Diagnosis: Oral thrush or yeast infection.
The yeast Candida albicans also found in female vaginal yeast infections may also infect the mouth. It may spread from your tongue, tonsils and other parts of the mouth. People who are in an immunosuppressed state such as those in Chemotherapy, Diabetics, taking antibiotics or immune system disorders are prone to this. Thrush is a simple yeast infection but don’t let it get severe! Your normal antibiotics don’t work against it or oral antifungal medications. Look for a specialist ASAP!
#2 Scattered white patches
Leukoplakia can grow on both tongue and gums and is usually an early indicator of oral cancers. They are lesions with white plaques that are often painful. This is commonly seen in heavy and long-term smokers. Consult your doctor right away.
#3 White with smooth pattern or film
Diagnosis: Lack of oral hygiene!
Is your tongue covered in thin white film but does not hurt at all? It just indicates you may be slacking off with that oral hygiene! You can see this in children too especially if they are still milk-drinkers. Just brush that tongue and all’s good!
#4 Smooth Red tongue
Diagnosis: Vitamin B12 deficiency and/or anemia
So a smooth red tongue is ideal and healthy right? NOPE! A very smooth tongue is also abnormal. Remember that our tongue needs to have those small bumps in its surface called the papillae which helps us taste our food. In cases of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, these papillae shrink. This may be common among vegetarians due to lack of all nutrients found in meat. Having this condition makes the tongue sensitive to hot foods, and may easily feel scalded or burnt.
#5 Red inflamed tongue (Strawberry tongue appearance)
Diagnosis: Kawasaki disease or Scarlet fever
This condition is far more commonly seen in children than in adults. It is also likely that it comes with other symptoms that are a cause for concern for your child such as high fever and rashes. Scarlet fevers are mild and is only a bacterial infection that can be easily treated. It is the other disease associated with this condition, Kawasaki disease that is deadlier. So if you notice your kid with unusually red tongue with inflamed papillae, consult a pediatrician immediately.
#6 Purple tongue
Diagnosis: Blood circulation problems
So you didn’t drink Kool-Aid or had any grape or any other violet-colored foods, but your tongue is purple. This actually can signify a lot of different things but the main culprit mainly lies on your blood circulation. There may be problems with blood flow that makes the tongue deoxygenated or lacking in oxygen carried by blood. Some of the known causes of blood circulation problems are high cholesterol and hypertension, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, and even end-stage terminal illnesses. Consultation with specialists is a must!
#7 Black hairy tongue
Diagnosis: BHT (Black Hairy Tongue Syndrome) or Lingua Villosa Nigra
Okay so this one seems pretty hardcore right? And even the name is so scary! So is this condition deadly? Apparently not. BHT or black hairy tongue is not really life threatening. It just results from the overgrowth of papillae and then it becomes colonized by bacteria. Normally, papillae don’t grow very long, but in cases such as prolonged tobacco use, chronic heavy coffee drinking, dryness of mouth or dehydration, use of certain medications, and poor oral hygiene overgrowth and discoloration may result.
#8 Persistent red big or small lesions
Diagnosis: Tongue cancer
This is actually the one you must worry about. Normally in the earlier stages, these persistent, never healing and aggravating lesions may not present with any pain at all. Later on the lesion progress into tumors. Chronic heavy smoking is again found to be a major predisposing factor. Consult a doctor immediately when you see this condition.
Do not mistake this with canker sores (mouth or tongue sores)!
Differentiate the two lesions. Canker sores or cold sore may occur when we are stressed, had a little too much smooching and some HPV infection. It usually resolves by its own, and is only small sized and is not disseminated, though it can be painful.
#10 Wrinkles and cracks
Believe it or not, it’s not only on the skin that aging can show, even in our tongues too! A wrinkly and cracked or fissured tongue may occur during old age. It is normally a harmless condition despite the unappealing appearance. It only becomes harmful when bacteria develop on the cracks resulting to painful sensations on the tongue, and foul smell. Maintain oral hygiene to prevent this. If you are already using implants or dentures, make sure these are also routinely cleaned or replaced and not harboring massive bacteria in it already.
#11 Pinkish, with hills and valleys
Diagnosis: Normal tongue
Congratulations! You have nothing to worry about so far. If your tongue is healthy looking with the occasional grooves and normal sized papillae, then you are fine. Continue maintaining oral hygiene! :)
So pay more attention to your tongue next time, they may say more than you think! And if you are gonna lock lips and tongue with someone, maybe it also pays to inspect first!
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