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Q: Constant Salty Taste ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Constant Salty Taste
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: rickybee-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 25 Apr 2005 20:33 PDT
Expires: 25 May 2005 20:33 PDT
Question ID: 514226
I have been experiencing a constant taste of salt (I think from my
lips) for the last 2 months.  Even if I am eating something sweet, it
still has a salty after taste.  What could be causing this?
Subject: Re: Constant Salty Taste
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 25 Apr 2005 22:29 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello rickybee,

  ?E.J. FRANCZAK, MD, of Agincourt, ON, writes: "I have a patient
who's been complaining for years of a salty taste on her lips. Do you
have any ideas about causes or management?"
Evaluation of dysgeusia (bad taste in the mouth) includes a thorough
examination of the oral cavity, checking for periodontal disease and
xerostomia. Certain medications such as lithium and metronidazole may
induce dysgeusia. In idiopathic cases, there's no effective therapy.
Reassuring the patient that she is healthy is very important, however,
since many people are anxious that this may be the first sign of a
serious illness.?

Douglas Hoffman, MD, PhD  says ?There are a few possible explanations
for your problem. Before discussing these possibilities, I'd like to
point out that a salty taste truly does originate in the mouth (or
brain) -- the nose can be ignored in this discussion. This may seem
obvious to you, but it's an important point. Smell and taste are
inextricably intertwined, so many "phantom tastes" are, in fact,
"phantom smells." The list of possible explanations for "phantom
smells" is quite different. In your case, we can ignore these
possibilities; a variety of odors can simulate sweet, bitter or sour
tastes, but I do not know of any odors that simulate a salty taste.
So ... if your mouth is where the action is, what could this be?
1) The chemical composition of saliva may change in response to
hydration. (In other words, are you drinking enough liquids?) If you
are chronically dehydrated, you may have saltier saliva. Take a close
look at what you drink. Some folks drink only caffeinated beverages
and alcoholic beverages. Caffeine is a diuretic -- it makes you
urinate -- so a steady diet of coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks
will leach water from your body. Alcohol is even worse in this regard.
The salinity (salt content) of saliva may also change in response to
medications and salivary gland disease. A number of noninfectious and
infectious diseases can afflict the salivary glands; examples of each,
respectively, are Sjogren's disease and bacterial sialadenitis.

2)Postnasal drainage can often have an odor and a taste. Bacterial
sinusitis, for example, can cause bad breath and a foul taste in one's
mouth. I would not be too surprised if a patient reported this taste
as "salty." Postnasal drainage secondary to nasal allergy (allergic
rhinitis) might also be salty. Usually folks with postnasal drainage
are aware of their condition. If you are not "full of mucus," then
this is an unlikely explanation for your problem.

3)Tears are very salty. The tear ducts drain into the nasal cavity;
once tears enter the nasal cavity, they drain down the back of the
throat. (People constantly produce tears, by the way; you don't have
to cry to have tears!) This is really unlikely, but perhaps you are
overproducing tears.

4)Here's one more really unlikely possibility: Since sensation
ultimately resides in the brain, the problem could be upstairs.
Migraine, epilepsy and brain tumor all come to mind, but each of these
would be exceptionally rare explanations for your problem.?,,6hf8,00.html?iv_arrivalSA=1&iv_cobrandRef=0&iv_arrival_freq=1&pba=adid=15444627

?Dear Dr. SerVaas: 
This letter is in response to the woman in Mississippi who has been
experiencing a salty taste from her lips and fingers. I had a similar
problem ten years ago.
After complaining for some weeks that everything tasted salty, I
discovered that the lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. I also
developed a white lesion near one of my tonsils, which tested negative
for strep.
The culprit was an open container of rock salt which had been left in
a hall closet since the previous winter. The salt, absorbing moisture
from the air, had liquefied and was spreading its irritating gas
throughout my house through the ventilating system.
Please tell this woman to check for any chemicals in her environment
that may be causing her problem. I wish someone had alerted me to this

Tamer Fouad, M.D says: ?What you are experiencing is an abnormal
sensation in the tongue. Most of the authorities associate taste and
smell together all the time so what you might think is related to
taste could actually be related to smell.

