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What Causes a Sour Taste in the Mouth with COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause some strange symptoms, and one of the more peculiar ones is a sour, metallic, or acidic taste in the mouth. While losing your sense of taste and smell are more well-known effects, many COVID patients also experience an unpleasant sour mouth taste. Let’s explore what causes this weird symptom and what you can do about it.

What is the Sour Taste of COVID?

The sour taste that some COVID-19 patients experience has been described in various ways – metallic, acidic, or even a bit like drinking tonic water with quinine. It’s an off, sour flavor that lingers and makes everything you eat or drink taste funky.

Adjectives UsedDescription
SourLike sucking on a lemon
MetallicSimilar taste to sucking on a penny
AcidicUnpleasant, vinegar-like taste

This unusual taste distortion often starts a few days into having COVID symptoms like fever, cough, and fatigue. For some it’s one of the first signs they’ve been infected.

Potential Causes of Sour Mouth Taste with COVID

There are a few factors that may contribute to developing a sour COVID taste:

Disrupted Taste and Smell

One of COVID’s trademarks is depleting taste and smell senses by attacking support cells in the nose. This can create a sweet-sour confusion where formerly pleasant flavors are interpreted as sour or metallic instead.

Dry Mouth

COVID-19 can also decrease saliva production, leading to dry mouth (also called xerostomia). Since saliva plays a huge role in taste, a lack of it can massively distort flavors and leave a sour trace.

Post-Viral Effects

Even after the active COVID-19 infection clears up, some patients experience lingering impacts like sour dysgeusia (taste distortion). This may be the result of damage to taste pathways that take time to heal.


Certain drugs used to treat COVID like antibiotics, antivirals, and steroids can potentially cause sour or metallic tastes as a side effect. Anecdotally, some patients believe these contributed to their unpleasant COVID tastes.

How Long Does the Sour Taste Last?

For most COVID patients, the sour or metallic taste starts a few days into symptoms and lasts anywhere from a week to a couple of months at most. Factors that may prolong it include:

  • The severity of illness: More severe COVID cases tend to have longer-lasting taste issues
  • Dry mouth: Lack of saliva production can worsen sour tastes
  • Medications: Certain drug treatments may exacerbate the issue
  • Age: Older adults sometimes take longer to fully recover taste

The sooner you’re through the acute infection, the sooner the yucky tastes should subside. However, if the sour taste persists for many months, it’s wise to get evaluated for other causes like oral health problems.

Remedies and Coping with Sour COVID Taste

While that lingering sour taste is unpleasant, there are some tips for making it more bearable:

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help thin out saliva and wash away sour tastes. Chewing sugar-free gum or hard candies can also stimulate saliva flow.

Try taste bud retraining: Expose your tastebuds to different flavor profiles (sour, bitter, sweet, etc.) which may help reset them over time.

Be patient: For most COVID patients, the sour taste is temporary and will resolve within a few weeks as the illness runs its course.

Other Taste Changes with COVID-19

The sour taste is just one way COVID-19 can distort the senses. Other common taste issues include:

  • Complete taste loss (ageusia)
  • Smell loss (anosmia) which impacts flavor perception
  • Sweet things tasting overly sour or bitter
  • Heightened or more intense sour tastes
  • Phantom smell hallucinations like burning odors

Essentially, COVID can throw taste and smell receptors out of whack in all kinds of bizarre ways during and after active infection.

When to Be Concerned About Taste Issues

While odd tastes are par for the course with COVID, there are a few cases when more evaluation is warranted:

Severe or complete taste/smell loss: If these senses don’t start returning after a few weeks, get checked for lasting nerve damage.

Sour taste persisting long after recovery: Lingering dysgeusia for many months could indicate another underlying issue.

New oral health problems: Rule out issues like oral thrush, dental problems, or salivary gland stones that can also alter taste.

For most COVID patients though, the strange sour or metallic taste is uncomfortable but temporary. Have patience, stay hydrated, and your taste buds should return to normal before too long.

People Also Ask

Is a sour taste in your mouth serious?

A sour, metallic, or acidic taste in the mouth is generally not considered a serious symptom on its own when associated with COVID-19. However, it can be quite unpleasant and disruptive. The sour taste is likely caused by the virus’s impact on smell and taste receptors, dry mouth, or medication side effects.

While annoying, it’s typically temporary and will resolve once the active infection clears up. If the sour dysgeusia persists for many months after recovery, it’s a good idea to get evaluated for any lasting nerve damage or other underlying causes.

How do I get rid of the bad taste in my mouth after COVID?

There are a few tips that may help alleviate the sour, metallic COVID taste:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and sucking on sugar-free hard candies to promote saliva flow.
  • Try taste bud retraining exercises by intentionally exposing your taste buds to different flavors.
  • Use strong-flavored foods/drinks like citrus, mints, or pickle juice to temporarily overpower the bad taste.
  • Brush teeth and tongue frequently with alcohol-free products.
  • Be patient – for most, the bad taste will gradually improve over a few weeks as the illness resolves.

If the sour taste lingers for months after recovering, speak to a doctor to rule out any ongoing issues.

What deficiency causes a sour taste in the mouth?

There are a few potential nutritional deficiencies that could contribute to sour or metallic taste dysgeusia:

  • Zinc deficiency can impair taste and smell receptors.
  • A dry mouth from dehydration can concentrate and accentuate sour tastes.
  • Vitamin B12 or folate deficiencies may cause tongue inflammation and taste disturbances.
  • Mineral deficiencies like not getting enough copper, iron, or selenium.

However, with COVID-19 specifically, the sour taste is more likely caused by the virus directly impacting taste pathways rather than an underlying nutritional issue. Eating a balanced diet with adequate hydration is still recommended.

How do you get rid of COVID mouth?

“COVID mouth” refers to the combination of taste disturbances, dry mouth, and other oral issues some patients experience. To help relieve “COVID mouth” symptoms:

  • Stay very well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Use saliva substitutes, lozenges, or OTC dry mouth sprays.
  • Try taste bud retraining exercises.
  • Rinse regularly with alcohol-free mouthwashes.
  • Brush teeth gently with a soft bristle brush.
  • Suck on sugar-free hard candies or chew gum to stimulate saliva.
  • Use humidifiers to add moisture to the air.

Be patient as these symptoms typically improve and resolve within a few weeks for most COVID-19 patients as the active illness runs its course. See a dentist if issues persist long-term.


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.

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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