What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

You don’t often hear people asking about your tongue. I know, kind of creepy, right? As off putting as it may seem, it’s important to talk about your tongue in relation to health. The look of it not only says a lot about the state of your mouth, but your body as a whole. Let’s talk about things your tongue says about your health. Does your tongue have a white coating? What do red spots say?  What does it mean when your tongue has hair on it? We’re talking all that and more.

1.Red Spots

Finding red spots anywhere on your body can be alarming. It’s even scarier when they’re on your tongue. Redness on the tongue can signal several different health issues ranging from mild to severe. For one, it can indicate that you’re not getting the right vitamins. Your diet dictates so much about your health. A folic acid or vitamin b12 deficiency will have your tongue looking really red. There’s also something known as geographic tongue. It sounds pretty silly, I know. This is when numerous red spots appear on your tongue out of nowhere. They form a map-like appearance on the surface and are usually connected in some way. The patches have a white border around them, and sometimes move location. Keep in mind that they’re normally harmless.

A red tongue can also signal scarlet fever, an illness that develops when you have strep throat. This infection causes your tongue to look red and bumpy, like a strawberry. This is something you’ll need antibiotics for.

Getting more to the extreme side of things, a red tongue can also mean you have Kawasaki disease. This is when a person’s red blood cells become inflamed. The disease usually causes your tongue to puff up. This will also have it looking like a strawberry. Now if you’re an adult, you don’t really have to worry. If you have children however, you do. Kawasaki disease usually occurs in children under the age of five. If your kid has these symptoms alongside a high fever, go to the doctor ASAP.

2.White Spots

Red spots are scary enough. When your tongue appears whiter than usual, it’s a whole different bag of issues. We’ve all noticed the surface of our tongue turn oddly white. It’s worse for some people than others.

Let’s talk about thrush for a minute. Yes, thrush. The name might sound funny, but it can be a real pain to deal with. Thrush is the name of a fungal infection that grows on your mouth, throat, and parts of your body. Just as a warning, it gets pretty gross. When developing thrush on your tongue, you’ll notice thick white patches forming on the surface. Experts describe these white patches as looking similar to cottage cheese. This is known as oral thrush. While it’s most common with infants and the elderly, an adult suffering from diabetes can also get it.

Outside of thrush, white spots can be a sign of leukoplakia, which happens when the tongue has become irritated. if you’re a smoker, look out for this. While leukoplakia isn’t that dangerous on its own, it can also serve as a symptom of cancer. On top of spots and patches, you may also notice strange white lines on your tongue. This is usually a sign of oral lichen planus. While the appearance of random white lines might make you afraid, there’s still no exact explanation for them.

3.Black and Hairy

This is where it can get really alarming. Fortunately, it’s nothing too crazy. It’s just the appearance is enough to give you the creeps. We’ve all noticed mild redness and whiteness on our tongues. Usually it’s something fairly minor. A black and hairy tongue on the other hand is something that isn’t as common. “Am I morphing into some kind of monster? Was I bitten by a radioactive bug or something?” These are all possibilities that would run through your mind.

Let’s talk about papillae for a second. Papillae are small bumps found on the top and side of your tongue. They’re hard to spot since the tongue and the papillae are usually the same color. But like other parts of your body, papillae grow as you age. If they get too big, bacteria will start to form. if the papillae develop too much bacteria, it will look pretty freaky. You might start noticing strange black spots on your tongue. These are infected papillae, which have become overgrown and hair-like.

Excessive bacteria isn’t something to be excited over. But at the same time, you shouldn’t stress over it. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. A black and hairy tongue is usually just a product of poor dental hygiene. If you haven’t been taking care of your teeth, a black and hairy tongue should serve as a wake-up call. You can use electric toothbrush, water flosser and tongue scraper for keeping good oral health. There are extreme circumstances you need to consider. A tongue like this might mean you have diabetes. It can also be a side effect if you’ve been taking certain medicines, as well as chemotherapy. Whether it’s minor or serious, you should go see a doctor just to be safe.

4.Gross Looking Sores

We’ve all heard about sores on the tongue. If you took a certain class in high school, you know what tongue sores can spell out. Sores on the tongue are pretty disturbing. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different sensations. While many people might associate them with various diseases and infections, there’s more to it than that.

Do you smoke cigarettes? If so, quit. Sure, they’re bad for you in general. But in the case of your mouth, they invite annoying sores. That cigarette you just had is irritating your tongue. This will cause sores to pop up. These usually go away within the span of a couple weeks. If they last longer than that, it should raise concern. Get to a doctor as quick as you can.

Sores that last a while might be signs of oral cancer. What makes it worse is that these sores are pretty sneaky. They don’t really come from a feeling of extreme pain. Most sores on your tongue are painless in the beginning. The discomfort only develops as time goes on. Since you won’t notice pain right away, be sure to check your tongue in the mirror for any abnormalities. Do this on a regular basis.

There are also more practical reasons for sores on the tongue. Biting your tongue can leave extreme sores on the surface. The pain is also enough to kill. Burning your tongue will also cause trauma. We’ve all sipped our coffee a little too early. This makes your tongue swell up. Clenching your teeth can also put unwanted stress on your tongue. You can try this night guard for preventing clenching.

On top of that, there’s something else you should consider. Let’s talk about canker sores for a second. Canker sores are a type of ulcer that forms on the inside of your mouth. This can be on the base of your gums, or on the side of your cheek. They also appear on the surface of your tongue. Unlike cold sores, cankers don’t form on the surface of your lips. They’re also not contagious like cold sores. While most cankers are really irritating, some are also extremely painful. The causes behind canker sores are up for debate. Most people link the development of these sores to stress. An injury may also contribute. Cankers will normally heal within a couple of weeks. You don’t typically need any treatment or medications. if they last longer than the standard two weeks, talk to a doctor.

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