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Common Tongue Problems

Common Tongue Problems

The tongue is among the five sense organs of our body and is one of the most used muscles. Hence, even a small tongue problem may be annoying and discomforting. Let's find out some of the common tongue problems in this article.
Niharika Arya
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
The tongue is the strongest muscle in our body. It helps in many functions like tasting, eating and swallowing food and talking. The surface of the tongue has small nodules called the papillae and in between them there are numerous taste buds. The entire tongue is covered with mucous membranes and a healthy tongue is generally pink in color. The movement of the tongue helps us in talking, chewing and swallowing food. As it is one of the most commonly used organs of the body even a small bump on your tongue can cause you many difficulties in speaking and eating food.

Common Tongue Problems with Possible Causes

Tongue problems are usually not serious and can be cured by following some simple treatments. But the discomfort caused by them specially in case of eating and talking may be irritating. Hence it's important to identify the problems as soon as possible in order to get them treated. There are many tongue conditions which are associated with some or the other problems. Some may get over on their own like the geographic tongue whereas some may require proper treatment like mouth ulcers. Following are some of the common problems which can be faced due to various reasons.

Tongue Problems

Tongue Swelling/ Enlargement

Description: Disorders like down syndrome, acromegaly, myxedema, amyloidosis, rhabdomyoma, etc. may result in swollen tongue. This can create problems specially while speaking. Even people who don't have teeth and do not wear dentures may develop a wider tongue.

Causes: Acromegaly, allergic reaction to food or medicine, leukemia, lymphangioma, neurofibromatosis, pellagra, pernicious anemia, amyloidosis, angioedema, beckwith syndrome, tongue cancer, congenital micrognathia, down syndrome, hypothyroidism, infection, strep infection, pituitary gland tumor, etc. are some of the causes of enlarged tongue.

Taste Buds Problems

Description: Taste buds play a very important role in tasting different items. They are capable of distinguishing and identifying sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastes. But damage caused to the taste buds may result in the inability to sense the tastes.

Causes: Damage to the taste buds, nerve problems, side effects of medications, infection, etc. are some of the possible causes of taste abnormalities.

Color Change

Description: The normal color of the tongue is pink but due to many reasons the color changes to pale pink, white, red, etc. This color change may be due to inflammation of tongue which is known as glossitis. You can usually notice color change in the people who have geographic tongue. It may be observed as red patches with a white border.

Causes: Causes behind color change may be inflammation of the tongue, geographic tongue, local irritation, smoking, alcohol, folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiency, pellagra, pernicious anemia, plummer-Vinson syndrome, sprue, etc.

Problems with Tongue Movement

Description : There may be many problems with the movement of the tongue which may cause problem while speaking and moving food for chewing and swallowing. The tongue may become stiff and stuck and may be unable to move.

Causes: The possible causes may be Ankyloglossia which is a disorder in which the tissue bands which are attached to the floor of the mouth are short. It may also be caused due to nerve damage.

Hairy Tongue

Description : Tongue may be observed as very hairy or furry. The hair may even be black in color which can be easily noticed and may be scary in appearance. This condition can be treated with the help of antibiotics.

Causes: Hairy tongue may be observed due to AIDS, antibiotic therapy, drinking coffee, dyes, overuse of mouthwashes containing oxidizing agents, tobacco and some chronic medical conditions.

Black or Brown Color Tongue

Description: The upper surface of the tongue may turn black or brown due to some unknown reasons. It may bring some embarrassment but it is not harmful.

Causes: Unknown

Pain and Burning Sensation

Description: Pain may be experienced due to many reasons which may cause difficulty in the tongue movement. During menopause, women may experience burning sensation which goes off on its own.

Causes: Possible causes of tongue pain are anemia, cancer, dentures that irritate the tongue, tongue ulcers, neuralgia, pain from teeth and gums, etc.

These were some of the problems related to the tongue. The problems are treated according to the causes. The conditions may be controlled with the help of medications and treatments. So, if you are facing any of the problems mentioned in this article then consult a doctor accordingly.