Perhaps one of the least commonly recognized symptoms of menopause is burning tongue syndrome. The intensity and duration of this condition can vary, however; it is generally reported as a constant sensation of burning in the tongue or mouth area. This condition is more predominant in women than in men and has been attributed to hormonal changes that occur within the body. This symptom sounds excruciating, but there is help available. By first understanding the underlying causes of burning tongue syndrome, and then making the best treatment choices, it is controllable.
Understanding Burning Tongue Syndrome
The symptoms of burning tongue syndrome usually decrease during the night and begin again in the morning growing progressively more intense as the day wears on. The medical terminology for this condition is glossodynia, stomatodynia, oral galvanism and stomapyrosis. When burning tongue is a result of hormonal imbalances due to menopause, finding ways to help restore the body’s chemistry is the logical treatment to address the problem.
Common Symptoms of Burning Tongue
Burning tongue syndrome is characterized by a metallic taste in the mouth. Other symptoms are having an unusually dry mouth, stickiness, itchiness, soreness, and tingling sensations often accompanied by numb areas. These can occur on the tip of the tongue, or in other places in the mouth. There are generally no accompanying sores or lesions in the affected area and the condition may last for several years.
What Causes Burning Tongue?
The most common causes of burning tongue syndrome in menopausal women are decreases in estrogen production. Estrogen is a normal part of the chemistry found in saliva. The decrease in this component during menopause is believed to have multiple impacts upon the mouth. Low estrogen levels can contribute to damage of the taste buds on the tongue. When this damage occurs, the risk for dry or sticky mouth, metallic taste in the mouth, and pain in the damaged taste buds increases.
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Is Menopause The Only Cause of Burning Tongue Syndrome?
Menopause is not the only cause of burning tongue syndrome, in fact, there are several other potential causes. The condition can arise as the result of vitamin and or mineral deficiencies, issues within the digestive system, diabetes, dry mouth syndrome, certain medications, gastric acid reflux, anemia, allergies, oral cancers, use of tobacco, oral and dental disease, emotional disturbances, and other physical conditions. This is the major reason why it’s a good idea to consult with a medical provider to get a professional diagnosis. This will affect the type of treatment plan that will be effective in addressing the symptoms and the underlying causes.
Burning Tongue Syndrome in Women and Menopause Connection
The overriding factor which links burning tongue syndrome in women to menopause is that one of the more common causes of the disorder, is the decrease in estrogen. This makes menopause a likely suspect when it occurs during the menopause process.
Burning Tongue Syndrome Diagnosis
Anyone experiencing the symptoms of burning tongue should consult with their personal health care provider for proper testing and a medical diagnosis. It is wise to rule out all of the other potential causes of burning tongue syndrome before assuming that it is merely a symptom of menopause. In order to develop the best and most effective treatment plan, the underlying cause(s) must first be established. For example, if the symptoms are a direct result of oral or dental disease, then using the treatments recommended for menopause induced burning tongue will not address the problem and it will continue.
How is Burning Tongue Treated?
Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options available for burning tongue syndrome sufferers. The first recommendation is to make any needed lifestyle changes. Avoiding trigger foods and substances may help lessen the discomfort of burning tongue. For example, tobacco products, alcohol, spicy foods, and other consumables that may irritate or worsen the condition should be avoided. Eating a diet that is rich in soy products and other phytoestrogen rich foods such as yams will help to balance low levels of estrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens are compounds found in certain plants, which act like estrogen in the body.
Alternative medicine offers a variety of treatments that may also help. Acupuncture is a treatment that has been effective for some sufferers. In addition to this, alternative treatments also include the use of specially blended supplements that provide a safer and natural approach to bringing hormonal levels into balance.
Lastly, traditional medical treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat burning tongue syndrome. While this treatment is generally effective, the risk of side effects is greater than that of lifestyle adjustment or alternative medicine therapies.
Burning tongue syndrome is more common in menopausal women than previously believed. The symptoms often include a progressively sore mouth or tongue throughout the day. Without treatment, this disorder can last for several years. Bringing the body’s hormonal chemistry back into balance is an effective way to alleviate the symptoms and bring relief. This may be achieved through alternative medicine, lifestyle changes or traditional hormone replacement therapy. For those experiencing this painful symptom, help is available. Seek a proper diagnosis to isolate the underlying causes and get the relief you need.