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Medications That Cause a Metallic Taste in the Mouth

by
author image Dr. Tina M. St. John
Tina M. St. John runs a health communications and consulting firm. She is also an author and editor, and was formerly a senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John holds an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.
Medications That Cause a Metallic Taste in the Mouth
Most medication-related taste disorders resolve with discontinuation of the drug. Photo Credit Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

Overview

Along with their desired actions, medications can also cause unwanted side effects. Certain medications may cause a metallic taste in the mouth, which can interfere with the enjoyment of food and intake of adequate nutrition. This side effect, known as dysgeusia, can occur with a variety of medications ranging from antibiotics to cancer medications.

ACE Inhibitors

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors, are medications used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. These commonly prescribed drugs may cause a metallic taste in the mouth and other taste disturbances, such as partial loss of taste perception. Captopril, one of many different ACE inhibitors, causes taste disturbances in approximately two to four percent of people taking the drug, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved prescribing information.

Other ACE inhibitors that may cause a metallic taste in the mouth include lisinopril, fosinopril, enalapril, trandolapril, quinapril and ramipril, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Taste disturbances often resolve with continued use of ACE inhibitors.

Metformin

Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed oral medications for type 2 diabetes mellitus. The FDA-approved prescribing information indicates that approximately three percent of people experience a metallic taste in the mouth when beginning metformin drug therapy. This side effect typically resolves with continued use of the medication.

Antibiotics

A metallic taste in the mouth and other taste abnormalities may occur while taking certain antibiotics. Three frequently prescribed antibiotics associated with this side effect include clarithromycin, metronidazole and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, reports Dr. Scott Moses on FamilyPracticeNotebook.com. Azithromycin and ethionamide may also cause a metallic taste in the mouth.

Antithyroid Medications

People with an overactive thyroid gland often take antithyroid medications to decrease thyroid hormone production. These medications can cause taste disturbances, including a metallic taste in the mouth, reports the National Library of Medicine's online encyclopedia MedlinePlus. Radioactive iodine, propylthiouracil and methimazole are the three antithyroid medications commonly used in the United States.

Cancer Chemotherapy

Certain cancer chemotherapy medications can interfere with normal taste. The platinum-containing drugs cisplatin and carboplatin can cause a metallic taste in the mouth, reports the American Cancer Society. Other anticancer drugs that may be associated with taste changes, including a metallic taste, include paclitaxel, vincristine, methotrexate, levamisole, doxorubicin, dacarbazine, mechlorethamine and cyclophosphamide.

Lithium

The medicinal form of the metal lithium remains a mainstay of treatment for bipolar disorder. A metallic taste in the mouth proves a common adverse side effect of lithium therapy, according to the FDA-approved prescribing information for the drug.

Methocarbamol

The prescription muscle relaxant methocarbamol may cause a metallic taste in the mouth, notes Brigham and Women's Hospital. The medication is commonly prescribed for the treatment of sprains, strains and other muscle injuries.

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