A sore tongue is one of the several frustrating problems that affects many people, irrespective of the age group. While a healthy tongue appears pink and shows the presence of small papillae, a sore tongue is tender and at times, covered with small painful bumps. In general, a sore tongue is manifested as a referred sign of other medical conditions, rather than a disease by itself. Hence, the causes differ as per the underlying medical problem.
What Causes Tongue Soreness?
A sore tongue is often developed due to deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals in the body. To be more precise, it is more common amongst individuals who have a poor diet plan. Frequent smoking is also a trigger for this tongue problem, as it involves inhalation of toxic fumes and chemicals that ultimately irritate the tongue. Besides nutrient insufficiency and smoking, a sore and painful tongue can be caused due to many factors, of which some are mentioned below.
Tongue Injury: One of the common causes of a sore tongue is injury and constant irritation of the tongue. In some cases, accidental biting of the tongue while eating food or talking is the main reason for causing a sore tongue. At times, the papillae of the tongue may enlarge and get inflamed, resulting in soreness and pain symptoms.
Mouth Infection: Infection of the oral portion by bacteria, yeast, and virus can also lead to burning sensation and soreness of the tongue, accompanied with painful sensation. As with any other cases of infection, the risk of a sore tongue due to infection is higher among those who have a compromised immune system.
Canker Sore: Painful tongue soreness can be a sign of a canker sore that causes ulceration of the mouth and tongue. The symptoms of canker sores are more painful, when the patient is under stress. With certain home remedies and over-the-counter medicine, a sore tongue related to canker sore can be treated effectively.
Dental Problem: Dental problems and lack of oral hygiene may result in tongue soreness. Risk factors for frequent episodes include poor dental fixtures and presence of plaque. An individual with dental plaque tends to rub and grind the teeth, which in turn causes irritation, particularly at the tip. Likewise, poor dental fixtures irritate the tongue and cause soreness.
Oral Cancer: Though a sore tongue is often reported as a mild problem, it is also manifested as a symptom of oral cancer. It is to be borne in mind that oral cancer is asymptomatic in the early stages, which worsen and become symptomatic in the later stages. Hence, do not neglect a sore tongue, if it does not heal within a week.
Health Conditions: As mentioned already, a sore tongue can be developed as a sign of some other diseases. Medical problems that may result in soreness of tongue are heart disease, diabetes, anemia, and AIDS. Considering this fact, correct diagnosis is very important, especially, if it is associated with other suspected symptoms.
Sore Tongue Symptoms and Treatment
The most notable symptoms are pain, loss of taste, and increased sensitivity to hot and spicy food items. An individual having the same problem may face difficulty in eating, swallowing, and talking. Majority of the cases are short-term and free of serious health complications. In fact, a sore tongue usually subsides on its own after a few days without requiring therapeutic intervention. Nevertheless, a painful and prolonged tongue condition should not be neglected, as it can be a referred sign of other medical problems.
Treatment depends on the underlying causes or the diseases responsible for the tongue condition. For example, a sore tongue caused due to nutrient deficiency will resolve after administration of nutritional supplements and consumption of a balanced diet. As smoking triggers and causes tongue soreness, refraining from smoking makes sense to address it and prevent future incidences. The best treatment option is to avoid the causes by following correct dental care, oral hygiene, and making healthy lifestyle changes.