The state of your tongue from colour to bumps and spots can be harmless, or it can give you clues about what may be going on in you. Your tongue’s state can point to a variety of conditions including infections, stress, ageing, and more. Here are some things your tongue could be saying about your health.
White coating, spots, or patches
A white tongue or white spots could be an indication of oral thrush which is a yeast infection. Oral thrush is most common among children and the elderly. White patches could also be a symptom of Leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a condition in which the cells of the mouth grow excessively leading to white patches on the tongue and inside the mouth. It’s most common in people who use tobacco and tobacco products and while often not dangerous, it may be a precursor to cancer so you should speak to your doctor about it.
A red tongue could indicate a harmless condition called geographic tongue in which the tongue has red patches with white borders. It affects about 1 to 2.5% of the population.
A red tongue may also signal vitamin B deficiencies, specifically vitamin B-9 and B-12. Health: Vitamin B – Benefits And Sources
It may be a symptom of Kawasaki disease which is a serious condition that causes a high fever along with a strawberry-like appearance on the tongue. It’s most common in children under five.
Another condition that presents with strawberry-like shapes on the tongue is scarlet fever which coincides with strep throat. This is a serious illness that requires prompt treatment.
Hairy and black
This may sound like something straight out of a horror film but is not nearly as serious as it sounds. Tiny bumps on your tongue grow throughout your life and when they get really long they can look like hair. When overgrown, they tend to accumulate a lot of bacteria which may look black or dark. Most often though, a black tongue is the result of poor oral hygiene. It can also occur due to diabetes, chemotherapy or a reaction to certain antibiotics or medication.
A yellow tongue is often not a serious cause for concern. It’s often a product of bacteria build-up from things like poor oral hygiene, smoking and chewing tobacco, alcohol, or coffee. It may also be a symptom of dry mouth or psoriasis or a reaction to taking certain vitamins.
Sore or bumpy
Painful bumps or sores on your mouth can be due to trauma like accidentally biting or burning your tongue. Soreness may be because of smoking which irritates the tongue. You may develop painful mouth sores or canker sores whose cause is unknown, but they’re linked to stress. They normally heal within a week or two. A lump or sore that doesn’t go away within a few weeks may be an indication of oral cancer and you should speak to a doctor about sores that persist.
If your tongue feels like you scaled it and tastes metallic or bitter, you may have burning mouth syndrome. It may also signal a problem with the nerves in your tongue. Other health problems that may cause it are infections, acid reflux, and diabetes. For some people, certain things cause the burning feeling including acidic foods like pineapples, toothpaste, mouthwash, candy, and even gum.
The tongue naturally has tiny bumps, a really smooth gloss red tongue may indicate a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or B vitamins. It can also be caused by infections, celiac disease, and even certain medications. The spots may come and go and if the smooth areas are next to bumpy ones, it may be geographic tongue.
If your tongue is fissured with deep grooves, it’s likely harmless and you just need to brush carefully to clear food and bacteria. If there’s a condition causing them the grooves may get better if the condition is treated. Some conditions linked to it are Down Syndrome, psoriasis, and Sjögren’s syndrome.
This refers to when your tongue is too big compared to the rest of your mouth. It may take up so much room that there are teeth imprints on the sides of the tongue. It may be caused by hypothyroidism, an infection, or allergies. You need to see a doctor to diagnose the underlying condition.
A thin tongue may indicate dehydration.
The good news is most spots, bumps, and colours on your tongue are harmless. Sores or pain that persist for weeks, however, may require some medical attention.
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