Burn­ing tongue syn­drome mostly tar­gets older women

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

DEAR DR. DONO­HUE: I am 82. I have had some­thing wrong with my tongue for months. I went to my fam­ily doc­tor and he thought it was a yeast in­fec­tion. He sent me to a spe­cial­ist, who called it black tongue. He sent me to a store that sells col­loidal sil­ver and tea tree. They helped. I thought I was cured, but about three weeks later my tongue started burn­ing ter­ri­bly. The medicine no longer works. My daugh­ter looked on the In­ter­net and said I have burn­ing tongue syn­drome. I started tak­ing vi­ta­min B-2. I don’t know where to turn. — R.R.

AN­SWER: Papil­lae cover the tongue. They’re tiny pro­jec­tions that look like minia­ture ici­cles when viewed with a mag­ni­fy­ing glass. Some con­tain taste buds. In black tongue, those papil­lae are elon­gated and turn a dark colour. Left alone, the colour usu­ally dis­ap­pears. Gen­tly brush­ing the tongue with a tooth­brush gets rid of it faster.

Burn­ing tongue is dread­fully painful and the burn­ing sen­sa­tion some­times can be felt on the gums, roof of the mouth and in­ner cheeks. Post-menopausal women are the pri­mary tar­gets. As soon as you can, con­sult your den­tist. You need a thor­ough exam of your mouth. De­fi­cien­cies of the B vi­ta­mins — thi­amine, ri­boflavin, fo­late and B-6 — might be re­spon­si­ble, but such de­fi­cien­cies are rarely seen in well-fed pop­u­la­tions. Iron de­fi­ciency is an­other pos­si­bil­ity. A dry mouth leads to burn­ing tongue, and it can be reme­died with ar­ti­fi­cial sali­vas, su­gar-free chew­ing gum and some­times medicines.

In most peo­ple, a cause is never found. Some home reme­dies in­clude rins­ing your mouth with cold ap­ple juice. Or you can make a mouth rinse con­sist­ing of equal parts Kaopec­tate and Be­nadryl elixir, both read­ily found in all drug­stores without a pre­scrip­tion. Swish it around in your mouth at least three times a day, and then spit it out. Some peo­ple find that adding four or five drops of Tabasco sauce in a spoon­ful of wa­ter is an ef­fec­tive mouth rinse. Def­i­nitely spit this out af­ter rins­ing. If it causes great pain, don’t pur­sue the treat­ment.

DEAR DR. DONO­HUE: Ev­ery time I have had a flu shot, I have been ill af­ter­ward, in­creas­ingly more in­tense each time. Nau­sea, vom­it­ing, high tem­per­a­ture, sweat­ing and even hal­lu­ci­na­tions are some of the symp­toms. I no longer take the flu shot.

I am, as has been pointed out by my mother, very sen­si­tive to egg whites. I un­der­stand they are com- po­nents of the flu shot serum. Ap­par­ently, there are other peo­ple with the same dilemma.

Why is egg sen­si­tiv­ity rarely or never ad­dressed when the shots are be­ing pro­moted? I can’t get any con­crete an­swers on this. I am sup­posed to take the flu shot be­cause I work in the health-care field. — E.B.

AN­SWER: Most flu vaccines are grown in eggs. Egg pro­tein can cling to the vi­ral par­ti­cles and be in­cor­po­rated into the vac­cine. Peo­ple with egg al­lergy should not take the vac­cine if it has been pre­pared in eggs.

This piece of in­for­ma­tion should be elicited from every­one who wants a flu shot. I don’t know why it’s not men­tioned in cam­paigns ad­ver­tis­ing flu im­mu­niza­tion. I be­lieve it’s taken for granted that the per­son ad­min­is­ter­ing the vac­cine will ask the ques­tion.

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