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Dental and Oral Health Center

Sore tongue

12/11/2007

Question:

I got the flu and my tounge got sore and felt like it was on fire. What could be causing this?

Answer:

Sorry for not responding sooner.

My first question was: What other symptoms did you have with what you call the "flu"? I would presume that the symptoms being described may be related to what is referred to as "Burning Mouth Syndrome or BMS". The cause or etiology is unknown, but viral infections have been implicated, as have trauma and some drugs. You mention that the burning sensation began after or during the "flu." Are you still having pain? Some cases of BMS may be symptomatic for years.

As I mentioned, BMS is a complex problem and may be the result or association of many different health problems, such as:

to name just a few.

Management is generally palliative (treats the symptoms) and attempts to determine the etiological agents or predisposing factors. In other words, trial and error and attempts to find out the cause by elimination (change toothpaste, stop chewing gum, increase fluid intake, check with physician about current medications as a possible source of the problem, reduce stress).

As you can see, management is not a simple "take a pill and it will get better." The association and timing with the "flu" is very interesting as some viral infections may temporarily affect nerve supply to the tongue and supportive structures.

In any case, I would have your primary care physician evaluate the problem. This may result in your seeing an ENT specialist or an oral medicine specialist to evaluate your problem and make suggestions on managing this problem.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University