Sweet Taste in Mouth: Causes, Solutions, and When to See a Doctor

Sweet Taste in Mouth - Causes and Solutions
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We know that eating candies or drinking soda will leave a sweet taste in our mouths. However, if you frequently have a sweet sensation in your mouth without consuming sugary foods you might be worried about the cause. Having a heightened sense of taste is called hypergeusia. Although many people complain of a bitter or sour taste in their mouth, the abnormal taste sensation can cause a sweet taste in your mouth.

The ongoing sweet sensation in your mouth can be caused by a number of medical reasons. For example, diabetes can cause your saliva to taste sweet, or the sweet taste in your mouth could be caused by medications or a bacterial infection. Some people on a low-carb diet say that they develop a constant sweetness in their mouths. However, the sweet taste in your mouth can be a sign of a more serious condition like lung cancer.

In this article, you will find out the many reasons for having constant sweetness or fruity taste in your mouth. Usually, to get rid of the sweet taste you have to address the underlying medical problem.

Causes and Solutions of Sweet Taste in Mouth

Occasionally having a sweet taste left over in your mouth is because of consuming sugary foods or drinks. If the sweet sensation has no discernible cause, then it could be a result of one of the following medical conditions.

Diabetes

Diabetes interferes with how insulin in the body affects blood sugar levels. This results in high levels of sugar, or glucose, in the blood and in some cases, causes a constant sweet taste in your mouth. If you have diabetes, it’s important to control your blood sugar levels properly to avoid diabetes complications.

Diabetes can cause changes to your sense of taste. A study in 2016 from Brazil found that many diabetic patients have a reduced ability to detect sweet tastes. The researchers found that people with diabetes are less sensitive to sweet stimuli. This can lead to an increase in sugar consumption which can aggravate the symptoms of diabetes.2

On the other hand, one serious diabetic complication which is actually linked to constant sweetness in your mouth is diabetic ketoacidosis. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body can’t use sugar for fuel. It then breaks down fat for fuel and this causes blood acids called ketones to build up. This can cause you to have a fruity-scented breath.1

However, there are more serious side effects of diabetic ketoacidosis. Along with a sweet taste in your mouth, you may have abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting, excessive thirst, or confusion. If you suspect diabetic ketoacidosis, you should call your doctor immediately as it can be fatal if left untreated.1

Depending on the severity of your diabetes, your doctor may recommend that your diabetes can be controlled by diet or you may need medication. There are also many herbs and spices that help control blood sugar levels.

Neurological problems

Damage to your taste sensory nerves could leave you with a constant sweet taste in your mouth. For example, if you have suffered a stroke or have seizures, your sense of taste can be either heightened or impaired.

The Canadian Journal of Neuroscience Nursing reported that strokes can cause smell and taste dysfunction. For example, after a stroke, some people lose the ability to detect all tastes apart from sweet tastes. This can have a negative impact on quality of life and lead to nutritional issues.3

Another report found that a brain tumor affected a person’s sense of taste so that everything tasted either sweet or salty. When the tumor was successfully treated, the sense of taste returned and the patient lost the constant sweet sensation from eating food.4

To reduce your risk for developing a stroke, please refer to my article about 10 life saving tips for lowering your stroke risk.

Bacterial infections

Sometimes, a bacterial infection of your upper respiratory tract can leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth. Bacterial infections can interfere with how your brain responds to sweet, bitter, sour, and salty tastes. If you have had a cold, flu, or a sinus infection, you might find that you have a sensation of sweetness in your mouth until the infection clears.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that infections to the airways affect taste receptors. One of the consequences of this is that it affects your sweet taste receptors and causes elevated glucose levels in nasal secretions.5

There are many ways to help cure a respiratory tract infection naturally. For example, echinacea tea helps to boost your immune system and recover quicker from the cold or flu. Or you can use garlic to help get rid of infections quickly thanks to its natural antiviral and antibiotic properties.

Medications

A constant sweet taste in your mouth is a side effect of some medications. Of course, if you are taking medications for a serious illness or disease, then the constant sensation of sweetness in your mouth is only a minor side effect of the drugs.

The American Academy of Family Physicians reported that certain medications can alter your sense of taste. For example, some high-blood pressure medications can cause you to have a strong sweet taste in your mouth.6

If the persistent sweet taste is affecting your diet or quality of life, you should speak to your doctor who may be able to prescribe an alternative medication. Usually, the sweet taste should go away when you change or stop taking your medicine.

Your sense of smell

An altered sense of smell can also cause you to only taste sweet things when you eat or drink. According to Neil Lava on WebMD, your ability to smell directly affects your ability to taste. A loss of smell could mean that you can only taste a few flavors.7

A study published in the journal Chemical Senses reported that various odors can affect how we taste different foods. Certain odors enhance sweet tastes while other smells inhibit your ability to taste sweet things.8

Being on a low-carb diet

Many people who follow a low-carb diet report that they develop a constant fruity, sweet taste in their mouth. Low-carb diets have helped many people to lose weight quickly and naturally. The function of carbohydrates in the body is to provide a source of fuel. A diet that restricts carbohydrates can actually have a positive effect on insulin levels, reduce food cravings, and boost metabolism.

The sweet taste in your mouth while on a low-carb diet comes from the process called ketosis. This is where your body starts burning fat for energy and this causes acids called ketones build up in the body. This can cause sweetness in your mouth.

Dr.  Michael Dansinger on WebMD says that ketosis in healthy individuals is a normal process when following a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Although high levels of ketones in the blood can become dangerous, Dr. Dansinger says that a healthy low-carb diet shouldn’t cause any problems.9

Oral submucous fibrosis

Oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) is a disease that affects people who chew betel nut. OSF causes serious complications and can lead to oral cancer. However, oral submucous fibrosis can also cause a feeling of sweetness in the mouth that doesn’t go away.

The journal Contemporary Clinical Dentistry reported that people suffering from OSF have experienced heightened senses of taste. Among the tastes dysfunctions that oral submucous fibrosis causes are a persistent sweet taste in the mouth.10

Lung cancer

In rare occasions, an unpleasant sweet taste in the mouth could be one of the signs of lung cancer. This occurs because sometimes tumors in the lung can cause high levels of a hormone that affects a person’s sense of taste.

Researchers have found that a taste-modifying substance can cause patients to interpret all foods as sweet.11

Of course, a constant sweet taste in your mouth doesn’t mean you have lung cancer. There are many other, more common symptoms of lung cancer that you should be aware of.

Sweet Taste in Mouth – When to See a Doctor

A constant sweet taste in your mouth can be a symptom of a serious disease. Therefore, you should always see a doctor if the sweetness in your mouth persists and it starts to affect your eating habits and quality of life.

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Article Sources:
  1. MayoClinic. Diabetic ketoacidosis.
  2. Rev Rene. 2016 July-Aug; 17(4):483-9
  3. Can J Neurosci Nurs. 2008;30(2):10-3.
  4. Hypergeusia as a symptom of posterior fossa lesion.
  5. J Clin Invest. 2014 Mar 3; 124(3): 1393–1405.
  6. AAFP. Smell and taste disorders.
  7. WebMD. What is anosmia?
  8. Chem Senses. 1999 Dec;24(6):627-35.
  9. WebMD. What is ketosis?
  10. Contemp Clin Dent. 2016 Apr-Jun; 7(2): 146–152.
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