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Tongue and Health – Common Signs of Illnesses to Watch Out

tongue health

Of course, our tongue helps us taste the food, swallow, chew and decide whether the meal was tasty. Unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked parts of our body. Most of us don’t know that our tongue does more than just tasting the food. 

It can show the symptoms of many acute and chronic illnesses. Patches, bumps, and spots can be harmless. But they often give clues to your health status. Stress, infections, medical issues, and even aging can be seen on your tongue. In this article, we will discuss what your tongue can tell you and when is the best time to see your dentist or doctor. 

Burning Sensation 

If it feels like you have burned your tongue with hot coffee and it tastes bitter or metallic, it is the sign of burning mouth syndrome. It might be the sign of a problem with nerves in the tongue. Some health issues like infections, dry mouth, diabetes, and acid reflux might also be the causes. Acidic foods like toothpaste, pineapple, candy, mouthwash, or gum can also make that feeling. 

Glossy Tongue 

A smooth or glossy tongue is the one with no small bumps. If you have a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or B vitamins, you may find your smooth tongue due to infections, celiac disease or side effects. If there are smooth patches around bumpy areas, it is the sign of a geographic tongue. They often burn or hurt and spots can also come and go. It doesn’t cause any harm but it may be linked to lichen planus or psoriasis. 

White Patches

It could be a sign of fungal infection. It usually happens when medications or illness leave the bacteria buildup in your mouth. Lichen planus are white patches looking lacy and your immune system also attacks tissues in the mouth. If there are flat, hard, and white areas that are not removed, it could be a sign of leukoplakia. If you see any white patches, ask your dentist. 

Hairy tongue 

Some of the common signs of hairy tongue are a black, white or brown furry coating. These are actually proteins that form longer strands from small bumps where bacteria and food are stuck. You can scrape or brush the tongue to remove them. If you cannot remove the white, hairy patches, it is the sign of hairy leukoplakia. It means you might be infected with HIV or Epstein-Barr virus. 

Black Tongue 

As the name suggests, the tongue turned black especially because you take an antacid containing bismuth. The tongue can get black stains when it is mixed with saliva. It doesn’t cause any harm and it fades automatically when you stop taking that medication. 

Bright Red Tongue 

If your tongue turned strawberry red, it could be the sign of a rare but serious illness, Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation on blood vessels around the body. It basically affects kids. It also shows scarlet fever. If it is smooth also and painful, there is a deficiency of vitamin B3.