Community

secrets your tongue reveals about your health

Bright Redness

bright red tongue

A healthy person’s tongue is usually pink in color. When the tongue takes on a brighter red color, it can be a sign of various conditions, such as anemia, Kawasaki disease and scarlet fever.

A bright red tongue could be a symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency. The body requires vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. A deficiency can cause fatigue and anemia.

A bright red tongue, initially manifesting itself in the form of red spots or patches, was identified as one of the key physical symptoms in a person diagnosed with anemia, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association.

White, Creamy Layer or Patches

white creamy layer on tongue

A white, cottage cheese-like coating on the tongue, which usually occurs in patches and may be accompanied by lesions, is one of the most common symptoms of oral candidiasis, a yeast infection of the mouth.

It most commonly occurs in the elderly, infants and those with compromised immunity.

The infection results from an overgrowth of yeast on the tongue, usually caused by certain medications (such as birth control pills and antibiotics), obesity or health conditions like a weak immune system, psoriasis and diabetes.

When properly treated, oral candidiasis does not last long.

However, it can also persist for years. Chronic oral candidiasis can indicate an underlying, serious immune system disease, such as HIV or leukemia.

Abnormal Smoothness

abnormal smoothness on tongue

A normal tongue has tiny hair-like structures (papillae) on its surface that make it rough. A smooth tongue (completely or in patches) devoid of such roughness is abnormal. This condition is called atrophic glossitis.

The smooth tongue may also be accompanied by pain, tenderness and a burning sensation.

Atrophic glossitis is usually associated with a nutritional deficiency of some kind.

In a 2012 study of 176 atrophic glossitis patients, 38 had a high risk of developing blood vessel diseases, 47 had an iron deficiency, 39 had a hemoglobin deficiency, 13 had a vitamin B12 deficiency and 3 had a folic acid deficiency. The study was published in the Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine.

Painless Bump(s)

painless bumps on tongue

A painless bump that appears on the side of the tongue and goes away in two weeks or less is not cause for alarm. However, if it persists longer than that, it could be an early sign of oral cancer.

This bump is likely to be small and either white or red in color. It might prevent you from using your tongue too much or swallowing with ease.

Erithoplakia (a red patch or a slightly raised bump) is a symptom of mouth cancer that may occur on the surface of the tongue and may or may not be accompanied by a white bump, according to a 2011 study published in the Australian Dental Journal.

If you are a regular smoker, especially a chain smoker, you need to pay attention to this seemingly harmless symptom.