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Turning Down the Heat on Burning Mouth Syndrome

Armen Hareyan's picture

Burning Mouth Syndrome

A burning sensation that seems to creep into your tongue as the day progresses could be burning mouth syndrome. It can be a complex and frustrating condition to diagnose and treat. But with persistence and help from your doctor, symptoms usually can be improved, according to the August issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Burning mouth syndrome may affect your tongue, lips, gums, palate or throat. Some people experience tingling, numbness, a sore mouth or a metallic, bitter taste. It can last a few weeks or for years. Despite the symptoms, there are no abnormalities in your mouth. It's not contagious or infectious. It can affect anyone, but is more common in people older than 60.

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It's unusual for burning mouth syndrome to be attributed to just one cause. Typically, many factors play a role. It may be linked to several medical conditions including hormonal imbalances, gastric reflux, Sjogren's syndrome, underactive thyroid, oral yeast infection and dry mouth. Other possible contributors include medications, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, allergies to foods or food additives, oral irritation or psychological factors such as stress, depression or anxiety.

There are ways to manage discomfort and pain. Your doctor may direct you to change medications if they dry out the mouth. Humidifying your home, drinking more water and using medication to stimulate saliva flow might help.

Treatment for an underactive thyroid may be initiated. If underlying medical conditions are a factor, treatment of the condition may help symptoms. Nutrient deficiencies can be addressed with supplements. Allergy triggers can be determined and avoided. If symptoms persist, psychiatric therapy or cognitive and behavioral therapy may be helpful. Some drugs used to treat psychiatric conditions also work well in managing pain, including certain antidepressants and anticonvulsants.