Burning Tongue: Causes & Symptoms

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Burning tongue is a syndrome characterized by a continuous burning sensation in the tongue and mouth. The pain may be acute or can exist for several days. However, the lining of the mouth appears clinically normal. It is also known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), scalding mouth syndrome, glossodynia, oral galvanism, stomatodynia, and stomatopyrosis. Dr.Rogers, the professor of dermatology at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, says that it affects women (postmenopausal women) more frequently than men, especially in their middle ages. This seems to be a common problem seen all over the world.

If you are suffering from burning tongue then you may find the pain spreading to the tongue, lips, the inner part of the cheeks and to almost all areas of the mouth. This may be caused due to various types of nutritional deficiencies, but most often, the cause of this syndrome is unknown. The symptoms are a burning sensation all over the mouth, dryness, and sourness in the mouth, an increase in thirst, loss of taste, and other eating or oral related conditions.

Causes of Burning Tongue Syndrome

According to Mayoclinic, burning tongue syndrome may occur due to the following:

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  • Yeast infection in the mouth
  • Medication
  • A nutritional deficiency (e.g. vitamin B12, zinc, iron, niacin, etc)
  • Intake of spicy food
  • Hormonal imbalance during menopause
  • Allergies
  • Reflux of stomach acid
  • Nerve damage
  • Diabetes
  • Blood abnormalities like anemia
  • Common skin rash in the mouth called lichen planus
  • Dental disease
  • Tobacco use
  • Bad oral habits like an overuse of mouthwashes and over brushing of the tongue
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Consumption of very hot food
  • Upper respiratory tract infections

It may also be related to the production of toxic free radicals released during stressful conditions. Pain often exists throughout the day, but not during the night. In severe cases, a dentist may prescribe a steroid, such as prednisone.

Symptoms of Burning Tongue Syndrome

As outlined by Dr. Miriam Grushka, from the William Osler health center in Connecticut, the following symptoms are attributed  to this disorder:

  • Burning sensation of the whole mouth
  • Sourness and dryness of the mouth
  • Numbness on the tip of the tongue
  • Increase in thirst
  • Difficulty eating
  • Metallic or bitter taste
  • Complete loss of taste
  • Anxiety and depression
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