Bad taste in my mouth?
January 6, 2011 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Bad taste in my mouth?

I get this weird, foul taste in my mouth maybe once a week or so and I can't figure out what it is. It is always fleeting, sometimes happens seemingly randomly, but I often notice it right as I take a drink of water. I was convinced that it meant I had a terrible cavity, but the dentist checked me out this week and said there's nothing wrong anywhere in my mouth.

I have a deviated septum and am usually a little sniffly. Two years ago, I complained to the same dentist that I was getting a strange metallic taste on my tongue. He never found anything then, either.

I also have some undefined neurological weirdness going on, so there's a possibility that this is just a "taste hallucination." But I wanted some advice on other things it could be before I dismiss it.

Any ideas, Metafilter?
posted by sunnichka to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That happens to me with post-nasal drip, although the timing is different. For me, it's generally 'I have a cold, and as part of this everything I swallow leaves me tasting bitter blech" rather than an intermittent thing, but once in a while there's been the intermittentness too.

Anyway, that does jive with both the taste right after drinking water, and with the deviated septum/sniffles, and was the first thing I thought of at 'bad taste in mouth'.
posted by Lady Li at 9:14 PM on January 6, 2011

Best answer: Have you been doing any New Years dieting? A symptom of Ketosis is a metallic taste in the mouth.
posted by duddes02 at 9:17 PM on January 6, 2011

Any chance you've been eating pine nuts? Doesn't quite match your description in terms of the timing, but worth considering.
posted by Maximian at 9:17 PM on January 6, 2011

Have you ever had tonsilitis or tonsil troubles in general? A foul taste in the mouth can be caused by tonsil stones.
posted by telegraph at 9:32 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Yea, I was going to also say tonsilstones. I have noticed the same thing myself, and sure enough, if I shine a light on my throat, I can see the little white suckers hanging out back there. (ugh!)
posted by johnstein at 9:50 PM on January 6, 2011

Nthing tonsil stones. Those are nasty little buggers. Do you have any small white spots on your tonsils? I get them frequently so have added a tonsil check to my brush/floss routine. They come off easily with a q-tip. Gross.
posted by apricot at 9:54 PM on January 6, 2011

acid reflux?
posted by the_blizz at 10:02 PM on January 6, 2011

I'm glad you're able to remove the tonsil stones with a Q-tip, apricot, because I've tried that—I even got those really long Q-tips from the pharmacy, but even that added bit of leverage didn't help. Plus the long Q-tips were murder on my gag reflex; a little topical anesthetic helped, but it was still too difficult (I gave up after a half hour of trying, one night). I finally found success with using a Water-Pik—providing I point it in just the right location, it dislodges the stone quite easily.

I read somewhere that grapefruit seed oil is supposed to prevent tonsil stones, along with avoiding dairy products. Haven't tried to eliminate the latter, but I do gargle with a diluted solution of the former, and anecdotally at least, haven't had as many tonsil stones. YMMV, and all that...
posted by kentk at 11:32 PM on January 6, 2011

I find that get a weird taste in my mouth if I haven't flossed in a couple of days. Also, nthing tonsil stones, those are some yucky little buggers.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2011

Can you define the weird taste? (....Is it metalic? Fishy? Bitter? Vaguely like poo?)

Some prescription drugs can cause weird taste in your mouth, although I think that's more commonly a constant-state kind of thing. But knowing more about what the taste is would help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on January 7, 2011

Okay, now this one's awfully random: if I get a little piece of food stuck between my teeth that somehow evades floss (or, um, if I forget to floss, NOT THAT I'D EVER DO THAT), when it is finally dislodged, it smells AWFUL. Oddly the closest smell I can compare it to is tea tree oil... they share a certain characteristic (acridness? I dunno). Anyway... if it's tea tree-ish, it could be an errant food-chunk fermenting up in your grill.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2011

I vote tonsil stones--AskMe was the first place I ever heard of them, and it turns out I'm very susceptible. I use an eye dropper to get back there and suck them out. Sometimes I add a little squirt of hydrogen peroxide.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:58 AM on January 7, 2011

Here is a column that summarizes a lot of the common causes of a bad taste in the mouth, sometimes called dysgeusia. I know people who get it occasionally due to recurring minor sinus infections.

