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Burning mouth syndrome

Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome

A person with burning mouth syndrome feels a hot or burning sensation on the tongue, lips or the mouth. Burning mouth syndrome is also referred to as BMS, glossodynia, glossopyrosis, stomodynia and oral dysaesthesia.

The sensation can be felt all the time or at intervals and is felt despite not eating or drinking anything hot.

Burning mouth syndrome may be felt at the same time as other symptoms, such as a dry mouth, numbness or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

A person with burning mouth syndrome may not enjoy food or drink as they did before. They may also have their sleep affected by the symptoms and become fatigued or depressed.

The condition appears to affect more women than it does men, often around menopause. It also appears to be more common in people with anxiety, depression and personality disorders.

Causes of burning mouth syndrome

The cause of burning mouth syndrome is usually unknown but is not a symptom of another disease, including mouth cancer.

Burning mouth syndrome is thought to be caused by malfunctions in nerves which send messages to the brain and is a form of neuropathic pain.

Diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome may require diagnosis by a specialist.

Doctors will look to rule out conditions which could cause similar symptoms and may test for a fungal or candida infection using a mouth swab.

After ruling out other possible causes, a diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome may be made.

Treatment for burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome may be helped by some foods or drink, rest or distractions from the unpleasant sensations in the mouth.

A review of treatments for burning mouth syndrome by the Cochrane Summaries in 2012 found a lack of evidence to recommend painkillers, hormone treatments, or antidepressants for burning mouth syndrome.

Researchers did find some evidence that anticonvulsant medicines and alpha-lipoic acid supplements may help. Psychological treatments to help people cope with the condition were also found to be beneficial in some cases.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 20, 2015

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