An ear, nose and throat doctor explains the 9 possible causes of a burning tongue, and one of these conditions can kill you.
A burning tongue can have numerous causes, says Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology.
“Burning tongue can be caused by dehydration, certain medications (which tend to lead to dry mouth), acid reflux, diabetes (dry mouth), infection (yeast), tongue ulcer or menopause,” explains Dr. Silvers.
“If the symptoms started within days or weeks of starting a new medication, then speak with your doctor, as this may be the cause,” says Dr. Silvers.
“If you have excessive thirst and tongue irritation, then see your doctor for routine blood testing to check for diabetes.” Diabetes is a life-threatening condition that also increases the risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and dementia.
“Recent courses of antibiotics, steroid inhalers for asthma and poor ability to fight infection (seen with HIV or other autoimmune disorders) can lead to yeast infections and cause a burning tongue; see your doctor for a culture.”
“Acid reflux is a common cause of burning tongue due to the acidity from the stomach which can irritate the tongue and the oral cavity. Consider seeing your physician or trying an over the counter reflux treatment to see if the symptoms resolve.”
Dr. Silvers says, “If you are experiencing menopause then see your GYN. Hormone replacement therapy may be helpful.”
Of course, the burning can also be caused by having recently eaten something hot, or taken a hot drink.
Another cause of the burning sensation is a cut, usually caused by a sharp piece of food, such as a bit of potato chip.
An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology numerous times since 2003.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.