Everything Tastes Salty: Common Reasons for Salty Taste in Mouth

Everything Tastes Salty: Common Reasons for Salty Taste in Mouth
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Having the sensation where everything tastes salty in your mouth can be very annoying taste disorder. Having a constant salty taste in your mouth can make many foods and beverages taste like salt. For some people, the salty sensation in their mouth comes and goes, while for others it is difficult to get rid of the salty taste in their mouth.

Most of the time, a feeling that everything tastes salty isn’t connected with a serious health problem. Some of the reasons for a salty taste in the mouth are dehydration, bleeding from your gums, hormonal changes, or a vitamin deficiency. Usually, when the underlying reasons for the taste disorder that causes the salty taste have been resolved, your sense of taste should return to normal.

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In this article, I will look at the common reasons for having a salty taste in your mouth even when you haven’t eaten anything salty. This will help you know how to resolve the change in your taste sensation and stop everything tasting salty when you consume foods and drinks.

What Is a Salty Taste in the Mouth?

A persistent salty taste in your mouth can be described as a taste disorder where the sensation of your taste buds is altered.

Having a proper sense of taste and smell are essential to enjoying food and drink and can also help detect food that has gone off. If food and drink taste too salty even though you haven’t added salt, it can affect your enjoyment of eating. In fact, having a salty taste in your mouth when you haven’t eaten anything with salt can cause distress and frustration.

According to the journal American Family Physician, your sense of taste is controlled by taste receptors in taste buds on your tongue and oral cavity. These taste buds work to help you taste the 4 main flavors like salty, bitter, sweet, and sour. Taste disturbances can increase or decrease your sense of taste, making everything taste salty, sweet, or even have no taste at all.1

Dr. Steven Bromley from the University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste Center says that taste disturbances can also occur if other organs in the mouth and nose are affected. For example, blocked sinuses, dental procedures, head trauma, and upper respiratory infections can all affect your sense of taste.1

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In fact, Dr. Bromley says that if you have a blocked nose, food may taste too salty, sweet, sour or bitter even though your sense of taste is fine.

Common Reasons Why Everything Tastes Salty

Let’s look in more detail at the most common reasons why everything you eat or drink tastes salty.

Runny nose and a salty taste in your mouth

Having a runny nose because of an allergy or infection is a very common reason for having a salty taste in your mouth.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, a runny nose can cause excess fluid or mucus to drain down the back of your nose.2 This can run down the back of your throat, and the salty taste of nasal fluid could be felt in your mouth.

Also, if you have nasal congestion with a runny nose, the blocked nasal passages could also alter your sense of taste. According to Dr. Neil Lava on WebMD, your ability to taste is directly linked to your ability to smell. If nasal congestion has affected your sense of smell, your taste buds will only be able to detect a few flavors.3

Some common reasons for a runny nose with or without nasal congestion are hay fever, acute sinusitis, suffering from the cold or flu, nasal polyps, or injury to your face or head.

If you suffer from a blocked nose that is making everything taste salty, you can try using some effective essential oils for getting rid of a stuffy nose. Essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree can help to quickly resolve a sinus infection naturally. You can also try these home remedies for blocked and stuffy nose, or try this acupressure technique for clearing stuffy nose in 1 minute.

Oral bleeding

A salty or metallic taste in your mouth could be the result of oral bleeding from your gums or inside of your cheeks.

Blood has a natural metallic or salty taste and if you have gingivitis (bleeding gums) or mouth ulcers, you could have a constant salty taste in your mouth.

Doctors from the National Health Service (NHS) say that gum disease is a common reason for a metallic taste in your mouth. Gums tend to bleed more easily after brushing or flossing and will result in a metallic taste sensation.4

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There are many home remedies to treat gums that regularly bleed after brushing and cause a frequent salty taste in the mouth and they are covered in my article on how to get rid of gum infection (gingivitis) naturally. Also, licorice is known to fight tooth decay and reduce oral inflammation, or you can try the ancient Ayurvedic technique of oil pulling.

If mouth ulcers are the cause of the salty metallic taste in your mouth, then you will find some effective home remedies in my article on how to quickly get rid of mouth sores.

Dental problems can cause salty taste in mouth

A salty taste in your mouth could also be caused by other kinds of dental problems.

Dr. Steven Roth from the American Academy of Cosmetic dentists says that a salty taste in your mouth may be the result of leaky crowns or fillings. It could even be that your toothpaste or mouth rinse is affecting your taste buds and making your mouth feel salty.5

If you think that dental issues are making everything taste salty to you, you should visit your dentist for a checkup.

Side effects of medication can cause a salty mouth

Taste disorders where everything tastes salty and bitter can be the side effect of certain medications.

Doctors report that medications can affect taste and smell. In fact, the journal American Family Physician reports that medications are often overlooked as a cause of an abnormal taste in the mouth. Some common medications that can alter your taste bud receptors are antibiotics, decongestants, hypertension medications, and muscle relaxants.1

If you think that medications are affecting your taste buds and causing a salty taste, you should look at the list of side effects or talk to your doctor.

Acid reflux and a bitter salty taste

Heartburn or acid reflux may make the taste in your mouth feel bitter and salty.

