The tongue is one of the most important sensory organs of our body that allows us to taste. Human tongues can be of different shapes, sizes, colors, or textures. So it is important to ensure that your tongue is healthy because experts say that a healthy tongue reveals that your health is at an optimum.
Tongue Problems and Related Health Issues:
The tongue is one of the five sensory organs of our body that allows us to taste and talk. The taste buds and tiny nodules known as papillae present on the rough surface of the tongue primarily induce the sensations of taste. The tongue is often referred to as the strongest muscle in your entire body. But the tongue is also made up of a number of other important muscles that regulate several functions of the tongue like speaking, swallowing, and tasting. If your tongue is typically healthy, that is, it is pink in color with the regular-sized papillae, without showing any particular problems like soreness or any abnormal colors or textures then it is considered by medical practitioners that your overall health is normal.
Since our tongue is constantly used for purposes like talking, tasting, and swallowing, it might develop some kinds of problems and may further result in conditions like:
- Symptoms of pain
- Burning sensation
- Lumps and abnormal bumps
- Sores with irritation
- Discoloration or abnormal changes in the pinkish color of the tongue, ranging from white to black
- Irregular patches and spots
- Changes in tongue texture (ranging from abnormal roughness to abnormal smoothness)
Types of Tongue Abnormalities:
When there are some health-related problems or some oral disorders, the first symptom appears on your tongue, as the color of your tongue changes from normal pink. The different occurrences of tongue colors are listed below:
1. Red Tongue
Your tongue surface tends to become red in color when there is a deficiency of vitamin B complex in your body or if you are suffering from diseases like scarlet fever, eczema, and Kawasaki disease. These cases might prove to be quite adverse to your health, so you should always seek medical support in such cases.
2. Bright red Tongue
Apart from being crimson red, your tongue can sometimes become blazing bright red in color, which is often referred to as strawberry-red tongue. This is also considered as an early symptom of Kawasaki disease, a rare, vascular inflammatory vascular disease of the body that is most common among children and can also occur due to possibilities of diseases like scarlet fever. Your tongue can even become bright red in color if your body has a deficiency of vitamin B3.
3. Purple Tongue
When your tongue turns from normal pink to purple color, then you are likely to have been suffering from heart and cardio-vascular-related problems, along with acute circulatory disorders. Some experts say that the purple tongue among children can also be a symptom of Kawasaki disease.
4. Blue Tongue
Your tongue may turn blue in color if your body has disorders in the circulatory system. Experts opine that the early symptom of faulty oxygen carriage through the blood circulatory system is the discoloration of the tongue that eventually turns blue in color. Besides, blue coloration of the tongue can be a symptom of lung and kidney dysfunction too.
5. Yellow Tongue
Yellow coloration of your tongue can occur due to many reasons. Some of them can be excessive smoking and chewing tobacco, jaundice, psoriasis, and so on.
6. Gray Tongue
It is often found that tongues tend to turn gray due to some severe hidden digestive issues in your body like peptic and stomach ulcers and other symptoms like eczema.
7. White Tongue
The surface of the tongue often tends to develop white-colored patches, lines, and spots that make it look white in color and lacy. According to dentists, this condition may occur due to symptoms like oral thrush, several types of fungal and bacterial infections leukoplakia, or oral lichen planus type of diseases. Sometimes leukoplakia may become cancerous. Such type conditions on your tongue might be severe for your health. So, it is advisable to seek advice from your dentist or a registered medical practitioner.
8. Brown Tongue
Brown coloration of your tongue is often considered to be almost safe and harmless. Your tongue turns pink to brown color mainly because it takes the color of what you eat and drink. However, it has been suggested by medical practitioners that excessive smoking and the use of tobacco and other drugs can cause discoloration of the tongue, turning it brown. The brown color of the tongue in some cases can also be a symptom of severe diseases like oral cancer.
9. Black Tongue
It is sometimes seen that the color of the tongue changes from pink to dark brown and then to black. This is a harmful condition that signifies serious ailments in your body like diabetes mellitus and may also result from poor oral hygiene. Sometimes the nodules on your tongue surface can multiply and look hairy which brings the abnormal hairy black color of the tongue. Often the tongue color changes to black after the consumption of bismuth-containing antacids.
Tongue hairs Tongue: Sometimes your tongue becomes hairy and forms a type of coating-like substance that is black, brown, or white in color and has a furry texture that are proteins where food and bacteria get caught. This type of hairy texture on the tongue surface can be early signs of oral leukoplakia or the result of infection from viruses like Epstein-Barr or HIV. It is important to brush thoroughly and maintain oral hygiene in these cases and one should undoubtedly take the suggestions of a medical caregiver.
Apart from the above discolorations in your tongue, there might be other symptoms related to abnormal changes in texture:
10. Abnormally Smooth Tongue
An abnormally smooth tongue may result from the lack of enough nutrients like iron, folic acid, or vitamin B complex in your body or due to several kinds of viral infections, celiac disease, some kinds of medications side effects, or in worst cases from psoriasis or lichen planus.
11. Bumps on Tongue Surface
Unnatural small, reddish bumps on your tongue surface can be extremely painful. This may be due to lingual papillitis, some viral and bacterial infections, or oral cancer. You should not neglect these symptoms; it is advisable to seek medical help in these cases.
12. Big Tongue
In some cases, it has been found that the tongue is too big compared to the rest of your mouth. This leads to the friction of the tongue and teeth, and you should consult your dentist to treat hypothyroidism, an infection, or allergies, among several people.
13. Fissure on Tongue Surface
Chances of occurrences of deep groove-like fissures increase with age. If you find fissures developing on your tongue, then you are likely to suffer from diseases like Down syndrome, psoriasis, and Sjögren’s syndrome. You should seek medical treatment to get rid of this condition.
Sore Tongue: Soreness in your tongue can occur due to a lot of reasons. When you accidentally bite your tongue, you tend to hurt the vulnerable sensory nerves that are present on the surface of the tongue. Sores often occur on the tongue surface due to oral thrush, infections from lichen planus, and some canker sores that are likely to cause severe pain and irritation on the tongue surface. This type of soreness with lumps of red and white patches on the tongue surface can either be the early signs of bacterial and fungal infections or oral cancer. In such cases, you should see your dentist immediately.
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