Burning Mouth Syndrome

You know the feeling you get when you eat something too spicy and the inside of your mouth feels like it’s caught fire? Well, imagine that feeling starting up and then not going away no matter how much milk you drink. Imagine having that same burning feeling all day every day regardless of your diet.

For individuals suffering from burning mouth syndrome, that is a distressing reality. Not only do their mouths burn, but the burning sensation is also often accompanied by chronic dryness in the mouth and altered taste.

Burning mouth syndrome is fairly common and most prevalent among post-menopausal women. Some reports indicate that between 10 and 40 per cent of women visiting their doctors for treatment of menopausal symptoms are experiencing burning mouth symptoms.

It is still not fully understood what causes this painful disorder. Until recently it was thought that burning mouth syndrome was primarily psychological in nature. Doctors believed it may be linked to depression and anxiety. Although it is true that there seem to be higher rates of depression and anxiety among those with burning mouth syndrome, it is now believed that this could be simply due to the distress caused by the painful condition.

Symptoms of burning mouth condition often begin with no obvious cause or trigger and they can last for many years. Once it has begun, sufferers will usually awaken with little or no pain in the morning, but will experience increasing pain throughout the day and into the evening and often have difficulties sleeping at night as a result.

Unfortunately, there is currently no effective treatment for this condition. Various pain medications as well as antidepressants are sometimes used to attempt to ease the suffering of patients, but often with marginal effects.

New research into the cause of burning mouth syndrome is now pointing toward dysfunction in several of the cranial nerves and researchers believe it may be a kind of neuropathic pain condition like those I discussed in a recent column on that subject.

Research is still underway to find effective treatments for all kinds of neuropathic pain, which can be debilitating and difficult to treat.

This kind of pain can include conditions such as post herpetic neuralgia also called pain due to shingles, post surgical pain, phantom limb pain, peripheral diabetic neuropathy and many other forms of pain chronic pain associated with dysfunction in the nervous system.



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