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Burning Tongue – symptoms, causes and other risk factors

Burning Tongue

Burning tongue is a condition which is happening in the most people. When you eat hot food or you are drinking some hot drink, then you are feeling that your tongue is burning. There are many ways to get rid of this sensation but it is recommended using treatments which will help you in this case (treatments which are used for burns). When you have burn on your tongue which is in the middle stadium, then you are disturbed by this burn. But you should not be worried about this problem because it will heal. But you should be worried if you have burns which are in a high stadium. In this case you must visit your doctor and talk about the burns of your tongue. There are also some cases when you are not having burns on your tongue and you still feel that you have a burning sensation. This situation is known as idiopathic glossopyrosis or burning tongue syndrome [1].

Causes of burning tongue

When you are not seeing the right temperature of your foods and drinks and you eat or drink them when they are too hot, then they can cause you burns on your lips, mouth and tongue. When you are not regulating the temperature of your drinks and foods, then your risk having burning tongue is increased. In some cases when you have this syndrome you are feeling that you have burns in your mouth and there is not a clear reason why this is happening to you. Women who are in their postmenopausal period are having increased risk getting burning tongue syndrome. This is caused by the low levels of estrogen which are having big role in the sensitivity of taste [2]. There are two types of burning syndrome which are known as primary burning tongue syndrome and secondary burning tongue syndrome. The cause for the primary burning tongue syndrome is not known. The cause for the secondary burning tongue syndrome is caused by some other medical condition. This type of burning tongue syndrome can be caused by many causes such as

  • Anxiety [3]
  • Deficiency of vitamins [4]
  • Depression [3]
  • Thrush which is oral yeast infection
  • When you have used some medications for other diseases, then you can have dry mouth which is leading to burning tongue syndrome
  • When you are worrying too much [3]
  • When the immune system is attacking the membrane cells of its own mouth, then you have chronic inflammation inside of your mouth which is leading to condition known as oral lichen planus
  • When your tongue is not having papillae which are bumps in the tongue and instead of it your tongue has red and in some cases raised patches which are appearing and disappearing. This situation is known as geographic tongue which is often one of the biggest causes for burning tongue syndrome.
  • Dentures [5]
  • When your nerves are damaged
  • When you are allergic to some kinds of foods
  • When you have not normal balance of your hormones which in the most cases are feeling women who are in their menopausal period [6]
  • If you had some conditions in the past such as GERD, then the stomach acid is making its own way in your mouth. In this case you have increased risk for this condition.
  • If you have some endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism and diabetes, then your risk having burning tongue syndrome is increased.
  • If you have high blood pressure are you are taking medications for this situation, then you have increased risk of getting burning tongue syndrome [7]
  • If you have unhealthy oral habits or you have teeth grinding or you are washing too hard your teeth, then you can easily get burning tongue syndrome.

Burning Tongue

Symptoms of burning tongue: There are three degrees of this disease. The symptoms are depending on how serious is your condition.

  • First – degree burn: When you have this degree of burning tongue, then your tongue may be swollen and red. This degree of burning tongue syndrome is appearing in the outermost layer of your tongue.
  • Second – degree tongue: When you have this degree of the burning tongue, then you are feeling pain and your tongue is swollen and red because in this degree are affected the outermost layer and the under layer of your tongue.
  • Third – degree burn: The deepest tissue of your tongue is affected by this degree. Your skin is burn and it is blackened or white. Also the pain which is associated with this degree of burning tongue is increased.

Above are some of the symptoms and causes of Burning Tongue.


[1] Miziara I, Chagury A, Vargas C, et al. Therapeutic options in idiopathic burning mouth syndrome: Literature review. International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology. 2015;19(1).

[2] University of Maryland Medical Center. Scientists find hormone influences sensitivity to sweetness. Science Daily. 2010.

[3] Galli F, Lodi G, Sardella A, et al. Role of psychological factors in burning mouth syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. SAGE Journals. 2016;37(3):265-77.

[4] Sun A, Wu KM, Wang YP, et al. Burning mouth syndrome: a review and update. Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine. 2013;42(9):649-55.

[5] Mukatash-Nimri GE, Al-Nimri MA, Al-Jadeed OG, et al. Patients with burning mouth sensations. A clinical investigation of causative factors in a group of “compete denture wearers” Jordanian population. The Saudi Dental Journal. 2017;29(1):24-8.

[6] Dahiya P, Kamal R, Kumar M, et al. Burning mouth syndrome and menopause.International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;4(1):15–20.

[7] Grushka M, Epstein JB, Gorsky M. Burning mouth syndrome. American Family Physician. 2002;65(4):615-21.

Hanan Marshal
Hanan Marshal
Hanan, a medical student (MBBS) having passion for writing and is very much interested in holistic living along with nature. He is very much interested in doing community service and watches anime and play PS4 during his free time. You can reach him through [email protected]


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