Bad Taste In Mouth and Anxiety
Bad taste in mouth anxiety symptom description:
- You have a bad taste in your mouth.
- You have an unusual, bad, or awful taste in your mouth.
- You have a ‘blood-like’ taste in the mouth for no reason.
- You have an ammonia or bitter taste in your mouth.
- This bad taste is not related to something you’ve eaten or anything you’ve done recently.
- No matter what you do, this bad taste doesn’t seem to go away.
- This bad taste isn’t related to anything dental, but yet persists.
- Even after you brush your teeth or use mouthwash, the bad taste in your mouth returns.
- This bad taste can change from one type of unsavory taste to another.
This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may have a bad taste in the mouth once and a while and not that often, have it off and on, or have it all the time.
This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.
This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.
This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.
All of the above combinations and variations are common.
What causes the bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom?
Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety and anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, including this one, we recommend that all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms be discussed with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that your sensations and symptoms are solely stress related (including anxiety-caused stress), you can be confident that there isn't another medical reason for them. Generally, most doctors can easily tell the difference between stress- and anxiety-caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical conditions.
When this symptom is caused by stress and/or anxiety, there can be a number of reasons why a bad taste in the mouth can occur, including:
Stress response changes can affect taste - Behaving anxiously activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
Part of the stress response changes include slowing saliva production and heightening the body’s senses, including the sense of taste. The body does this so that we are more able to quickly detect a problem should one be present. These changes are beneficial when in real danger.
When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. This allows the body to return to normal functioning.
When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can cause the body to remain in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants. A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated (overly stressed) can exhibit similar sensations and symptoms to that of an active stress response. Having a bad taste in the mouth is an example of how the body can experience symptoms simply from being overly stressed.
A lack of saliva can cause harmful bacteria to flourish in the mouth – As mentioned above, the stress response suppresses saliva production. When the body becomes overly stressed – due to too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses, such as being overly anxious or from other sources of stress – this can cause a persistent lack of saliva, which can allow harmful bacteria to build up in the mouth. This build up of harmful bacteria can alter the flora in your mouth, which cause a bad taste in the mouth.
How the stress response affects the stomach and digestion – Another aspect of the stress response changes affect the stomach and digestion. For example, the stress response suppresses the stomach’s ability to digest food as well as that of the digestive tract. It does this so that all of the body resources can be made available for emergency action. These changes can be helpful when in real danger, but can cause problems when the stress response is activated too often.
When the body becomes overly stressed, we can experience a number of stomach and digestive problems, which can affect the taste in the mouth.
Stress adversely affects the nervous system – While beneficial when in real danger, the stress response impacts the nervous system the most. When the nervous system is adversely affected by too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses, it can cause a number of nerve and nervous system anomalies, including affecting the taste buds in the mouth.
Moreover, a stress-response hyperstimulated nervous system can behave erratically, which can cause the ‘misreporting’ of sensory information, such as taste. Many anxious people experience a bad taste in the mouth due to stress-response hyperstimulation and how that affects the body’s nervous system and sensory organs.
Persistently elevated stress can suppress the body’s immune system making the body more vulnerable to intruders - Sinus infections can cause bad, unusual, and odd tastes in the mouth.
Persistently elevated stress can cause an increase in Candida - which can impact the nasal passages and cause bad tastes in the mouth.
Any one of the above, or combination, can cause a bad taste in the mouth.
How to get rid of the bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom?
When this bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom is caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the active stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, the body returns to its normal functioning and this symptom should subside. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
When this bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom is caused by persistently elevated stress, such as that from too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses, it may take a lot more time for the body to recover and to the point where this symptom is eliminated.
Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered from its overly stressed state, this bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom will completely subside. Therefore, it needn’t be a cause for concern.
You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your body’s stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about this symptom. Remember, worrying activates the stress response. So worrying is counterproductive to stress reduction and recovery.
Sure, a bad taste in the mouth can be annoying, but again, when your body has recovered from the stress response and/or overly stressed state, the bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom will completely disappear.
For a more details about how to overcome problematic anxiety, including why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.