A burning tongue is a constant burning sensation in all or part of the tongue. There are two medical names, glossodynia and glossopyrosis. If there is also burning in other areas, it is called burning mouth syndrome. The patient may or may not have decreased or altered taste. It may be caused by a problem with the nerves going to the tongue or by a reduced amount of blood to the tongue.
The main symptom of burning mouth syndrome is a burning sensation involving the tongue, lips, gums, palate, throat or widespread areas of the whole mouth. Other symptoms may include:
A tingling or numb sensation in your mouth or on the tip of your tongue
A bitter or metallic taste
The main causes of burning mouth syndrome are many and complex. Possible causes include:
Dry mouth (xerostomia) – This condition can be related to use of certain medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, central nervous system depressants, lithium, diuretics and medications used to treat high blood pressure. It can also occur with aging or Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes both dry mouth and dry eyes.
Other oral conditions - Oral yeast infection (thrush) is a common cause of a burning mouth that may also occur with other causes, such as diabetes, denture use and certain medications. Geographic tongue, a condition that causes a dry mouth and a sore, patchy tongue also may be associated with burning mouth syndrome.
Psychological factors – Emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are often associated with burning mouth syndrome, as is an extreme fear of cancer.
Nutritional deficiencies – Being deficient in nutrients, such as iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12), may affect your oral tissues and cause a burning mouth.
Irritating dentures -Dentures may place stress on some of the muscles and tissues of your mouth. The materials used in dentures also may irritate the tissues in your mouth.
Nerve disturbance or damage (neuropathy) – Damage to nerves that control taste and pain in the tongue may also result in a burning mouth.
Allergies- The mouth burning may be due to allergies or reactions to foods, food flavorings, other food additives, fragrances, dyes or other substances.
Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease)-The sour- or bitter-tasting fluid that enters your mouth from your upper gastrointestinal tract may cause irritation and pain.
Certain medications- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure, may cause side effects that include a burning mouth.
Oral habits include often-unconscious activities, such as tongue thrusting and teeth grinding (bruxism), which can irritate your mouth.
Endocrine disorders- Your oral tissues may react to high blood sugar levels that occur with conditions such as diabetes and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Hormonal imbalances, such as those associated with menopause. Changes in hormone levels may affect the composition of your saliva.
Excessive irritation- Irritation of the oral tissues may result from excessive brushing of your tongue, overuse of mouthwashes or consuming too many acidic drinks.
As part of the diagnostic process, you may undergo some of the following tests:
Complete blood count (CBC)-This common blood test provides a count of each type of blood cell in a given volume of blood.
Other blood tests -As nutritional deficiencies are one cause of a burning mouth, doctor may collect blood samples to check blood levels of iron, zinc, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine and cobalamin. The doctor may also check your fasting blood sugar level.
Allergy tests- The doctor may suggest allergy testing to see if you may be allergic to certain foods, additives or even substances in dentures.
Oral swab culture or biopsy- If your doctor suspects oral thrush, he or she may take a small tissue sample (biopsy) or an oral swab culture to be examined in the laboratory.
The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) – Treating the cause of dry mouth, use of medications or some other cause may relieve burning mouth symptoms. In addition, drinking more fluids or taking a medication that promotes flow of saliva may help.
Other oral conditions – If the cause is oral thrush, treatment is with oral antifungal medications such as nystatin (Mycostatin) or fluconazole (Diflucan)
Psychological factors- For a burning mouth that may be caused by or associated with psychological factors such as anxiety and depression, the doctor may recommend antidepressant therapy or psychiatric therapy or both together.
Nutritional deficiencies- You may be able to correct nutritional deficiencies by taking supplements of B vitamins and minerals such as zinc and iron.
Irritating dentures – The dentist may be able to adjust your dentures so they are less irritating to your mouth. You may also improve symptoms by practicing good denture care, such as removing dentures at night and cleaning them properly.
Nerve disturbance or damage (neuropathy)- Your doctor may suggest medications that affect your nervous system and control pain, including benzodiazepines such as clonazepam (Klonopin), tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl), or anticonvulsants such as gabapentin (Neurontin).
Allergies- Avoiding foods that contain allergens that may irritate the tissues of your mouth may help.
Certain medications- If a medication you’re taking is causing a burning mouth, using a substitute medication, if possible, may help.
Oral habits - Tongue thrusting and teeth grinding (bruxism) can be helped with mouth guards, medications and relaxation techniques.
Home remedy for burning tongue is very effective. Below are given a few beneficial burning tongue cure home remedies:
Chewing a sugar free gum serves as an excellent burning tongue home remedy treatment.
Suck an ice cube for relieving pain.
Brush your teeth with baking soda rather than going in for toothpaste.
Eat Vitamin B and iron rich foods
Avoid hot and spicy foods. They may aggravate the condition.
A sample of the many homeopathic remedies for tongue disorders is given below. For recurring or persistent problems, an experienced homeopath can provide a more in-depth treatment to achieve lasting results.
Antimonium is recommended for a thick, milky and dirty-looking coating on the tongue, especially in children.
Take Bryonia for a thick, white coating. The mouth and tongue are dry and the person is very thirsty.
Take Hydrastis for a swollen tongue that feels scalded. Down the center of the tongue is a strip of yellow coating.
Natrum Mur is useful for geographical tongue that is blistered and burning. The affected areas are white or yellow and the rest of the tongue is red.
Use Taraxacum for geographical tongue that peels in the affected patches
A person who breaks out in burning, painful mouth sores, and also feels anxious and tired, is likely to benefit from this remedy. Hot drinks often ease the pain, and the person feels best when keeping warm
This remedy is often helpful when canker sores feel hot and sensitive. Acidic foods-especially citrus fruits-may be irritating. Sores may break out on the inside of the cheeks, on the gums, and on the tongue.
This remedy is often indicated when infants and small children have recurring canker sores. A child who needs this remedy may also have head-sweats during sleep, and be slow to teethe or learn to walk. Calcarea carbonica may help with canker sores in adults who are chilly, stout, and easily fatigued.
Hepar sulphuris calcareum
If a person develops painful mouth sores that become infected-with pus formation, extreme sensitivity, and aggravation from cold drinks-this remedy may be indicated.
Bleeding gums, a swollen coated tongue, and offensive breath are seen along with canker sores when this remedy is needed. The painful, burning sores feel worse at night, and salivation is profuse, with drooling during sleep. The person tends to sweat at night and is very sensitive to any change in temperature.
Pearly sores that erupt inside the mouth, especially on the gums or tongue, may respond to this remedy. The mouth feels dry, and the tongue may have a tingling feeling.
A person who needs this remedy may have swollen gums, a coated tongue, and bloody salivation. Irritability, impatience, and a general chilliness are often seen when this remedy is needed.
This remedy may be helpful for sores that are painful, red and inflamed, with burning pain that is worse from warm drinks and aggravated by heat of any kind. The mouth may have a bitter taste, and the gums can be swollen and throbbing.
The development of a burning sensation in the tongue is directly attributable to a chronic deficiency of gastric acid in the stomach, the flow of stomach acids can be triggered again by the use of several of these bitter herbs. Herbal remedies such as the juice of the dandelion, the herbal juice of the wormwood herb, the juice of the plantain, the juice of the black radish and the juice of the nettle can be very effective in ensuring the proper flow of gastric acids to correct the deficiency in stomach acids. These herbal juices can be taken at a dosage level of a tbsp. of any of the herbal juices thrice every day.
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