May 24, 2024

This could be the reason

A persistent sour taste in the mouth is not only unpleasant, but can also indicate illness. The cause can often be found in the gastrointestinal tract.

The most important things at a glance


Is the food still good or has it already spoiled? When it comes to this question, people can usually rely on their sense of taste. For example, with milk: if it smells and tastes sour, it is no longer fresh. A sour taste also indicates fermentation of immature foods or fruits. In addition, taste has another function: pleasure.

However, if a person almost always feels an unpleasant sour taste in the mouth without having eaten or drank anything acidic before, there may be an underlying cause.

Sour taste in the mouth due to reflux

A common cause of a sour taste in the mouth is the passage of stomach juice into the esophagus. Experts talk about reflux. If the problem occurs often, it is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Gastric juice is acidic because it contains stomach acid. And this is a good thing: the aggressive acid not only enhances digestion, but also kills many pathogens from food. However, if acidic stomach juice continues to flow where it doesn't actually belong — into the esophagus — it can lead to long-term problems.

Normally, the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach ensures that stomach juice does not enter the esophagus. The fact that this happens every now and then, for example after a lavish meal, is not usually a problem. However, in some people, the sphincter does not work properly and/or the body produces too much stomach acid, so that the acidic fluid repeatedly rises into the esophagus, mouth, and throat, causing irritation.

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Typical symptoms of reflux occur mainly after eating or while lying down. These include, in particular, heartburn and frequent belching. But a foul or sour taste in the mouth can also be a sign.

Other possible symptoms of reflux disease include a feeling of fullness, difficulty swallowing, or a burning sensation in the throat. The respiratory system can also be affected, which can be seen by hoarseness and coughing. You can learn more about reflux disease here.

Reflux disease is usually treated with medications that block acid production in the stomach or bind stomach acid. In addition, a change in lifestyle can be beneficial, for example for those affected

  • It is better to eat several small meals rather than a few large meals.
  • Eat certain foods and drinks only in moderation, such as coffee, alcohol, or fatty or spicy foods.
  • stop smoking.
  • Losing excess weight.
  • Incorporate relaxation into your daily life.
  • Sleeping with the upper body elevated.
  • Don't eat too late.

Sour taste in the mouth: what could it be?

If it tastes sour in your mouth, there are many other possible causes besides stomach problems.

Some people perceive certain flavors differently. For example, they have an inexplicable metallic, bitter or sour taste in their mouth. Or they view sweet-tasting foods as bitter. Experts refer to a pathological change in the sense of taste as dysgeusia.

Whether sour, sweet, salty, bitter or even metallic: the causes of unpleasant taste are diverse. These include, for example:

Sour taste in the mouth: When should you visit a doctor?

A temporary sour taste is usually not a cause for concern. However, if it continues for a longer period, those affected should seek medical advice. The first point of contact could be your family doctor's office.

During the conversation, the doctor will want to know, for example,

  • How long does a sour taste in the mouth last?
  • Whether the person has other symptoms (such as heartburn, burping),
  • Whether the person is taking medication, and if so, which medication and/or
  • Whether the sour taste becomes more severe in certain situations (eg after eating).

Depending on the possible cause of the sour taste in the mouth, the doctor will arrange further examinations. If a stomach cause is suspected, gastroscopy, for example, may be helpful.