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What Does Burning Mouth Syndrome Look Like?

Find out how patients are finding relief from oral mucositis caused by chemotherapy

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What Does Burning Mouth Syndrome Look Like?

We’ve all experienced the unpleasantness that comes from biting into food that’s far too hot or sipping on some tea or coffee that hasn’t cooled enough, but for some people, these sensations are part of daily life, regardless of what they’ve had to eat or drink.

Those who deal with this have what’s called burning mouth syndrome (BMS), a condition that’s every bit as bad as it sounds. Unfortunately, this condition can be very difficult to diagnose or treat, thanks in large part to its camouflaged nature and the general lack of information surrounding it.

If you think you or someone you know might have BMS, you might be wondering, “What does burning mouth syndrome look like?” To find out more about this illness, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ provide some answers.

How Burning Mouth Syndrome Looks

Part of what makes burning mouth syndrome such a frustrating ailment to face is the fact that it can be impossible to spot with a simple visual inspection. In fact, for most BMS patients, a hallmark of the condition is that the tissues where they feel pain often don’t have any sign of an injury or abnormality at all; in other words, burning mouth syndrome doesn’t really look like anything, because it doesn’t cause visible changes, at least on its own (Source).

One possible exception to this would be cases in which the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome are caused by some other condition that does have visible signs. For example, a yeast infection can sometimes lead to BMS, and since a yeast infection has visible symptoms, such as oral lesions, a doctor may be able to see the cause of your BMS, even if the condition may not be obvious on its own.

How Burning Mouth Syndrome Feels

While the burning or scalding sensation implied in the name “burning mouth syndrome” is a common symptom of this condition, it’s not the only one. Patients with BMS report feeling tingling or numbness in the affected areas; while the tongue is most often affected, the symptoms of BMS can also be felt in the cheeks, lips, gums, throat, or palate. In addition, burning mouth syndrome can also present dry mouth (xerostomia), a lingering bad taste that seems sour or metallic, or excessive thirst.

In the majority of cases, the symptoms of BMS appear suddenly, rather than over time, though the condition rarely resolves that way. Patients might have pain or discomfort that stays consistent throughout the day, or their symptoms could wax and wane in severity; other patients say the sensations associated with BMS aren’t there in the morning and appear gradually as the day goes on. For many people with burning mouth syndrome, the discomfort actually lessens when eating or drinking, allowing them to find some relief.

How to Tell If You Have Burning Mouth Syndrome

In the absence of visible indicators, it can be tough to tell if you have burning mouth syndrome with a quick examination, so your doctor will probably have to run an array of tests before making any kind of diagnosis.

Because there are many possible causes of BMS, the list of possible tests is long; the following are some of the most common ways your doctor might try and find the cause of your burning mouth syndrome:

  • Medications changes, which can help determine whether your symptoms are caused as a side effect of something you’re taking
  • Blood tests, which can check for a wide variety of illnesses by measuring your blood cell count, hormone levels, and other internal conditions
  • Salivary flow tests, which can determine whether your mouth is producing enough saliva
  • Psychological examinations, which can determine whether a mental illness could be contributing to your physical symptoms
  • Imaging scans, which can look for physical abnormalities that could be causing your pain
  • Allergy tests, which can help determine whether you have an allergy or sensitivity to foods, dyes, fragrances, or the materials in dental work
  • Acid reflux tests, which can check for gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Oral swabs, cultures, or biopsies, which can help identify any infections that may be present

Diagnosing and Treating Burning Mouth Syndrome

The final diagnosis you receive will depend more on whether your health care provider can find any cause for your BMS than on the exact nature of that cause. A patient whose burning mouth syndrome is a side effect of chemotherapy or the result of a thyroid issue, to name some examples, will be diagnosed with secondary BMS – the diagnosis applied in all cases where an underlying cause can be identified. For those whose BMS doesn’t seem to have a specific cause, the diagnosis is primary burning mouth syndrome.

While the symptoms are essentially the same for both varieties of BMS, the treatment options are quite different. A patient with secondary BMS can likely receive treatment for whatever ailment is causing their symptoms, and even when that’s not an option, their doctor can probably provide more specialized care.

However, because primary BMS doesn’t have a clear cause, doctors can generally do little to cure the condition and instead must focus on mitigating symptoms.

Try a Natural Home Remedy for Burning Mouth Syndrome

Though it was first thought up as a way to relieve pain caused by oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can also be effective at helping with burning mouth syndrome. This simple, easy-to-use device can chill the mouth by as much as 30 degrees over half an hour, soothing and numbing the affected areas.

To learn more about the Chemo Mouthpiece™ and what it can do for you, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.

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