But continuing with my bad habit of coming up with the highly improbable in these kinds of AskMes, the first things I thought of with the neurological weirdness and the sniffly nose were seizure activity or a slow cerebrospinal fluid leak. I am not a doctor, just someone who reads too many articles like this one about a woman whose long-term runny nose turned out to be an unlikely CSF leak. If you have a neurologist after that hospital episode last year, I would mention the bad taste on the off chance that it's somehow connected.
posted by hat at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2011

Best answer: When I was younger (early 20s) I would sometimes experience an absurdly intense and unpleasant taste and/or smell (it was both, and neither) - sort of on the back of my tongue and up in my sinuses, but affecting all of my cognition and sensation in a way that a conventional aftertaste does not. It was a cross between home-brewing with hops, a burnt old pencil eraser, and that ozone smell on asphalt roads after a lightning storm (it was very specific, always the same, and not exactly like anything I've ever smelled in real life). The volume was turned up to 11... I couldn't eat, couldn't make it go away by ingesting anything or burning incense or gargling mouthwash, and if it happened when I was asleep (usually just before I would have woken up naturally) it woke me up and kept me up. Nobody else smelled anything or tasted anything kissing me, flossing and neti pots changed nothing. In minutes or hours it would just fade out, but sometimes it happened multiple times in a short period.

Turned out I was having seizures. I had been having other types of seizures for a couple of years, mostly little 'zaps' like a flickering CRT screen. Sometimes these would cluster in the hours before a 'taste/smell' seizure hit. They felt awesome but I was a literal spaz and I thought it might be bad if they hit me particularly hard while driving or riding a bike, so I went to the doctor. After a bunch of tests the exact nature of my seizures remained idiopathic but anticonvulsant medications worked. When I stopped taking them a couple of years later, the seizures never returned. I'm guessing it was just a combination of weird wiring and my age - either that, my friends tell me, or The Big One is building up.
posted by foobario at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: duddes02: Holy crap, I think you've explained that metallic taste I had two years ago. I wasn't intentionally dieting then, but it was immediately after the recession hit, I'd lost my job, and so I was on the, um, "poverty diet." It's never returned since those few months, either.

Tonsil stone nth-ers: I am gonna buy a flashlight today and investigate immediately.

Pine nuts: nope!

Post-nasal drip: You know, I don't think that's it. I get the weird taste even when I'm not sniffly.

The CSF leak: Oh, THANKS, glad to have another ridiculous nightmare scenario to keep me up at night!!! I don't have a continuous post-nasal drip, though, so luckily I will cross that one off my list of Worst Things Ever That I Could Totally Have And Probably Do Have :D

And foobario: Seizures? It's a good possibility. Especially the first time the foul taste hit me--it was so intense that I spit out water, feeling like what I was drinking was literally full of shit. And then the taste receded after a few moments, without leaving any aftertaste.

I already experience a lot of what I like to call "visual noise." Seeing movement when things are actually stationary, little colored circles that pop up in my vision for a moment, afterimages, colors becoming suddenly more vivid, other little things like that.

3 different neurologists have told me that there's no way I'm having seizures because nothing shows up on an EEG, though, so who knows.

If I don't find any tonsil stones, I'm going to ignore these sudden foul tastes as a harmless neurological quirk. :-)

Thanks for all the good advice! AskMetafilter is such a wonderful resource.
posted by sunnichka at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: IT'S TONSIL STONES! DISGUSTING! (They were so deep in my tonsil crevices that it was really hard to even find them. Thanks for all the help. Also I still suspect that I do occasionally have taste/smell hallucinations as well.)
posted by sunnichka at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2011

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