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Burning Mouth Syndrome Can Make Life Miserable

Treating the pain of burning mouth syndrome may require ruling out drug reactions and nutritional deficiencies.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Can Make Life Miserable
From the mouth of a man a fire erupts. Hot BMS

Some very painful conditions can be difficult to treat. The diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome implies that any obvious causes of pain have been ruled out. Finding a way to cool the burning sensation is a significant challenge.

Q. I have burning mouth syndrome. For at least two months, my mouth and tongue have been burning as if I had scalded them.

I’ve seen my dentist, dermatologist and primary care physician. They can find no disease. I tolerate only tepid drinks and bland foods; I brush my teeth with baking soda, as toothpaste burns.

I’ve tried rinsing my mouth with coconut oil, salt water, peroxide rinse and a mouth rinse for dry mouth. Nothing helps. Do you have any remedies?

A. The cause of burning mouth syndrome is frequently a mystery, making it exceptionally hard to treat. In this condition, there are no obvious diseases apparent in the mouth, although the pain can be excruciating. Some experts suspect that it is caused by a disorder of the nerves that serve the mouth, tongue and lips.

Medications That May Be Responsible

Some medications may trigger this problem; reactions to blood pressure pills such as enalapril, eprosartan or lisinopril have been reported in the medical literature.

Deficiencies That Could Lead to Burning Mouth

A vitamin B deficiency (B1, B2, B 6, B12 or folic acid) may also be responsible. Low iron or zinc levels might contribute.

Ask for a blood test to check your status. If any of these nutrients is low, a supplement might help.

An objective review of research found that alpha-lipoic acid may also be helpful (Cochrane Library, Jan. 24, 2005). This natural product is sometimes used to ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy, so it makes some sense that it might help with other forms of nerve-related pain.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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