Metallic Taste in Mouth During Pregnancy 2022: Causes & Treatments
There are pathophysiological conditions known to have negative effects on the regulation of taste buds, such as aging, upper respiratory tract infections, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and cancer.
Recently, the inability to taste at all has been one of the features of the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike a disease state, pregnancy may lead to taste perception changes, too. This strange metallic taste is commonly identified by pregnant women as bitter, burnt, and sour.
Even though the exact mechanism for this is not clear, one reason might be the change in the detection and recognition thresholds for different taste stimulations due to pregnancy hormones, i.e., dysgeusia.
Read on to know how to get rid of the metallic taste in your mouth during pregnancy.
Is Metallic Taste in Mouth During Pregnancy Normal?
Yes, it is normal to have a metallic taste in the mouth due to physiological changes during the pregnancy period sometimes; however, women should be aware of other causes of metallic taste in the mouth to avoid any disease state.
The most challenging pregnancy symptoms are nausea and vomiting for many pregnant women and these are commonly seen in nearly every woman, especially in the first trimester.
It starts early in pregnancy about the 4th week and is expected to disappear about the 12-16th week. During pregnancy, one of every 200 pregnant women goes beyond this nausea to develop “hyperemesis gravidarum.”
Nausea in pregnancy generally occurs in the morning and therefore it is also called morning sickness.
Typically, any bad taste in the mouth goes away by the second trimester when the gustatory sense normalizes. If not, continued nausea can lead to severe problems.
Severe nausea and vomiting lead to weight loss and dehydration. If prolonged, it can cause growth restrictions for babies.
Laboratory tests may reveal ketosis (spilling of ketones in the urine), and low sodium, potassium, or chloride in the blood.
According to a case-control study, there is significant variation in the subjective perception of taste perception between pregnant women and non-pregnant women.
About 3% of pregnant women were observed to have a functional loss in taste bud discrimination as a pregnancy symptom. There was a significant change in sour taste and total taste perception scores between pregnant and non-pregnant women.
This study showed that taste function was altered as pregnancy progresses compared to non-pregnant women, and this may cause dietary changes in some pregnant women.
Causes of Metal Taste in Mouth While Pregnant
Changes in the gustatory sense were investigated in 127 women of whom 97 were pregnant.
All women were questionnaired about taste changes; 92.8% of pregnant women reported that they experienced some sort of taste changes, usually represented as a sour taste.
32 pregnant women underwent further electro-gustometric tests closely linked to nerve function about tasting. Additionally, blood micronutrient levels were also measured in 72 pregnant women.
There also there was a significant decrease in gustatory function stated in the first trimester. It was shown that taste thresholds were higher in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women, meaning the intensity of flavor had to be higher before the taste bud nerves fired off.
Although serum levels of phosphorus, copper, strontium, and sodium were increased, which correlated with these results according to the pregnancy weeks, there also were decreased serum levels of zinc, iron, and calcium along the duration of pregnancy.
However, it also should be remembered that changes might relate to natural changes in the need for micronutrients during pregnancy.
Sometimes it can be thought in the metallic taste in the mouth and gender can be related but there is no scientific evidence for this situation.
According to a Cochrane Meta-analysis, there are no prescribed medicines, certain foods or interventions guaranteed to manage morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum currently.
It might be suggested that women who have a metallic taste or nausea and vomiting should listen to their bodies for the foods that help them with these problems.
However, because of the severity of hyperemesis, maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and overall nutrition might be challenging. This is why prenatal vitamins are important in these patients.
Are pregnancy hormones the only reason for the metallic taste? A number of factors were investigated to understand taste changes during pregnancy. Let’s examine how these factors may affect taste:
Researchers noted that the natural increase in consumption of calories, especially salty or sugary food intake, could change the threshold of the taste buds.
Food overconsumption might affect both nausea and loss of taste sensitivity. This can cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
Changes In Pregnancy Hormones
During pregnancy, hormones begin to increase, such as human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), human placental lactogen, estrogen, and progesterone.hCG hormone levels, especially, increase in the first trimester; similar in structure to thyroid hormone, an increase can evoke nausea and vomiting like hyperthyroidism.
Oral Hygiene And Changes In Microflora
Physiological changes during pregnancy affect the oral bacterial flora of women, making them vulnerable to caries formation. This affects oral health.
Increased sensitivity, edema, and bleeding may occur in pregnant women, which may lead many women to fall behind in their oral health.
Furthermore, increased cravings for sweet/salty food, vomiting/hyperemesis, and dysgeusia occurring during pregnancy worsen oral health. Altered microflora can cause different taste perceptions, including metallic or bitter taste.
It is reported that some pregnant women can be faced with increased saliva production, especially in the early stages of pregnancy progresses.
The reason of increase saliva production in pregnant women can be due to hyperemesis and heartburn which decrease the swallow reflex.
Drinking adequate water is always a challenging dietary habit for many people. During pregnancy, drinking plenty of water is necessary for whole body health as well as to mitigate dry mouth. A dry mouth can also provoke a bitter or metallic taste.
Craving salty foods can occur in many people after vomiting or diarrhea and are commonly observed during pregnancy.
Prenatal Vitamin Status
A systematic review of the causes of and current treatments for nausea list ginger, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and acupressure, especially in the first trimester. These results, however, although obtained from peer-reviewed studies, are cited as being weak evidence.
How to Treat?
Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene and increasing the amount of beneficial microflora help to reduce metallic taste during pregnancy.
Changing to healthier food choices that include high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, veggies, healthy oils, good sources of protein, and decreasing excessive sugar and salt have the potential to remedy a strong metallic taste.
The researchers examined ginger, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and acupressure may be effective, especially in the first trimester. However, although these results were obtained from peer-reviewed studies, they are cited as being weak evidence.
Avoiding dry mouth might be helpful to avoid metallic taste in the mouth while supporting the general health and water needs of pregnant women.
Masking The Taste
To increase life quality women who have a metallic taste during pregnancy can try to mask that bitter taste with sugarless gum, citrus juices & fruits, mint, or ginger. Also, rinsing the mouth before meals can be helpful.
Avoid Using Metal Cups
Using glass or ceramic cups can help to decrease metallic sense while eating.
The Bottom Line
During pregnancy, it is normal to have different tastes in your mouth, especially metallic or bitter tastes, that are part of pregnancy changes in your body.
However, the metallic taste in your mouth can be a part of dysgeusia seen with nausea and vomiting or certain medications.
Many pregnant women try to solve this problem by increasing their mouth cleaning, with strong-tasting foods such as ginger, or by consuming acidic foods such as fruits, eating veggies, or doing acupressure to specific points in the body which are believed to relieve nausea and vomiting symptoms.
Also, you should give attention to your oral health to reduce these pregnancy symptoms.
There is no evidence-based medical treatment to recover from taste changes; however, the small changes in daily life habits should have beneficial effects.
A pregnant woman who has such a pregnancy-related problem should ask for professional advice from their medical professional because a metallic taste in the mouth during pregnancy early sign of other medical conditions apart from pregnancy.
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