Salty taste in mouth: What causes it?

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Salty taste in mouth: What causes it?

Question

I've had a salty taste in my mouth for several weeks. What causes this? What can I do about it?

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Answer

Taste changes are rarely a sign of a serious underlying problem. However, they are annoying and can impair your enjoyment of food. A persistent salty taste in the mouth can have many possible causes, including:

  • Dehydration. This may be due to inadequate fluid intake or excessive fluid loss. Review your diet. Excessive intake of alcohol or caffeine can cause fluid loss, resulting in dehydration, which can make saliva saltier.
  • Side effect of certain medications, such as anti-thyroid medications and chemotherapy drugs.
  • Salivary gland diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome or bacterial infection of the salivary glands (sialadenitis).
  • Post-nasal drainage, such as with a sinus infection (sinusitis) or allergies.

Rarely, a salty taste in the mouth is due to a nutritional deficiency, endocrine disorder or neurological disorder, such as epilepsy or migraine.

Treatment is directed at the underlying cause, if possible. For example, if a salty taste in the mouth is due to a certain medication, stopping or changing the medication may eliminate the problem. But do this only with your doctor's approval. If the cause of a salty taste is a bacterial infection, the salty taste may go away with treatment of the infection. Occasionally, taste changes resolve spontaneously.

A persistent salty taste in the mouth should be evaluated by a doctor or dentist.

Last Updated: 08/14/2006
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