Tongue burning is a very unpleasant and painful symptom.
A burning tongue is the same sensation you feel when drinking a very hot drink.
This discomfort is also known as glossodynia or burning mouth syndrome (BMS).
In most cases, burning sensation is most pronounced at the tip of the tongue (glossopyrosis), on the lips and in the oral cavity (palate, gums).
The causes of burning mouth syndrome can be primary or secondary.
Primary burning mouth syndrome
If there are no clinical irregularities, it is called primary or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome.
Some research shows that primary burning mouth syndrome is related to problems with taste perception or sensory nerves of the central or peripheral nervous system.
Secondary burning mouth syndrome
Tongue burning can occur as a result of a disease; in this case, one speaks of a secondary burning mouth syndrome.
Typical diseases that can trigger the burning sensation on the tongue include:
dry mouth (xerostomia). Dry mouth can be provoked by certain medications; these include tricyclic antidepressants, lithium, diuretics and hypertensive drugs. Dry mouth can also be a sign of aging or caused by Sjögren’s syndrome (autoimmune disease that leads to dryness of the mouth and eyes).
Oral candidiasis (thrush). Candida is a common cause of burning in the mouth; this fungal infection can be caused by diabetes, dentures, certain medications (e.g. antibiotics) and mouthwash, among other things.
The burning sensation may occur at the tip of the tongue or at the edges of the tongue.
Symptoms of Candida infection also include white tongue coating.
Causes of tongue burning
The circadian rhythm of the complaints is subordinate.
In some patients, the symptoms are not present when getting up in the morning and then increase during the day. For others, the discomfort is constant throughout the day.
Burning mouth syndrome affects women seven times more often than men.
Typically, tongue burning does not begin until after the age of 40 or later, but in individual cases it can also affect younger people.
Causes of burn in the mouth include:
- Deficiencies. The lack of nutrients such as iron, zinc, folic acid (vitamin B-9), thiamine (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12) can affect tissue structures and cause burning in the mouth. Vitamin deficiency anemia may also develop.
- Dentures. Dentures and dentures can retreat the tissue in the mouth if they fit poorly, i.e. if the upper and lower parts do not match.
- Neurological diseases (neuropathy). Nerve damage and neuropathies can cause pain and a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue, as well as affect the sense of taste.
- Allergy. Burning in the mouth is sometimes caused by an allergic reaction to certain substances (foods, flavourings, food additives, colourings, etc.).
- Gastroesophageal reflux. The sour or bitter taste in the mouth, which comes from the upper gastrointestinal tract, can cause irritation and pain.
- Map tongue. The map tongue leads to dry mouth, pain and changes in the tongue. This condition can also be associated with burning mouth syndrome.
- Certain medications. ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure cause side effects, which include burning the mouth.
- Behaviors. Unconscious movements can cause irritation in the mouth, such as clenching or teeth or teeth grinding (bruxism).
- Endocrine disorders. The tissue structures in the mouth can respond to elevated blood sugar levels caused by diabetes or hypothyroidism.
- Hormonelle imbalance. The hormonal change, which takes place during menopause, can be the cause of the burning sensation in the mouth, because the hormone level has an influence on the composition of saliva.
- Overstimulation. Excessive use of oral hygiene products (toothbrush, mouthwash) or large amounts of acidic drinks can irritate the oral mucosa.
In patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome, certain personality and mood swings (especially anxiety and despression) were detected. This type of psychological disorder is typical for patients with chronic pain.
Thus, the disorder is caused by the chronic pain rather than the disease.
The treatment success achieved by relaxation techniques is therefore more associated with the improvement of pain control strategies than with the treatment of the complaints.
Similarly, there is a correlation between the usefulness of antidepressants and determine benzodiazepines and their analgesic and antispasmodic properties (and the possible effect of benzodiazepines on the taste-pain pathways).
Complications from burning the tongue
When burning the tongue, taste buds can be destroyed and the sense of taste reduced. However, this is only a temporary consequence, because the taste buds regenerate about every two weeks.
After eating pineapple, there may be an unpleasant sensation in the mouth, such as burning or tingling. These symptoms become noticeable immediately after eating fresh pineapple and usually disappear on their own.
Pineapple contains a group of enzymes called bromelain, which breaks down in meat, but also the protein contained in the mouth.
