Oral Side Effects of Medications
Mouth Sores (Ulcers)
A mouth ulcer refers to an open (ulcerated) sore that occurs inside the mouth or on the tongue. Mouth ulcers are often compared to "craters" because they have a hole in the middle. This hole is actually a break in the moist tissue (mucous membrane) that lines the mouth. Mouth sores may also be called canker sores.
Chemotherapy drugs that cause mucositis can cause mouth sores to develop. Such drugs include:
- alemtuzumab (Campath)
- bleomycin (Blenoxane)
- capecitabine (Xeloda)
- cetuximab (Erbitux)
- docetaxel (Taxotere)
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- epirubicin (Ellence)
- erlotinib (Tarceva)
- fluorouracil (5-FU)
- methotrexate (Rheumatrex)
- sunitinib (Sutent)
- vincristine (Oncovin)
Other medicines that have been linked to the development of mouth sores include:
- Gold used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
Taste Changes, Including Metallic Taste
Sometimes, a medication can alter your sense of taste. A change in the body's ability to sense tastes is called dysgeusia. Some drugs can make food taste different, or they can cause a metallic, salty, or bitter taste in your mouth. Taste changes are especially common among elderly patients who take multiple medications.
Usually the taste changes are temporary and go away when you stop taking the medicine.
Chemotherapy drugs, including methotrexate and doxorubicin, are a common cause of taste changes.
Many other medicines have been linked to taste changes. They include:
Allergy (antihistamine) medicines
- levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- amphotericin B
Blood pressure medications
- captopril, an ACE inhibitor
- diltiazem, a calcium channel blocker
- enalapril, an ACE inhibitor
Corticosteroids (used to treat inflammation)
- dexamethasone (DMSO)
- ethacrynic acid
Iron-deficiency anemia medications
- iron sorbitex (given by injection)
Parkinson's disease medications
Rheumatoid arthritis treatments
Transplant rejection drugs
Smoking cessation products
Long-term use of sweetened medications can lead to tooth decay. Sugar is an added ingredient in many types of drug products, from vitamins and cough drops to antacids and syrup-based medications. Rinse your mouth out after using such products, or ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a sugar-free alternative.