to buildup of waste products like ammonia. Elevated ammonia levels can manifest as a bitter taste as the kidneys struggle to filter out excess ammonia.

What causes a person to have a metallic taste in their mouth?

Frequent reasons for metal mouth taste include acid reflux, gum disease, sinus drainage, pregnancy, vitamin deficiencies, neurological disorders, dry mouth, and certain medications. Diagnostic testing helps determine the cause.

Can a bitter taste in ones mouth indicate a medical problem?

A persistent bitter, sour, or metallic taste can signify an underlying medical condition. Common causes include acid reflux, medication use, infections, dry mouth, pregnancy, diabetes, liver or kidney issues. Consulting a doctor is recommended.

Is a bitter taste in the mouth a sign of cancer?

While not a definitive sign, persistent taste changes like bitterness can sometimes be an early symptom with some cancers. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation also frequently cause taste distortion as a side effect.

What does a bitter taste in the mouth indicate?

Bitter taste has many possible causes, including poor oral hygiene, acid reflux, medication use, dry mouth, infections, vitamin deficiencies, pregnancy, and chronic diseases. Evaluation by a medical professional can determine the cause.

Key Takeaways About Sour Taste in Mouth

  • Sour taste has a wide variety of potential causes, ranging from benign to serious.
  • Acid reflux, medications, oral infections, sinus issues, and nutritional deficiencies are among the most common reasons.
  • Practicing good oral hygiene, staying hydrated, and managing reflux can help reduce sour taste problems.
  • Persistent, severe, or worsening taste distortion warrants seeing your physician for evaluation.
  • Simple home remedies may resolve transient cases, while chronic dysgeusia requires treatment of the underlying condition.
  • Pay attention to any accompanying symptoms and contact your doctor if you have concerns about the cause of sour taste.

With so many contributing factors, sour taste can be tricky to diagnose. But being aware of the possible causes and using home remedies for relief can be helpful. Make sure to follow up with your dentist or doctor if the problem persists to address the root cause.

Disclaimer:

The information provided above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical guidance and treatment.

This website does not promote or endorse any specific medical treatments or services. The information provided is purely for informational purposes and should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement.

Chakkaravarthy
Chakkaravarthyhttps://hospitalinchennai.com
Hey there! I'm Chakkaravarthy, a passion for sharing blog posts that make navigating through detailed hospital profiles a breeze. My goal is to provide you with insights into specialties, facilities, and contact details in the simplest way possible. Email: digichakkara@gmail.com
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