Burning Mouth Syndrome

February 2, 2010

As if a woman in menopause doesn't have enough to deal with, along comes another symptom. But, she probably doesn't know it's a symptom of menopause. She probably thinks it's something she ate. The only trouble is, it doesn't go away.

What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome (otherwise known as stomatopyrosis, stomatodynia, and oral dysesthesia) happens in women who are post-menopausal. Obviously, it affects the mouth, and the most common part of the mouth that is affected is the tongue. It isn't the same sort of burn as one would experience from eating certain foods that are either acidic or irritating. The syndrome is not well understood and can be caused by a number of different factors ending in the same common symptom.

What Causes Burning Mouth Syndrome?

The list of possible contributors to this sometimes very painful condition is lengthy and encompasses a wide variety of irritants. Antibiotics, which are notorious for causing an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, causing thrush, alter the balance of bacteria in the mouth. Dentures that don't fit well and an allergic reaction to dental materials can also create the problem. Anything that leads to dry mouth along with an overuse of mouth wash and mouth sprays may be a cause of burning mouth syndrome. Chemical sensitivities figure into the equation, especially when it comes to food additives like preservatives. Sorbic acid and benzoic acid in foods and propylene glycol which is used as a moisturizing agent in cosmetics, drugs, and some foods, chicle (found in some gums), and cinnamon (who would have thought?) can all be a source of burning mouth.

Are They Other Symptoms?

Burning mouth syndrome may affect the entire mouth or just the tongue. It can start out mildly and end up with the feeling that a flame thrower hit the mouth by the end of the day. Along with the fire, there is thirst, a dry mouth, and food just doesn't taste the same. The fallout from this syndrome includes changes in eating habits, irritability (who wouldn't be cranky with a mouth that is on fire), depression, and even avoiding people.

How To Put Out The Fire

Easy to diagnose but difficult to treat, burning mouth syndrome is one of those things a woman has to work with to figure out. Sometimes the symptoms go away for a while. However, they usually return. Keeping the mouth moist with frequently sipping water or checking gum (that doesn't have chicle in it) can be helpful. Sometimes antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs are helpful, but they can also exacerbate the situation by causing dry mouth.

While this syndrome happens most frequently to women, some men experience it as well. In the majority of cases, there is no specific cause for the problem and as a result, even though it has been around for centuries, it has been ignored for just as long. It was believed that it was a hysterical symptom brought on by emotional distress. Interestingly enough, antidepressants sometimes do the trick in alleviating the symptoms. Go figure.

 

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