Taste and smell dysfunctions have several causes 
1. Common cold and influenza. 
2. Nose and throat infections. 
3. Dry mouth. 
4. Smoking (especially pipe). Do you smoke? 
5. Vitamin B-12 or mineral (like zinc) deficiency. 
6. Gingivitis. 
7. Drug side effects such as antithyroid drugs, captopril,
griseofulvin, lithium, penicillamine, procarbazine, rifampin,
vinblastine, or vincristine.
8. Sjogren's syndrome (Dry mouth and eyes associated with some
autoimmune diseases).
9. Bell's palsy (Paralysis of the nerve going to the face causing
facial droop). Does not sound like it in your case.
10. Here's one more really unlikely possibility: Since sensation
ultimately resides in the brain, the problem could be upstairs.
Migraine, epilepsy and brain tumor all come to mind, but each of these
would be exceptionally rare explanations for your problem.

I would advise you to see your doctor and have an examination of the
nerves of your face, nose, ears, throat and tongue if your symptoms
persist or worsen, or if your symptoms appear to be associated with
other unusual symptoms.?

Have you had chemotherapy or head/neck radiation or surgery in the
past several months? Ear surgery? Ear surgery can affect the nerves
that make you perceive taste.
?This metallic or salty taste may come from less saliva or the
chemotherapy treatments. Normal taste usually comes back a few months
after treatment.?

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) can cause a salty taste. ?As is
often the case, the body has ways (mechanisms) to protect itself from
the harmful effects of reflux and acid. For example, most reflux
occurs during the day when individuals are upright. In the upright
position, the refluxed liquid is more likely to flow back down into
the stomach due to the effect of gravity. In addition, while
individuals are awake, they repeatedly swallow, whether or not there
is reflux. Each swallow carries any refluxed liquid back into the
stomach. Finally, the salivary glands in the mouth produce saliva,
which contains bicarbonate. With each swallow, bicarbonate-containing
saliva travels down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the
small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus after gravity and
swallowing have removed most of the liquid.?

?What can be done to get rid of the taste?
It is possible that the taste is there to stay, and you have to learn
to live with it.   Adjust your diet to avoid foods that taste the
worst, such as ice cream, and eat more foods that don't:
Regarding the metallic taste, I can tell you that mine is still with
me (8 yrs post op)...  so, I've gotten used to it... it helps to drink
fluids... eat juicy stuff, like fruit... and, chew gum...

Tic tacs are an alternative to gum:
When I had the salty/metal/just plain yuck taste, I used tic tacs. I
keep them under my pillow, in the car, in my office. Before I went to
sleep, I put one way in the back of my mouth, between my cheek and jaw
line.  It's there in the morning and I has spearmint dreams all night.
I did the same during the day.
Gargling or drinking juices may help to rinse the taste out.
15 years post-op I still have taste problems... gargling with luke
warm salt water helps, as does drinking tomato juice or cranberry
Note: Please avoid too much sugary gum or candy; AN patients with
facial problems are at a much greater risk for developing dental
problems as well, and this will increase it further!?

The medication Elavil can cause a salty taste to the tongue and lips.

An illustration of a tongue and the location of the taste buds.

I suggest you get a check up with your doctor to determine if your
salty taste needs to be investigated further, of if it is a temporary

I hope this was the information you were seeking. If not, please
refrain from rating/closing this question until you have requested an
Answer Clarification. This will allow me to assist you further, if

Regards, Crabcakes

Search terms
Salty taste and lips or mouth
Taste disorders
Cause salty taste
rickybee-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for the info.  There are several possibilities here that I most
certainly follow up on.

Subject: Re: Constant Salty Taste
From: crabcakes-ga on 26 Apr 2005 13:34 PDT
Thank you Rickybee, for the 5 star rating. I wish you the best at
resolving this condition.
Sincerely, Crabcakes

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