When a salty taste appears in your mouth, yet you have not eaten high sodium foods, the source of this taste can be a mystery.
If you notice the sensation does not go away for a period of days or weeks despite repeated brushing, flossing, gargling with mouthwash or eating other foods, the salty taste may be attributable to an underlying cause…
A salty taste in one’s mouth is actually quite common.
Some doctors and dentists see many patients each year with the same complaint or a similar one of metallic taste or burning sensation in the mouth.
The first step to fixing the problem is that of figuring out why it exists.
Where to Seek Help for Salty Taste in Your Mouth
Start with your dentist, if you have a persistent salty taste which does not go away for a long period of time.
He or she will conduct an oral exam to see if dental problems are the cause of your problem.
You may have an;
• oral infection
• tooth decay
• gum disease
• or other dental issues
If this is not the case, seeing your primary care physician is the next step.
Common Causes of Salty Taste in the Mouth
Your primary care physician will likely conduct a thorough physical examination and look into your medical history to determine what may be causing the concern.
There are several areas your doctor will likely first explore, as far as what could be responsible.
• Digestive disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease
• Sinus infection
• Medication side effects
• Hormonal changes
More rare conditions causing a salty taste in the mouth includes:
• Complication of past head surgery
• Paraneoplastic syndrome
• Sjogren’s syndrome
• Sensory disorder
• Nutritional deficiency
• Endocrine disorders
• Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy or a migraine
Some of these possible causes of salty flavor in the mouth are explored, below:
Dehydration is the most likely cause of salty taste in your mouth.
Dehydration causes chemicals in saliva to become highly concentrated and lips become saltier.
People exposed to hot environments or those who exercise regularly are most susceptible to this type of dehydration which may be unnoticed until the salty taste appears.
To determine whether you are dehydrated and this condition is causing your salty tasting mouth, look at your tongue in the mirror.
Your tongue should appear smooth and wet. If it appears dry, you are experiencing dehydration.
A second test is that of pinching the skin on the back of your hand, which should immediately spring back into place when released.
If you have not stayed hydrated, your skin will remain out of shape for several seconds.
To fix this problem, simply hydrate. Drink plenty of water and monitor your condition.
If you return to a more hydrated state and the salty taste in your mouth remains for days or weeks, you likely have a different cause for the problem.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Commonly referred to as acid reflux, this condition can be alleviated through changes to your lifestyle and diet, as well as through medication.
Acid reflux can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from pregnancy to poor diet, a hiatal hernia to obesity. Eating too close to bedtime is another cause of acid reflux.
As part of this condition, stomach acids back up into the throat or mouth and cause a bitter taste.
This taste may come across as salty to you, or it can be fouler.
Heartburn often accompanies this acid reflux and may indicate that it is the source of your issue.
Dietary changes may fix the problem or your doctor can recommend solutions or prescribe medication to treat the condition.
Sinus infections and allergies cause post-nasal drainage.
This drainage can be salty in flavor, subtly lacing the back of your throat and mouth with a thin film of sinus fluid.
Antibiotics or allergy medications may be able to alleviate these problems and, in turn, the salty flavor.
As another reason to quit smoking, the salty taste in your mouth may be a side effect of the habit.
Smokers often suffer minor infections of the salivary glands which resolve on their own quickly, producing a salty flavor in the process.
In heavier smokers, these infections can be frequent, producing an almost constant salty flavor in the mouth.
Sialadenitis is an infection of the salivary glands.
These glands usually become infected in their locations beneath the chin or in front of the ear.
The cause is usually viral or bacterial and can be treated with medications.
Like any oral or regional infection, sialadenitis can cause salty-flavored fluid seepage which enters the mouth.
Medication Side Effects
» blood pressure medications
» thyroid medication
and other medications can cause salty taste in the mouth.
Changing to a new prescription may help alleviate the problem.
Hormonal changes of menopause can cause degenerative changes in oral nerves, triggering burning mouth syndrome.
This causes taste disturbances and may create a salty flavor. A doctor can recommend a daily dose of zinc which may fix the problem.
Complication of Head Surgery
After head surgery, cerebrospinal fluid may leak down the back of the throat, thus explaining the salty flavor in the mouth.
Patients with breast, ovarian or other cancers can develop this rare disorder, as part of which tumor-related substances affect the central nervous system.
The nervous system then experiences sensory perception issues, which may include the salty flavor in the mouth.
According to a Yale study, the tongue’s temperature can result in the salty taste in your mouth.
This chronic autoimmune disorder causes the immune system to attack its own moisture-producing glands.
The glands malfunction, resulting in oral dryness, dry eyes and dry nasal passages. The skin is also dehydrated.
Joints become painful due to poor lubrication, the digestive system experiences upset and neurological problems may result.
Some of these problems, particularly the dryness of the mouth and digestive issues such as acid reflux, may cause a salty flavor in the mouth.
Other Options for Your Mysterious Salty Flavor
If your doctor cannot figure out the root cause of your salty flavor issue, you may be able to request a referral to a specialist.
A chemosensory center provides evaluations which might prove helpful.
These evaluations include a test referred to as a “sip, spit and rinse” test, during which chemicals are applied to the tongue.
Your sense of taste is closely related to the sense of smell. Because these two senses work in tandem, that sense may be evaluated, as well.
There are “scratch and sniff” type tests which can be administered, in addition to other tests.
Major hospitals, including research hospitals, often have chemosensory centers.
After a thorough investigation, it very well may be that your sense of salty taste remains a mystery.
But this should not be too disconcerting, as having a salty flavor in your mouth will not cause physical harm or threaten your life.
Such problems often resolve on their own, as the body uses its own systems to return itself to a normal balance.
This can take anywhere from days to a year or more. So patience will pay off if you realize one day that the flavor is gone.
Many people with this type of issue find it helpful to chew xylitol-sweetened gum, use a moisturizing oral spritzer (check price on amazon.com) throughout the day, and drink plenty of healthy fluids like water.
Keep an eye on your diet and ensure you are not eating foods with a lot of hidden sodium, such as packaged or prepared foods.
Together, all of these practices can help reduce and even resolve your salty flavor problem.