Cause of disruptive bad taste in mouth is hard to pin down
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have talked to numerous doctors about my problem, but no one has an answer, and most don’t take it seriously. I have a terrible taste in my mouth all the time. Sometimes it is bearable, but often it is so bad that it makes me gag and choke. The only way I can stand it is by sucking on sugar-free mints, but that also makes me sick to my stomach. I have been on dialysis for three and a half years. My kidney doctor says that this shouldn’t cause the problem, but the time coincides with the bad taste. This is reducing the quality of my life in a huge way. — J.S.
ANSWER: Bad taste in the mouth (we use the Greek term for “bad taste,” which is “dysgeusia”) can be caused by several diseases, as well as by medications. While it certainly is associated with people developing end-stage kidney disease, it is uncommon in people who are on dialysis. For some people, increasing the time on dialysis can help (either through more times per week or by more hours per time). Eating less protein has helped some people, too. The timing makes me suspicious, as it does you, but it’s always wise to look at all of the possibilities.
I would check with your dentist, since dental issues are one common cause. Too much of some metals (chrome, zinc, lead, copper) and too little of another (zinc, again) can cause taste changes. Neurological problems, like Parkinson disease and multiple sclerosis, can cause it, but I have never seen someone have that as an initial symptom.
An ear/nose/throat doctor (otolaryngologist, also called a head and neck surgeon) would be a good resource.
Bad taste in the mouth (we use the Greek term for “bad taste,” which is “dysgeusia”) can be caused by several diseases...