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Burning Tongue

Intense burning sensation on the tongue and tip of the tongue indicates 'burning tongue syndrome'. Generally, 'supertasters' tend to develop this syndrome. The causes, symptoms, treatment, and home remedies of this syndrome have been provided in the following article.
HolisticZine Staff
The condition 'burning tongue syndrome' is also referred to as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), glossodynia, stomatodynia, etc. The painful sensation may also be experienced in other parts of the mouth like lips, gums, inside the cheeks, and roof of the mouth. It is most commonly found in middle-aged people.

Causes
BMS is generally categorized into primary and secondary. However, the exact cause cannot be identified, in many cases. Research suggests that primary BMS might develop due to damage caused to the nerves that control taste and pain. Secondary BMS can be triggered by the underlying health problems. They are:
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Oral thrush
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Hormonal changes during menopause
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Side effects of medicines
  • Food allergy
  • Ill-fitted dentures
  • Nerve damage
  • Oral habits like teeth grinding
  • Excessive irritation in mouth due to over-brushing of the tongue or overuse of mouthwash.
Symptoms
The symptoms of BMS follow typical patterns, that might vary from case to case. Some individuals may experience the burning sensation and other symptoms throughout the day, but the symptoms usually subside at night. Others may complain of continuous pain for days altogether. Listed are the symptoms that may accompany BMS:
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore tongue
  • Numb feeling at the tip of the tongue
  • Increase in thirst
  • Loss of taste
  • Metallic taste in mouth
This syndrome can be acute or chronic. In acute cases, the individual may be affected for few weeks. However, the symptoms may recur after regular intervals. While, in chronic cases, the individual may be affected for several months or years.

Treatment
It is advisable to consult a physician, as soon as the symptoms are visible. If the cause is identifiable, then the individual is treated accordingly. In such cases, the syndrome may not recur. Thus, BMS caused due to depression, can be treated by antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. Oral thrush can be treated with suitable medications. Ill-fitted dentures can be amended as per requirement.

It is a challenge to treat BMS, when the actual cause cannot be ascertained. The physician would prescribe specific types of mouthwash and saliva replacement products to reduce the burning sensation. Since nutritional deficiency could be the possible cause, the physician may recommend vitamin B supplements. Capsaicin topical ointment may be recommended, as it contains a natural component that has a numbing effect and reduces pain.

Home Remedies
There are some home remedies, which can provide temporary relief from the burning sensation. They are as follows:

Remedy #1: A small piece of ice could be kept in the mouth, if the tongue and lips are burning. This would soothe the burning sensation.

Remedy #2: Lavender oil can be applied on the sore tongue before going to bed daily. It works as an antiseptic, thereby reducing the burning sensation and improving the blood flow to the tongue.

Remedy #3: Glycerin is another effective remedy that can ease the pain. It has a cooling sensation and relieves the individual from the other symptoms as well.

Remedy #4: It is recommended to increase the water intake. This would prevent dry mouth and simultaneously soothe the burning sensation.

Remedy #5: Sugar-free chewing gums have been observed to be highly beneficial in this condition. These gums keep the tongue moist and decrease pain.

Remedy #6: Nutritious food is the key to cure this problem. Food rich in vitamin B such as potato, banana, tuna, liver, etc., should be included in the diet. Iron-rich foods like spinach, parsley, broccoli, etc., are also recommended. Drinking fresh fruit juice and vegetable juice on a daily basis would also help, as they have high nutritional value.

Coping up with BMS is a challenging task, however, constant efforts to ensure that the condition does not aggravate would be beneficial. Spicy food, chocolates, sweets, alcohol, and smoking need to be refrained from, as they tend to worsen the syndrome. Relaxation activities like yoga, meditation, or some hobbies would help you relax.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.