Having a constant salty taste in the mouth, even when you haven’t eaten much sodium, can be an alarming symptom.
Diagnosing a taste disorder can be tricky since there are dozens of potential causes.
For example, it can be due to an oral infection, nutritional deficiency, GERD, and more.
In this article, we’ll talk about what might be causing it, as well as what you can do about it.
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s just a fancy way of saying heartburn.
GERD happens whenever stomach acid moves backwards into the esophagus and mouth. Stomach acid is highly acidic.
If it touches the tongue, it can damage your taste buds. This might be why you’re experiencing a salty taste in your mouth.
It’s because your sense of taste has been altered due to damage caused by GERD. Other symptoms include waking up choking and heartburn (burning in the chest area).
The good news? GERD is treatable through lifestyle intervention. Begin by cutting out fatty foods and processed junk.
Also, get more exercise and don’t eat right before bed. This should make your symptom go away.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Although they’re great at killing bacteria, they can also cause strange side effects- specifically, altered taste.
Look at tetracyclines as an example. These antibiotics are used to treat a wide range of infections, including acne and stomach ulcers.
The downside? They can lead to a salty taste in the mouth that doesn’t go away. Here are some other antibiotics that can cause this symptom:
If you’re currently on any of these medications, then they’re likely what’s causing your symptom.
Fortunately, once you stop taking them, your symptom should go away. If you’re feeling worried, talk to your doctor about it.
They may be able to find a suitable substitute that doesn’t come with this side effect. In the meantime, try not to panic knowing that it’s probably nothing serious.
Blood Pressure Medications
Are you currently on any blood pressure medications? If so, this could be the cause.
ACE inhibitors like captopril and enalapril have been known to cause a salty taste in the mouth. Diltiazem, a calcium channel blocker, can also be the cause.
We’ll give you the same advice as we did with the antibiotics- talk to your doctor about finding an appropriate alternative.
In many cases, they’ll be able to give you a different blood pressure medication that doesn’t come with this side effect.
Dehydration – A Common Cause of Salty Taste in Mouth
A common cause that often goes overlooked is dehydration. Many people don’t get enough water throughout the day.
At a minimum, you should be drinking 6-7 glasses/day. If you’re getting less than this, chances are that you’re dehydrated.
When you’re dehydrated, your saliva becomes more concentrated and your lips become saltier.
Most people don’t even realize that they’re dehydrated until they notice the salty taste in their mouth.
Here’s a good way to determine if your dehydration: pinch the skin on the back of your hand.
Does it immediately “snap” back to its original position? Or does it take several seconds to return?
If it takes several seconds, then it means you’re dehydrated and you need to drink more water.
Drinking more water is a quick and easy solution to this annoying symptom.
Known as “sinusitis”, a sinus infection happens whenever your nasal cavities become inflamed.
It’s usually caused by a virus, and can persist for many days. In some cases, a bacteria and fungus can lead to a sinus infection.
Unfortunately, sinus infections cause nasal drainage to hit the mouth. This drainage can taste salty, and can linger for the extent of the infection.
If your symptom is being caused by a sinus infection, there’s not much more you can do other than to wait it out.
If it doesn’t go away after a week, or if it’s getting progressively worse, go see a doctor. They’ll give you anti-viral medicine or antibiotics depending on the cause.
Yet another possibility is smoking. Cigarette smoke can lead to minor infections of the salivary glands.
During the healing process, you might notice a salty flavor. If you smoke daily, then minor infections like these can be quite frequent.
It goes without saying, but try to minimize or eliminate cigarette smoking. Not only can it lead to black mucus, but it also puts you at a higher risk of lung cancer and other diseases.
Other Possible Causes
Here are some other possible causes to consider:
- Sialadenitis: This is an infection of the salivary glands. It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, or as we previously mentioned, smoking.
- Hormonal Changes: Women going through menopause, or people with burning mouth syndrome, might experience this symptom.
- Post Head Surgery: After a head surgery, a potential complication is that cerebrospinal fluid leaks into the back of the throat, explaining the salty flavor.
- Paraneoplastic Syndrome: Patients with ovarian and breast cancer are more likely to develop this rare disorder, which affects the nervous system (and your sense of taste).
- Sjogren’s Syndrome: This is an autoimmune system that can cause glands in the mouth to malfunction, leading to taste sensations.
As you can see, there are many potential causes for a salty taste in the mouth.
If your symptom is chronic, or has lasted for more than seven days, go see a doctor.
They may be able to pinpoint the problem and provide you with an appropriate treatment plan.
Also, keep in mind that many people with taste orders often smell things that aren’t there. That’s because the sense of taste and sense of smell are linked.
Experiencing a taste that isn’t there can be an alarming system. Fortunately, in most cases, it’s due to something minor like dehydration.
It might also be GERD, which is easily treatable with lifestyle intervention. In the case of Sjogren’s syndrome or paraneoplastic syndrome, a more specific treatment plan will be required.