- Oral Health
Reasons behind the Feeling of Taste of Blood in the Mouth but No Blood
Metallic taste of blood
Causes of metallic taste of blood in the mouth
It was my first week in Paris, in the summer of 2012; I had come to France on an exchange program, with the view to immersing myself in the French culture and improving my facility with the French language. That night, my host family had lamb with baked potatoes, tomato sauce and a baguette on the side for dinner; a classic French dinner for the novice that I was.
As I starred at the lamb on my plate, I could see strands of blood in it. Indeed, the sight of blood greatly diminished my appetite; but seeing as I was on foreign soil, and it would be extremely rude to reject food from one’s hosts, I was compelled to shove the food down my throat, occasionally wrapping it with lots of tomato sauce to mask the taste.
If you think that my Paris episode is nothing, you may be right but wait till you taste your own blood in your mouth. The taste of human blood is far worse and more metallic. Today, I’ll discuss why we sometimes feel the taste of blood in our mouth even when there’s no blood. I’ll also explore possible remedies for the condition. To start us off, let’s examine what human blood is and why it tastes the way it does in the mouth.
What is blood?
Human blood is a fluid in the body that contains red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma in addition to over four thousand (4000) other components. Blood is responsible for:
- Transporting oxygen and other nutrients to the cells that work together in the body to keep us alive.
- Eliminating waste products such as ammonia and carbon dioxide from the body.
- Maintaining a normal body temperature so that we are not too hot or too cold.
- Improving the mechanism that helps us to fight off diseases, the immune system.
It’s also important to note that the red color of the blood derives from red cells, which make up forty-fifty percent (40-50%) of the blood’s volume. It is the red cells in the blood that actually transport oxygen from the lungs to several cells and tissues within the body for energy and nourishment.
So that the red cells can transport oxygen, it uses a protein molecule that is rich in iron. This iron-rich protein molecule makes up ninety-five percent (95%) of the red cells, and is called hemoglobin. Lastly, seeing as almost half of the human blood is made up of red cells, and almost the whole of red cells are made up of iron-rich hemoglobin, we can now understand why blood has a strange metallic taste in the mouth. It’s from the iron, which is a metal.
Why you experience the taste of blood in the mouth, but no blood
Now let’s tackle the main question at hand, which is why do we experience the metallic taste of blood in our mouth, even when there’s no blood.
First, it can be due to gum disease. Gum disease refers to a condition where the gum becomes sore and swollen due to infections. Typically, during an infection, your gums bleed when you floss or brush your teeth. You may or may not see the blood but it is what causes you to taste blood in the mouth.
Another causal factor of tasting blood in the mouth is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, which means chemical treatment, refers to the use or combination of different drugs to kill cancer cells in the body. Other purposes of chemotherapy are: controlling the advancement of tumor when a cure is not possible; shrinking tumors prior to surgery; soothing symptoms of cancer, such as pain; and destroying smaller cancer cells which may resurface after a tumor has been removed.
Because chemotherapy involves the use of different drugs, a patient may experience side effects from particular drugs or a mixture thereof. One such side effect is a significant change in your taste buds and salivary glands, making you experience the metallic taste of blood in your mouth, even when you are not bleeding.
Taking over-the-counter medications
Taking over-the-counter medication can also cause you to experience the metallic taste of blood in your mouth. More often than not, we humans like to take drugs as supplements to our food. This is could be because we feel that we are not getting the required amounts of certain vital nutrients such as vitamins and iron. It’s important to mention that certain multivitamins contain heavy metals, such as zinc, chromium and copper. Therefore, taking too much of them will cause you to experience a metallic taste (like that of blood) in your mouth.
Finally, taste of blood in the mouth can be a result of hormonal changes in the body from pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body undergoes lots of hormonal changes to ensure the survival of you and the unborn child. An effect of such change is your taste buds tasting metallic being slightly altered, giving you a bloodlike taste in the mouth.
Treatments for taste of blood in the mouth
Regarding treatments for bloodlike taste in the mouth, you may want to treat the underlying causes. Not a lot can be done about factors such as chemotherapy and pregnancy, unless, of course, you don’t get cancer or become pregnant. However, you can take medications to tackle gum infections. You could also reduce the amount of multivitamin supplements you take if it causes you to have a blood or metallic taste in your mouth.