Acid reflux or heartburn is when stomach acid escapes back up your esophagus and can cause a strange taste in your mouth. Dr. Adam Husney on WebMD reports that the backflow of stomach juices may cause a bitter or sour taste in your mouth. Many people with heartburn describe the bitter taste in their mouth as being somewhat salty.6

A chronic form of heartburn is gastroesophageal disease (GERD). As well as causing a bitter salty taste in your mouth, GERD can cause a burning sensation in your chest, a persistent sore throat, or a feeling like you have something stuck in your throat.

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If you have the symptoms of heartburn, you can try drinking baking soda and water. Baking soda helps to neutralize stomach acid and can quickly relieve the discomfort heartburn causes. You can find more home remedies for heartburn in my article about 12 effective natural treatments for heartburn and stomach ulcers.

Hormonal changes can cause salty taste in mouth

Everything may taste bad or salty in your mouth if you have a hormonal imbalance in your body.

Hormones can affect the sense of taste in your body and if your hormones are out of balance, you might have a persistent salty mouth.

For example, the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences reports that many women experience changes in taste during the menstrual cycle. Researchers reported that hormones influence sensations of taste like salty, bitter, sour, and sweet. The study found that the sensation of a salty mouth was more pronounced just before and during ovulation.7

There are many foods that are great for balancing your hormones. You should also know the signs of low progesterone as that can cause menstrual upset like cramping before your period and heavier menstrual flow.

Vitamin deficiency can change taste to salty

A salty mouth could be the result of a vitamin deficiency.

Doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians report that low levels of certain vitamins can alter an individual’s sense of taste. For example, low levels of vitamin B12 and B3 could cause your taste buds to taste salt, sweet, bitter, or sour flavors differently. Also, a vitamin A deficiency can alter your sense of smell, which could also affect how food tastes.1

It’s essential to enjoy a healthy well-balanced diet to make sure your body doesn’t lack essential nutrients.

Dry mouth when everything tastes salty

If everything tastes salty in your mouth, it may mean that you suffer from a dry mouth.

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Dry mouth refers to a condition where your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva and can be caused by conditions such as dehydration, certain medications, radiation treatments, smoking and many more. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, a dry mouth can affect how your taste buds sense food and beverage flavors. This can result in a changed sense of taste where everything tastes saltier, sweeter, more bitter or sour.8

Other symptoms of dry mouth are thick stringy saliva, persistent sore throat, or a grooved tongue. Some ways to remedy dry mouth syndrome is to chew sugar-free gum, sip water frequently, and breathe through your nose.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is one reason for having a dry mouth that can make food and drinks taste salty.

Sjogren’s syndromes is an autoimmune condition that can affect your sense of taste. According to the journal Physiology & Behavior, Sjogren’s syndrome affects the mucous membranes. This can result in dry eyes and a dry mouth and cause an inability to taste certain flavors.9

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak causes chronic salty taste in mouth

A cerebrospinal fluid leak can cause severe headaches along with a persistent salty taste in the mouth.

A CSF leak happens when a tear or hole in the membrane around the brain or spinal cord lets fluid leak. Sometimes CSF leaks are caused by trauma to the head, but in many cases the cause is unknown.

According to doctors from Cedars-Sinai, the main symptom of a cerebrospinal fluid leak is a headache that gets worse when standing or sitting. The headache is usually at the base of the skull or can affect the whole head. However, it is also common that CSF leaks cause a salty or metallic taste in the mouth.10

Other warning signs of a CSF leak are increased sensitivity to light or sound, pain between the shoulder blades, drainage from the ear or nose, or ringing in the ears.

Radiotherapy and a salty taste in the mouth

If you have undergone a course of treatment for cancer, you may have a salty taste in your mouth for a while.

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer can cause a condition called dysgeusia. According to the National Institutes of Health, dysgeusia distorts a person’s sense of taste. This can cause a persistent salty, foul, or metallic taste in the mouth.11

According to the Scientific World Journal, taste disorders are common after a course of cancer treatment. It is estimated that up to 70% of people receiving cancer treatment will experience some degree of dysgeusia.12

When to See a Doctor for Persistent Salty Taste in Mouth

In most cases, the annoying salty taste in your mouth should go away. This is especially true if the salty mouth was caused by an infection, runny nose, or dental problems. When you treat the underlying cause of the salty flavor in your mouth, you should notice that your sense of taste returns to normal.

Dr. Hayley Willacy on Patient.info says that if you have a persistent salty taste in your mouth and your symptoms don’t improve, you should visit your doctor.13

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. Am Fam Physician.2000 Jan 15;61(2):427-436.
  2. MayoClinic. Runny
  3. WebMD. Anosmia.
  4. NHS. Metallic taste.
  5. WebMD. I get a salty taste in my mouth after I brush and rinse.
  6. WebMD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  7. J Nutr Food Sci. 5:383
  8. MayoClinc. Dry mouth.
  9. Physiol Behav.1995 Jan;57(1):89-96.
  10. Cedars-Sinai. Cerebrospinal fluid leak.
  11. NIDCD. Taste disorder.
  12. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014; 2014: 581795.
  13. PatientInfo. Smell and taste disorders.
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