What is it?
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a type of chronic pain that affects your face. It causes extreme, sudden burning or shock-like pain. It usually affects one side of the face. Any vibration on your face, even from talking, can set it off. The condition may come and go, disappearing for days or even months. But the longer you have it, the less often it goes away.
What are the symptoms?
Sudden attacks of severe, sharp and shooting facial pain that last from a few seconds to about two minutes. Trigeminal neuralgia usually only affects one side of your face. In rare cases it can affect both sides, although not at the same time. The pain can be in the teeth, the lower jaw, upper jaw, cheek and, less commonly, in the forehead or the eye. You may experience bouts of pain that last only a few seconds or minutes. A series of attacks can last days, weeks, or months, followed by periods of remission.
It’s important to eat nourishing meals, so consider eating mushy foods or liquidising your meals if you’re having difficulty chewing.
Avoid the triggers if possible. * If your pain is triggered by wind, it may help to wear a scarf wrapped around your face in windy weather. A transparent dome-shaped umbrella can also protect your face from the weather. * If your pain is triggered by a draught in a room, avoid sitting near open windows or the source of air conditioning. * Avoid hot, spicy or cold food or drink if these seem to trigger your pain. Using a straw to drink warm or cold drinks may also help prevent the liquid coming into contact with the painful areas of your mouth. * Certain foods seem to trigger attacks in some people, so you may want to consider avoiding things such as caffeine, citrus fruits and bananas.
Things to watch out for
Contact your GP for further evaluation and treatment options