What Causes a Salty Taste in Mouth

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You may experience a salty taste when first waking up, eating, and drinking, or when having not consumed anything for several hours. A salty taste that lingers can be a type of taste disorder called dysgeusia.

A salty taste can have several causes, from dry mouth to infection to a head injury. While this may only be a minor inconvenience, it may also indicate a more serious condition that needs medical attention.

This article discusses some common causes of a salty taste in the mouth, treatments, and when to see a healthcare provider.

A young girl washing out her mouth after brushing her teeth

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What Are the Symptoms of Altered Taste?

If the salty flavor is always present, it can make it hard to eat or drink enough. The taste in your mouth may alter the taste of other things you consume and can decrease pleasure when swallowing. It also can lead to other issues, including:

  • Dehydration, which occurs if the salty flavor keeps you from drinking enough water and other fluids
  • Unintentional weight loss if you don't eat enough
  • Skipping or stopping medications that cause a salty taste (speak to a healthcare provider about the medicines)
  • Mouth sores or infections if you have had a dry mouth for a long time
  • Drinking more fluid than is recommended that may help remove the salty taste (especially critical for people with medical problems like heart or kidney failure)
  • Adding excess sugar or other flavors to try to mask the salty sensation

What Causes a Salty Taste in the Mouth?

There are many reasons you may experience a salty taste in your mouth. Many are relatively benign (harmless), but some reasons will require medical care. Some of the most common causes of a salty flavor lingering in your mouth include:

What Medications Can Cause a Salty Taste in the Mouth?

Over 350 medications have been linked to changes in taste perceptions. Many of them can leave you with a salty taste in the mouth. A few of the major categories of taste-altering drugs include:

  • Chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer often cause taste changes. These medications affect the mouth and digestive tract cells and cause food and drink to taste unpleasant or salty. Radiation therapy can also alter taste.
  • Diuretics, medications used to help reduce the fluid inside the body, can cause a dry mouth or a salty taste. Lasix (furosemide) and Diuril (chlorothiazide) are two common water pills.
  • Pain medications, both over-the-counter options and prescription opioids, can leave you with a dry (cotton) mouth or a salty taste.
  • Decongestants, like cold and flu medication, dry out your mouth and nose, causing a salty taste.

Many more categories of medications can cause taste changes. These side effects can start right away or develop over time. Speak with a healthcare provider if you notice a change in how things taste.

How to Treat Salty Taste in Mouth

Mild symptoms of a salty taste in the mouth might be managed with at-home treatments. Some recommendations to address the salty taste caused by dry mouth include:

  • Oral care (toothbrushing, flossing, mouth rising)
  • Avoiding dry, salty, and acidic foods
  • Not drinking alcohol
  • Not smoking and avoiding other tobacco products
  • Taking over-the-counter saliva substitutes
  • Chewing gum
  • Sucking on lozenges or hard candy
  • Drinking plenty of water, about eight to 12 glasses per day (8 ounces per glass)

The proper treatment for a salty taste in the mouth depends on what is causing the symptom. See a healthcare provider to discuss your abnormal taste and establish a treatment plan if in doubt.

If a medication is suspected or known to be causing the salty taste, a healthcare provider may prescribe an alternative option or recommend stopping the original medicines. Discuss any medication changes with your healthcare team before you stop, start, or change what you take.

If a medical condition causes a salty taste, treatment depends on the underlying cause. For example, if you treat the cause of your postnasal drip, the salty taste may disappear.

Are There Tests to Diagnose the Cause of Salty Taste in Mouth?

In many cases, you may not need special testing for changes in taste. Otherwise, you should find relief after discussing your symptoms with a healthcare provider, especially if you have mild to moderate symptoms. However, you may be referred to a specialist for taste-disorder testing.

Healthcare providers specializing in diagnosing taste disorders are often otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists, or ENTs). ENTs may use any or all of the following to help understand what is causing the salty taste:

  • A physical exam of your ear, nose, and throat areas, including teeth and mouth hygiene
  • Medical history and medication review
  • Taste testing to determine your ability to taste flavors like sweet, salty, bitter, and more
  • If needed, you may be referred to a dental provider as well

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If the salty taste in your mouth interferes with your eating, drinking, or quality of life, you should consult a healthcare provider. Small lifestyle recommendations may be recommended. At other times, you may need to see a specialist for a taste disorder diagnosis or to do more in-depth testing to determine the cause.

If you have a head injury or recent surgery, seek medical care immediately. A salty taste may indicate a CSF leak, leading to a serious infection or medical situation that needs immediate care.


There are many reasons you may experience a salty taste in your mouth. Common conditions like a dry mouth or a short-term infection can often cause it. If your symptoms are minor, you may find relief in home remedies. However, you should seek medical attention if the salty taste persists or you do not feel better within a few days.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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