hottongueIt's not uncommon for people to drink or eat unbelievably hot food or liquids.  Half asleep, we throw into our mouths that boiling coffee straight out of the microwave, not thinking that the surfaces of our tongue, mouth and throat are tissue (mucous membrane), too.  They are subject to burns and cuts like the rest of us.  Would we throw the same boiling coffee on our hand or arm?

What do you do if you do suffer mouth and/or throat burn?  With an ordinary burn, we can put an ice pack on the site, cover it and monitor it for infection.  The principle is similar with mouth and throat burn.  Fight heat with cold.  Cold reduces swelling and relieves pain.  Find something very cold, the colder the better, to pop in your mouth.  An ice cube, a popsicle, ice cream or frozen yogurt, even a few frozen veggies.  Continue treating by drinking ice cold water. 

If the burn is serious enough, you may have to resort to a topical solution with benzocaine, which can be obtained from your pharmacy.  The medication needs to be safe enough to  be digested.  Orajel, Anbesol, Zilactin are manufactured for painful mouth conditions.  Broad spectrum oral pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil may also be of benefit. 

Even more painful, you'll have to give up consuming anything hot until the burn heals, even your cherished hot cup of coffee.  You'll be wise to stay away from spicy foods, sharp-edged and crunchy foods such as chips and crackers, salty and acidic foods, hot cheesy pizza. 

Burns of the mouth generally heal within two weeks.  If the burn persists (and you've done everything you were supposed to do), it's time to consult with a doctor.  One unfortunate aspect of mouth burn (other than the restrictions it places on food and drink intake) is that the burn is more difficult to monitor visually.

Burning mouth syndrome is a separate condition that does not have anything to do with an actual mucous membrane burn.  It is a false sensation that a burn has occurred, likely resulting from overactive nerves.  It usually starts on the tongue or palate.  Your doctor can prescribe medications that will relieve the uncomfortable symptoms, but at this time there is no actual corrective treatment available.

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