Perhaps you’ve read that a stroke can cause a metal taste in the mouth, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that a TIA can leave a metal taste in your mouth, does it?

A TIA (transient ischemic attack) is a temporary stroke. Both a TIA and an ischemic stroke occur when a blood clot forms in a blood vessel in the brain.

The only difference between a TIA and a stroke is that the former dissolves, usually in just minutes, and the person’s symptoms disappear as quickly as they came on.

When people experience one of these “mini-strokes,” as they’re sometimes referred to, they will have a sudden-onset of one or more of the following symptoms:

• Paralysis on one side of the body

• One-sided numbness, tingling, heaviness and/or clumsiness

• The one-sided symptoms can occur to the face (e.g., one side of the mouth droops)

• Dizziness

• Vision problems: double, blurred, dimmed or what seems like a shade being pulled over one eye

• Loss of bowel or bladder control

• Unconsciousness is possible.

• Slurred speech

• Trouble forming words

• Trouble swallowing

• Difficulty understanding speech

• Cognitive impairment

If you’ve checked the TIA symptom lists from other reputable sites, you already know that “phantom metal taste” does not show up.

But does that mean it’s impossible for a transient ischemic attack to result in a brief perception of tasting metal?

“It is very unlikely that an isolated metallic taste would be associated with a TIA or stroke,” says Atif Zafar, MD, medical director of St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and former director of the stroke program at University of New Mexico Hospital.

Dr. Zafar explains, “An insult to the pons or insula can be associated with altered taste, but these areas typically cause other symptoms like vision, balance or cognitive problems, along with altered taste or smell.

“Metallic tastes or a burning rubber smell can be associated with auras in patients with epilepsy.

“I have had various patients report smell or taste alteration before they went on to have a convulsive seizure.”

More on Stroke and Change in Taste

The permanent damage from a stroke can leave the patient with ongoing taste-related issues.

A TIA is actually a forerunner of a stroke; one-third of stroke victims had a previous transient ischemic attack.


And here’s a fair speculation: If a person suffers the sudden-onset symptoms of a TIA — such as suddenly one side of their face goes heavy and limp — and at that same time there’s a mechanism causing a metallic taste in their mouth — they may not be aware of this phantom taste.

Imagine that suddenly you can’t form words and one side of your face is paralyzed.

You’ll be focused (and terrified) over the paralysis and inability to form language — never mind how things inside your mouth taste.

However, a TIA can last a full hour, even a few hours, and during this time, it’s much easier to also then begin noticing that there’s an odd taste in the mouth.

Though “sudden-onset metallic taste” does not make the symptom lists for many major medical organizations, there is a very intriguing TIA symptom discription on the Mt. Sinai site.

The site says, “The symptoms of TIA are the same as the symptoms of a stroke, and include:”

And one of the bullet points is as follows:
Changes in the senses (such as hearing, vision, taste, and touch).

So there you have it: At a minimum, a TIA can cause “changes” in “taste.”

It’s logical to conclude that there’ve been patients who’ve described this taste as being like metal — but there’s no objective way to confirm this.

Steven Park, MD, an ear, nose and throat physician, explains every possible cause of a metal taste in the mouth.

Dr. Zafar is author of the book, “Why Doctors Need to Be Leaders.” His interests include vascular and endovascular neurology, and the neurosciences.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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