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Burning mouth syndrome, chronic health issues

Created date

August 24th, 2017
Two senior women riding bicycles.

A prescription that’s free, easy to take, and good for almost any health problem is exercise.

Please note: The following questions were submitted by readers. The answers are intended for your general information and should not replace a doctor’s medical advice.

Q. I have burning mouth syndrome. I have tried many treatments, none of which seem to help. What can I do for relief?

A. Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a very real condition. As you already know, the symptoms include significant pain, burning, stinging, or numbness in the mouth—especially the tongue. Most people also experience an altered sense of taste and dry mouth. BMS can be related to medical conditions, such as infections, acid reflux, allergies, hormonal problems, or malnutrition. It can also be due to certain medicines. Overall, it is a complex medical condition that’s hard to treat, and no specific option works for everyone. Specialists who treat BMS include dentists who specialize in oral medicine or oral surgery; ear, nose, and throat doctors; gastroenterologists; and dermatologists. Treatments may include saliva replacement products, oral rinses, capsaicin, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, medications that block nerve pain, and cognitive behavioral therapy. First, you need to see your primary doctor to determine whether there is an underlying cause that can be treated.

Q. I am in my late 80s and have several health problems, including hearing loss, chronic dizziness, asthma, constipation, and arthritis in my hip. I am fairly active, but what else can I do to manage all of these problems and make life more enjoyable?

A. Over half of people age 65-plus have two or more chronic health issues, and that number certainly rises with age. One of the most important ways to optimally maintain your health is by partnering with a doctor who is familiar with you and your health. Doctors who are proficient in the medical care of seniors—geriatricians, in particular—know the best ways to manage the complex interplay of chronic conditions and how to simplify your medication regimen (when possible) to eliminate bothersome side effects, especially those that interfere with your quality of life. A prescription that’s free, easy to take, and good for almost any health problem is exercise. Research shows that daily activity puts you in a better mood. Finally, socializing with others has been shown to improve physical and emotional health. A recent study showed that seniors who were socially active were about half as likely to develop a disability that affects daily life.

Health and wellness experts practice exclusively at Erickson Living communities all over the U.S. Dr. Kundrat, medical director at Riderwood, earned a B.S. in chemistry from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa. He completed his internship at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and his residency in internal medicine at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine in Norfolk. Board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine, he joined Riderwood in 2008.