Doctors, patients seek answers for burning mouth syndrome

VIDEO: Doctors, patients seek answers for burning mouth syndrome

CLEARWATER, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - A burning sensation in the mouth that just won't go away, no matter what someone tries has sufferers searching for help and doctors are looking for answers.

The unusual condition is burning mouth syndrome. It is a regular routine for many, but agonizing for Rod Palmateer.

"It feels like my tongue has been burnt," Palmateer said.

The movie buff couldn't even enjoy a show. The burning sensation would not go away.

"At its height, it was very uncomfortable just to be sitting doing nothing," Palmateer said.

Palmateer later found out he had burning mouth syndrome.

"I thought it sounded medieval," Palmateer said. "I found out it was a fitting name."

Burning mouth syndrome is somewhat of a medical mystery. Dr. Lance Cohen, an otolaryngologist of ENT Associates in Clearwater, Florida, said it's a neuropathic condition.

"There is not a lot of definitive understanding as to what causes it and what are the best ways to treat it," Cohen said.

Cohen said burning mouth syndrome occurs in about four percent of the U.S. population in mostly perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, but it also does occur in men.

"Talking could be irritating," Palmateer said.

Palmateer finally found relief with a medicine called amitriptyline. In the 60s and 70s it was used as an anti-depressant. After three weeks, his symptoms were gone and he weaned off the medication.

"We try to suppress the nerve from firing and to give the patient some relief," Cohen said.

Cohen said cognitive behavioral therapy is also used to treat the symptoms.

Both are working for Palmateer who has found a way to keep his cool.

His burning mouth syndrome did relapse, but he used the same medicine and the symptoms went away. Cohen said amitriptyline can make people sleepy so they usually take the medication at night.

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