The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently lists about 13 symptoms that they say are related to coronavirus on their website. Six of those COVID-19 symptoms were added recently. But one possible red flag we've been hearing a lot about lately is missing from the catalog: a strange metallic taste in the mouth.
As one doctor, and someone who recovered from COVID-19, described on the UK site Pulse Today: "Five days into the illness, almost in the same order, the symptoms disappeared, leaving only an odd metallic taste in my mouth, nasal mucosal ulcers, and intense fatigue."
While the CDC doesn't mention this specific symptom on their site, a statement released by the American Academy of Otolaryngology said, "There is rapidly accumulating anecdotal evidence that anosmia with resultant dysgeusia are frequently reported symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic." Dysgeusia refers to a distorted sense of taste; anosmia is smell blindness. The academy also wrote that these symptoms, "should alert physicians to the possibility of COVID-19 infection and warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals."
Right now, experts can't say exactly why this happens or how common it is. But people with upper respiratory infections, including the common cold, also often report being left with a metallic taste in their mouths, says Robert Korn, MD, emergency medicine physician in New York.
He says the phenomenon may be related to another symptom that is on the CDC's list: the loss of taste and smell, which affects more than half of those who test positive for coronavirus, according to research from King's College London. Taste is closely connected to smell, Dr Korn says. "It's probable that that metallic taste is really just an altered taste on the way to losing the sensation completely," he explains.
Other conditions that can sometimes cause a metallic taste: pregnancy, indigestion, cancer treatment, antibiotics, and gum disease. If you're experiencing a metallic taste — especially along with other symptoms of coronavirus — the CDC recommends calling your medical provider to ask about next steps.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. It says you can protect yourself by washing your hands, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a tissue), avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and don't get too close to people who are coughing, sneezing or with a fever.