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October 22, 2020

Burning mouth sensation

Burning mouth sensation and what you can do about it

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Changes to your sense of smell don’t just affect the smell and taste of food – it can also impact on other sensations associated with food. One in particular is ‘burning mouth sensation’, when some foods trigger an unpleasant burning sensation. This symptom is a common one for people who are experiencing a change to their sense of smell and taste as a result of Covid-19.

In our recent webinar on 15 September, our experts - Dr Duika Burges Watson, founder of the Altered Eating Network and lecturer at Newcastle University, Professor Vincent Deary, health psychologist at Northumberland University, and Sheri Taylor, specialist in nutrition rehabilitation – discussed what might cause this and what things could help to avoid and remove it.

What works for you?

Prof Deary shared some research that he’d conducted in people with Sjogren’s syndrome who experienced burning mouth sensation. In this work, people were encouraged to experiment with tastes and textures to find how they could avoid this sensation, or calm it. Everyone experiences this differently, so experimentation is important.

Try different forms of the same food as well. Interestingly, the researchers found that dips made from solid cheese didn’t cause the effect in people for whom cheese in its solid form did. It’s worth trying various foods, consistencies and textures to find what works for you.

Palette cleansers

Some people find that cleansing their palette can get rid of a burning sensation – these are especially handy to have when you’re experimenting with other foods and textures in case one is a trigger.

Again, you’ll need to experiment to see what works best for you. Perhaps just water will help (although not if you find it disgusting – see our blog post on tips to help with that), or some people find that mints are helpful. Cinnamon seems to work for a lot of people with parosmia. Dr Burges Watson shared that some people find sour flavours helpful – for example lemon, or olives – or different herbs. Try some different flavours out to see what can help you.

What works for you as a palette cleanser or to calm burning mouth sensation may change for you over time, so it’s important to keep testing different foods so that you have something that works for you. Experimentation really is key.

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