What It Means If Your Mouth Tastes Like Blood After Working Out

You're in the middle of an intense workout session and experience the taste of blood in your mouth. Given the intensity of your workout, you might think you've somehow bitten your tongue or cheek. However, after some investigation, you don't see any blood inside your mouth.

When working out, the taste of blood in your mouth isn't as typical as a pounding heart or burning muscles, but it does happen. Generally, the symptoms come from certain conditions, like periodontal disease, burning mouth syndrome, GERD, or irritated mucus membranes. It can also be your lungs causing the issue, as in the case of exercise-induced pulmonary edema. Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, told The Washington Post the blood taste in your mouth is "your body telling you that, 'You're probably doing a little bit more than what I'm ready to handle.'"

You can keep your worries at bay by learning the additional symptoms of these conditions and their treatments. Knowing when you should make an appointment with your provider is also helpful.

Periodontal disease

Tasting blood after an intense workout can leave you feeling a bit uneasy. But one of the first places to look is your oral health, such as old fillings and periodontal disease.

According to Mayo Clinic, gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and causes the gums to swell and feel irritated. It's even common for them to bleed and recede from the tooth. The name comes from the gingiva, the pink part around the base of your teeth that holds them in place. The condition is caused by poor oral health. Untreated gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, which is severe inflammation of the gums from a bacterial infection. In addition to bleeding and swollen gums, it causes loose teeth, bad breath, and changes in the spacing of the teeth (per Cleveland Clinic). 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 47% of adults over 30 have periodontal disease. However, you might have this issue and not even know it until it causes a bloody taste in your mouth. Additionally, research suggests that you may be more likely to notice that taste when you are exercising. A 2016 study in Diagnostics (Basel) demonstrated that people commonly experience thick saliva after working out due to the salivary mucin MUC5B. The thick saliva coating the teeth and gums, in conjunction with the oral issues, can intensify the taste of blood.

Burning mouth syndrome

You've gone out for your morning run and noticed your mouth is on fire. As you increase the intensity, a metallic taste takes the focus of your attention. A sudden onset of a metallic taste in your mouth and a strange burning of any area could be burning mouth syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition can come suddenly, and the burning can be focused on one area, like your tongue, or it could feel like your entire mouth has been scalded.

Burning mouth syndrome comes in two different types. Primary burning mouth syndrome doesn't come from a specific medical condition. It could be due to the nerves in the mouth being damaged somehow, explains the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The secondary form can have an underlying cause like depression, hormonal changes, or certain medications. It can be helpful to work with your healthcare provider to find out if you might have a specific cause.

Treatment for this condition is complex and depends on the person. Medications to control pain or provide more saliva in your mouth can help. It might also require you to switch out a prescription.


Do you suffer from GERD or acid reflux? Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when the contents of your stomach back up into the esophagus, where they shouldn't be. It comes with many symptoms, like burning pain in the chest (heartburn), difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and a metallic taste in your mouth. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, GERD typically happens when the sphincter in your lower esophagus relaxes or weakens, allowing stomach acid to come where it shouldn't.

Exercise can make your symptoms worse or better, depending on the type of exercise. Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia notes that specific exercises like crunches or high-impact exercises can trigger acid reflux. It advises avoiding trigger exercises like sprinting, weightlifting, and gymnastics. Instead, it says, try low-impact exercises like walking, yoga, and swimming.

You can also try different tactics to improve your GERD symptoms while you do high-impact workouts, like avoiding eating within a few hours of your routine. Surgical Consultants also suggests eating healthy before exercising and drinking water to stay hydrated and improve digestion. It also recommends taking your medication before working out.

Irritated mucus membranes

Your mouth, throat, and nose have a mucus membrane, also known as "mucosa." The mucous membrane is a soft tissue that lines canals and organs, per the Cleveland Clinic. It provides lubrication to the body, protecting specific areas. This membrane can get inflamed, leading to soreness and swelling. Individuals can also experience dry mouth and thick saliva, according to the NHS

Eating hot foods and alcoholic drinks can make it worse. Those who experience exercise-induced rhinitis can experience an irritation in the mucus membrane lining the nose. A sports medicine physician, Dr. Timothy Miller, told The Washington Post that irritated mucus membranes can "bleed just ever so slightly." This can contribute to your metallic-tasting mouth. 

Mucus membranes irritated by exercise benefit from rinsing your mouth and sucking on ice cubes. Also, try drinking water to keep hydrated. Treatment for mucositis (inflamed mucus membranes) includes gels and sprays. NHS also suggested using gels to keep your mouth moist and mouthwashes to numb the membranes of your mouth.

Pulmonary edema

Your teeth and mouth got a clean bill of health at your last dental visit. So, the bloody taste can't be coming from your teeth or gums. You also don't have another condition that might account for the metallic taste in your mouth. It might be time to look at your lungs. The words "pulmonary edema" can be a bit scary if you Google them, but exercised-induced pulmonary edema doesn't require a trip to the E.R. Miller explained to The Ohio State University (OSU) that working out hard, mainly when your body isn't used to it, can cause temporary pulmonary edema.

When your heart works harder than it's used to, fluid can accumulate in the lungs. This increase in pressure causes blood cells to leak out of the lungs and find their way into your mouth. Your tongue instantly processes the taste of blood. You might stop your workout wondering what the heck is going on. And that's precisely what you should do. Rest is the key to getting the fluid out of your lungs. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal also notes that avoiding overhydration and extreme exercise is helpful.

Healthy individuals just starting a workout should take it slow to ensure that pulmonary edema doesn't hit again. However, if it's more than just a one-off symptom, then it's worth getting it looked into by your doc. OSU points out it's essential for those with respiratory or cardiac issues or coughing up blood.