Type 2 diabetes can cause a wide range of symptoms, from peeing more than usual, particularly at night, to feeling thirsty all the time. But one sign people may not necessarily link to the condition is a burning mouth of tongue.
A burning mouth or tongue is listed as one of a number of oral health problems that can develop as a result of diabetes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
It explains: “The link between diabetes and oral health problems is high blood sugar. If blood sugar is poorly controlled, oral health problems are more likely to develop.
“This is because uncontrolled diabetes weakens white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.
“Just as studies have shown that controlling blood sugar levels lowers the risk of major organ complications of diabetes — such as eye, heart, and nerve damage — it can protect against the development of oral health problems.”
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A burning mouth or tongue is usually caused by the presence of thrush, which can be more common in people with diabetes as high blood sugar levels lead to better conditions for the yeast to grow.
A person with oral thrush may also experience a nasty or bitter taste in their mouth, redness or bleeding inside the mouth, creamy white coloured patches in the mouth, lips, tongue or back of the mouth, and cracks at the corners of the lips.
Other oral health problems associated with diabetes include a dry mouth.
The clinic explains: “Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva (spit) flow, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections and tooth decay.”
Gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, and periodontitis can also ensue.
It says: “Besides weakening white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it causes blood vessels to thicken. This slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth.
“When this combination of events, the body loses its ability to fight infections.
“Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, people with uncontrolled diabetes might experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.”
How to prevent and control type 2 diabetes
A healthy diet and keeping active can help manage blood sugar levels, according to the NHS.
The health body advises: “You should eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum, and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – don’t skip meals.”
When it comes to exercise, it advises: “Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week.
“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath. This could be fast walking, climbing stairs and doing more strenuous housework or gardening.”