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Burning Tongue
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Burning Tongue

Tongue Anatomy

Burning tongue can be a very irritating and painful symptom of menopause. Like the name suggests, burning tongue occurs when an individual experiences a burning sensation on the tongue or in the mouth. Everyone has sipped a beverage such as coffee or tea that is too hot and burned their tongue. This is the sensation burning tongue sufferers experience constantly.

Burning tongue affects women seven times as often as men. Women going through hormonal transitions, such as the time leading up to menopause, are at an even greater risk of developing the symptom, because hormonal imbalance is known to cause burning tongue. Continue reading to learn more about burning tongue, its causes, and ways to treat it.

About Burning Tongue

Did You Know?

Burning mouth pain is often absent during the night, but progressively increases throughout the day and into the evening.

Also known as burning mouth syndrome, burning tongue has a self-explanatory name. It is also known by its medical names: glossodynia, glossopyrosis, oral galvanism, stomatodynia, and stomatopyrosis. Burning tongue is accompanied by burning pain on the tongue, especially on the tip or back of the tongue, or other areas of the mouth. Following the onset, which is often spontaneous, burning tongue has been known to last for several years. There are typically no visible signs or lesions on the tongue or mouth in those who suffer from it.

Burning tongue common symptoms

Other common symptoms of burning tongue are dry, itchy mouth, a metallic taste or numb sensation in the mouth. Please see the image for the full list of common symptoms.

Continue reading to learn more about the causes of burning tongue.

Tongue Pain: Important Things to Know

Tongue pain is not an easy symptom to live with. It contributes to anxiety and mood swings, loss of appetite, and social withdrawal. Numerous conditions can trigger tongue pain from hormonal shifts to mouth ulcers, many of which are treatable and do not result in serious complications.

What to Expect When You Have Burning Tongue and Throat

Menopause brings with it a variety of different symptoms, some common such as hot flashes, while others are less known, such as burning tongue syndrome. Learn more about burning tongue and mouth sensations that can occur during menopause.

Causes of Burning Tongue

Did You Know?

"Supertasters" are individuals with abnormally dense and abundant taste buds who have a heightened sense of taste. Supertasters are affected more dramatically by burning tongue than those with a normal amount of taste buds.

There are several possible causes of burning tongue, but because it is most common in postmenopausal women, researchers believe the primary cause in women is hormonal imbalance, specifically low estrogen levels. In fact, burning tongue affects up to 40% of menopausal women, with the onset typically occurring between three years prior to menopause and 12 years following menopause.

Taste bud sections

Estrogen is known to play a part in the secretion of saliva, which researchers believe can cause burning tongue once estrogen levels decrease. Estrogen also affects the bitter taste buds located at the back of the tongue. Without adequate levels of estrogen, they bitter taste buds may lose their functionality. These taste buds are surrounded by a basket-like collection of pain neurons that activate when the taste buds are damaged by lack of estrogen.

Other causes of burning tongue

Although hormonal imbalance is the primary cause of burning tongue in menopausal women, there are other causes of burning tongue as well, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco use
  • Oral candida (oral yeast)
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Gastric acid reflux
  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamin B12, niacin, iron, or folic acid)
  • Allergies (foods, toothpastes, mouthwashes, chewing gums)
  • Noxious oral habits (tongue biting, scalloped tongue)
  • Geographic tongue
  • Dental disease
  • Depression
  • Chronic infections
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Lingual nerve damage
  • Oral cancer
  • Blood abnormalities (dyscrasias, anemia)
  • Medications (diuretics, oral diabetic meds, some blood pressure meds)

If pain or soreness in your tongue, lips, gums, or other areas of your mouth persists for several days, consult a doctor. A doctor can search for the possible causes and recommend treatment options.

Continue reading to learn the treatment options for burning tongue.

5 Underlying Causes of Burning Tongue

Burning tongue sensation is a strange and uncomfortable symptom of menopause that can come on without warning. There are a number of things that may cause it, however, such as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, diabetes, certain medications, and teeth grinding. Women can treat this with lifestyle adjustments and herbal supplements.

Burning Tongue Treatments

Because burning tongue triggers physical pain and discomfort, those who suffer from it often seek treatment. When exploring treatment options, it's important to begin with methods that carry the least amount of risk and progress from there.

Did You Know?

Chewing sugar-free gum can be an easy remedy for burning tongue.

This means that lifestyle changes are the best place to begin. Some simple tasks can alleviate some of the discomfort of burning tongue. Drinking more water, for instance, can stimulate saliva production and relieve some of the symptoms. It is best to avoid spicy foods, cinnamon, and mint.

Herbal remedies

Typically, combining lifestyle changes and alternative medicines will produce the best outcome. Alternative medicines can be different herbs and supplements, or even techniques like aromatherapy. When seeking out alternative medicines, it is important to find treatments that can balance hormone levels, which target symptoms at the source.

Finally, if burning tongue persists, there are different medications and surgeries that can be explored. Medications are often prescribed simply to cope with burning tongue, but do nothing to treat the source of the problem. This final option also comes with the most risks and side effects.

Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for burning tongue, which begin with lifestyle changes, move on to alternative medicines, and finally, if those options are ineffective, medications and surgery. The most effective treatments for burning tongue typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.

Burning Tongue Syndrome: Natural Remedies

Studies find that women are about seven times as likely as men to suffer from burning tongue syndrome, a painful affliction that produces frequent burning, tingling, or numbing sensations on the tongue and in various other parts of the mouth. This article presents natural remedies and effective lifestyle changes for managing the symptoms.

How to Keep Cool when Your Tongue Feels Like it's Burning

Burning tongue is one of the rarer symptoms of the menopause transition. However, there are a variety of different things you can do to alleviate the pain. Click on the following link to learn more about the various causes and treatments of burning tongue during the menopause transition.

Sources:
  • Dahiya, P. et al. (2013). Burning Mouth Syndrome and Menopause. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4(1), 15-20. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570906/
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2014). Burning Mouth Syndrome. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/Burning/BurningMouthSyndrome.htm
  • Office on Women's Health. (2012). Oral health fact sheet. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/oral-health.html

General articles

Updated on Dec 04, 2017
Sensitive Tongue: What's Happening and What to Do?
Although it is one of the rarest menopausal symptoms, sensitive tongue belongs to some of the least pleasant ones. Although in many cases its causes are unknown, certain lifestyle habits or medical conditions, like low iron or allergies, can also be the cause. Many women find relief in natural supplements or medication.
Updated on Jan 10, 2017
Tongue Burning After Eating: Foods to Avoid
Characterized by a painful, scalding sensation, burning tongue syndrome is a serious condition that affects the lives of many women experiencing menopause-induced hormonal imbalance. This article outlines a few specific foods to steer clear of, especially when the aim is to avoid causing further damage by burning your tongue after eating.
Updated on Jul 02, 2015
Understanding Burning Mouth and Tongue
Burning mouth is one of the less common symptoms of menopause, but it still can be frustrating and painful. While the exact cause of burning tongue is not completely understood, it can be triggered by stress or trauma, and it may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Click here to learn more.
Updated on Jan 06, 2014
Burning Mouth and Tongue
Are you suffering from burning mouth and tongue? One of several causes could be behind this painful symptom, such as hormonal fluctuations during the menopause transition, oral infections, and some types of medications. To learn more about the causes and treatments for burning mouth, click here.
Updated on Aug 20, 2013
Burning Tongue Syndrome
Are you suffering from burning tongue syndrome? There are a variety of causes for this, such as hormonal fluctuations in menopause, oral infections, and some types of medications. To learn more about the causes and treatments for burning mouth syndrome, please click the following link.