Bromelain eliminates the molecules on the cell surface and digests them.
Bromelain begins to break down the proteins when it comes into contact with the surface of the lips, tongue and cheeks.
The unpleasant effect can be reduced by eating only ripe pineapple.
A ripe pineapple can be recognized by its intense aroma and golden yellow color.
If the peel is still green, the pineapple should be stored upside down for a few days with the leaves facing down until it is ripe.
Often several causes are responsible for the tongue burning. Despite careful diagnostics, doctors often fail to find out the cause.
Signs and symptoms of burning tongues
The main symptom is the moderate to severe burning sensation in the mouth, which can last for months and even years.
Often the tongue burning begins in the late morning and reaches its peak in the evening; at night, the symptoms usually subside.
Some sufferers suffer constantly from the complaints, others rather phases.
- Burning sensation on tongue, lips, gums, palate, throat or mouth
- Tingling or numbness in the mouth or at the tip of the tongue
- Pain in the mouth that gets stronger during the day
- Strong thirst
- Painful mouth
- Loss of taste
- Altered taste sensation, e.g. bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
How is tongue burning diagnosed?
Burning mouth syndrome is diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms, excluding other problems such as infections, diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. If none of these diseases is present, the diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome is made.
Therapy for burning tongue
Treatment for glossodynia aims to relieve symptoms, relying on medications traditionally used for depression and chronic pain.
Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline/elavil), antipsychotics (chlordiazepoxide/librium), anticonvulsants (gabapentin/neurontin), analgesics, benzodiazepines (clonazepam/rivotril) and mucosal protection have provided great relief in some cases.
Capsaicin (natural active ingredient found in cayenne pepper) is also used to desensitize patients suffering from tongue burning.
Despite the successes these treatment approaches can achieve in certain cases, there is no treatment that always works for burning mouth syndrome. The therapy is geared to the individual needs of the individual patient.
Natural remedies for tongue burning
According to studies, if you have a psychological background for burning your tongue, psychological therapy can be an important alternative to conventional treatment.
There are various natural remedies that can provide relief from tongue and lip burning.
Here are some examples:
- Suck ice cubes or sips of cold water to relieve the burning pain.
- Chewing sugar-free chewing gum – this stimulates saliva production and prevents dry mouth.
- Regular visit to the dentist – this keeps the mouth and dentures under control.
- If you take medication, you should check together with the doctor whether dry mouth is one of the possible side effects.
- Regular meditation and yoga help reduce stress and anxiety, which can increase burning.
- Replace toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate if it has an irritating effect on the mouth and tongue.
- Make a tea with mint leaves; Drink it twice a day to relieve burning and irritation in the mouth.
- The tea can also be used as a mouthwash to relieve inflammation and sore throat. Mint has therapeutic properties that support the healing of the burning tongue; however, fresh mint leaves should never be chewed because they could damage the mouth.
- The leaves of the neem tree contain an antibacterial compound that can prevent bad breath and other dental problems. You can use a paste of crushed leaves to brush your teeth.
- Make a mixture of onions and a little garlic; Add water and gargle with it several times throughout the day to relieve the burning sensation in the mouth.
- The application of lavender oil brings quick help with tongue burning.
The same effect has glycerine applied to the tongue.
- Spicy or oily foods, alcohol and nicotine should be avoided.
- Alternative treatments, such as homeopathy and acupuncture, can help relieve pain and burning.
Dietary recommendations for burning in tongues
Long-term lifestyle optimization is the best way to combat burning mouth syndrome; Here are some practical tips:
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and dry mouth and increase salivation so that the intensity of symptoms can be reduced.
- Sauces and peppers are spicy and contain capsaicin, so it is better not to do so.
- Acidic foods such as citrus fruits should be avoided. In general, however, the amount of fresh fruit should not be reduced, because fruit improves the health of the teeth.
- Foods that refresh the mouth, such as fresh fruits and vegetable juices, relieve symptoms.
- If a thyroid disorder or a disease such as diabetes is found to be the cause of tongue burning, it is important to follow the established therapy.
- Eat foods that contain a lot of vitamin B12 and iron. Especially iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, spinach and broccoli are fundamental in the prevention of tongue burning.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, cinnamon and chocolate because they irritate the tongue and increase symptoms.