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Tongue Diseases

The following article presents a quick overview on some of the common tongue diseases.
Kalpana Kumari
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Insufficient dental hygiene, smoking, chewing tobacco, and genetic inheritance can give rise to numerous tongue diseases. Some of them may be restricted to the tongue, while some may spread to other parts such as lips, throat, palate, mouth, etc. The symptoms of such ailments commonly include swelling, redness, pain, soreness, and discoloration.
Common Tongue Diseases
Oral Candidiasis
It is a fungal infection, which is mostly caused a yeast called Candida albicans. Other less common causative agents are Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis. When it occurs on the mucous membrane of the mouth, it is known as oral candidiasis. The identifying symptoms are appearance of thick white or cream-colored deposits on the surface of tongue. The infection may appear red and a bit raised from the normal level.
Oral candidiasis causes a burning sensation and a lot of discomfort. It is treated with antifungal drugs. The patient is asked to use this oral suspension to wash around the mouth and swallow. In some severe cases, the medicine may be administered intravenously on the tongue.
It is a disease the involves the formation of a white spot or patch on the mucous membrane in the mouth. The common mouth parts that develop this ailment are tongue and gums. If not treated on time, leukoplakia may lead to cancer. The tongue patches cannot be easily scraped off. The common causes of this disease are smoking and chewing tobacco. In majority of the cases, this ailment is harmless.
Keratosis Pharyngis
It occurs when the protein called keratin grows at the pharynx. No treatment is known till date for this ailment. The identifying symptoms are pain at the back of the throat and difficulty in swallowing.
It is one of those diseases that is quite rare, and is marked by incomplete development of the tongue. It may occur either as a single disorder or in company with other deformities. One of the disorders, which is mostly found accompanying hypoglossia is the oromandibular limb hypogenesis syndrome due to genetic abnormality.
The inflammation of the tongue is medically termed as glossitis. The characteristic symptoms are swelling, discoloration, and abnormal smoothing of the tongue. The factors that can lead to glossitis are viral and bacterial infections, poor hydration, mechanical irritation, tongue piercing, allergic reactions to chemical irritants, malnutrition (especially the deficiency of iron and vitamin B), and genetic predisposition. The goal of the treatment for glossitis is to cure the inflammation. This is possible by curing the underlying factor of the inflammation, and subsequently reducing the discomfort. Generally, drugs containing corticosteroids are used to reduce the symptoms of glossitis, such as redness and swelling.
The diagnosis of these ailments includes physical examination and blood work. The data obtained from blood work helps in determining the deficiencies of nutrients that can cause these diseases. Many times, the methods of treatment for them are short term. Following a healthy diet to have a strong immune system will reduce the risk of developing them in future.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.