Why Do I Taste Blood When I Run? Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

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Experiencing a blood-like taste while running is a surprisingly common phenomenon among runners.

This peculiar sensation, while alarming, often doesn’t indicate a serious health issue. But it’s important to understand the underlying causes to ensure they are not symptomatic of significant medical concerns.

In this article, we will explore the most prevalent reasons behind this experience during running. Additionally, we’ll discuss effective treatments and preventative measures to help runners manage and possibly avoid this unusual taste sensation.

Is It Common to Have Metallic or Blood Taste in Your Mouth?

It’s more common than you think for runners to experience a bloody or metallic taste in their mouth while running, or after their run. If it’s happened to you, you’re not alone!

Why Do I Taste Blood When I Run?

That metallic taste comes from iron in your blood. So, when you taste blood, you’re likely bleeding somewhere in the mouth or throat, even if you don’t see or feel it.

Here are some of the most common reasons for getting that blood taste while running or exercising.

Increased Blood Pressure

This is the most common cause of tasting blood when you run. It’s natural for your blood pressure to rise when you exercise, and this can cause some of the tiny blood vessels in the lungs to burst.

Blood from the lungs can end up in the windpipe, throat, or mouth, giving you that blood taste as you run. Although this might sound serious, it’s perfectly normal and shouldn’t be a concern.

Salivary Stones – A Hidden Culprit

Just like you can get kidney stones, you can also get salivary stones. These form in the salivary glands—the glands in your mouth that make saliva—and can cause a blockage in the salivary ducts, the opening where saliva is released.

That means the salivary glands themselves can’t do their job correctly and produce saliva, which can lead to infection.

Infection in the mouth may produce a foul taste, especially when you’re working out and saliva production is increased. If you have pain in your mouth or suspect a toothache, it could be an infected salivary gland.

Poor Oral Health

Neglecting oral health can have numerous negative consequences, including inflammation, gum disease, and infection. All of these can lead to a strange taste in the mouth.

You may notice a foul taste or odor when you’re not exercising, but it becomes more noticeable during physical activity thanks to increased blood flow in the mouth.

Running in Cold, Dry Environments or at High Altitudes

If you’re not used to running in cold, dry conditions, you might experience this taste of blood when exposed to cold air.

When you inhale, the cold air can irritate the airway and do exactly the same thing as high blood pressure—cause tiny blood vessels to burst and let blood into the digestive tract.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is much more common than people realize. If you often go running soon after eating and notice the taste of blood, acid reflux could be to blame.

Technically, you’re not tasting blood in this case. You are tasting the acid coming up into your esophagus.

Medications and Supplements

Some medications—antibiotics, antidepressants, diabetes meds, and blood pressure meds—may have a strange side effect that causes a blood-like taste in the mouth. Check your meds to see if they list this as a side effect.

If you’re taking supplements, those high in iron can also cause this unusual taste in the mouth.

Medical Conditions

If you experience the taste of blood in your mouth often, it’s worth getting checked out by your doctor to rule out medical conditions. If you can’t pinpoint a potential reason off of this list, we recommend making an appointment with your medical professional.

When to Worry About Tasting Blood While Running

It’s not usually something to worry about, but some cases might require more detailed examination to rule out more serious conditions. See a doctor right away if the taste comes with chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea.

It’s also a good idea to monitor when this taste arises. If it’s always after a run, then chances are high that the run has something to do with it. If it happens outside of the run during the day, then seeing your doctor would be a good idea.

How to Treat the Taste of Blood in Your Mouth

Nobody wants to feel like they may be bleeding during their run! If the taste gets bad, here’s what you can do on-the-go to try and lessen it.

Rinse Your Mouth

Rinse your mouth out with water. It takes just a second or two, and it will help get rid of the taste but also make sure there’s no large amount of blood. It’ll rinse away small amounts of blood and should remove the taste.

Slow Down or Take a Break

If your heart’s beating like crazy, you might want to slow down and allow your heart rate to come down. This can ease up some strain on your respiratory system, preventing those little blood vessels from bursting and causing the taste.

Breathing Techniques

Practice breathing through your nose. This can make a more significant difference than you realize, Doing this warms the air entering your respiratory tract, eliminating potentially negative effects from the cold.

Stay Hydrated

Start to hydrate before you even leave the house. Continue to stay hydrated throughout your run, which will keep your mouth and throat lubricated and reduce irritation.

Monitor Air Quality

Poor air quality can irritate your respiratory tract and lead to bleeding. We highly recommend that if you’re prone to allergies, you check the air quality index before you go out and run in it.

Investing in a treadmill can improve air quality and allow you to keep exercising despite potentially dangerous pollution levels outdoors.

Tips to Prevent Tasting Blood When Running

Nobody wants to taste blood when they run. Here are some things you can do to reduce the chances of tasting that metallic taste on your next run.

Wear a Buff or Mask

If you run in cold climates, covering up with a buff or a mask can protect your airway from a blast of cold air. Wearing something over your mouth and nose can help to warm up the air as it comes in, reducing your chance of tasting blood due to damaged blood vessels.

Try Breathing Through Your Nose

As mentioned in the treatments above, do your best to inhale through your nose rather than your mouth. This can reduce the irritation to your throat, lowering the chance of burst blood vessels.

If You Have Dry Sinuses, Use a Nasal Spray

If dry, irritated sinuses are a part of your daily life, invest in nasal spray. It’ll help keep those nasal passages moist and prevent cracks that could bleed and drip into the throat. It can also help reduce irritation from cold air.

Moderate Your Intensity

Tasting blood might be an indication that you’ve pushed yourself too hard. Ease up on the intensity and see if it reduces the blood taste. Make sure you’re not going too hard for your ability level—and only increase by 10%, no more, every week.

Chew Gum

Chewing gum increases saliva production. This extra moisture in the mouth can dilute any hints of blood and the flavor can reduce the taste of blood in your mouth and replace it with a minty fresh or fruity flavor.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.