There is a very famous proverb “Face is the index of mind”. If a person becomes happy, his face appears exuberant; when he is sad, his face becomes pale – and when he is angry his face becomes red; and, when he is depressed his face appears dull. Similarly, your tongue is the index of your health. For instance, pink color tongue covered with small papillae is an indicator of good health, whereas rough, patchy, discolored tongue and painful tongue can indicate a health issue – which can be less serious as fever, vitamin deficiency or can be more serious life-threatening oral cancer or immune-deficiency diseases such as AIDS. It is therefore, pertinent to have a proper knowledge about the health status of your tongue in order to know whether you have any serious health issue or not.
White Tongue Causes
Appearance of whitish coating on the tongue is known as leukoplakia. In this condition excessive growth of cells in the mouth cause the formation of white patches on the tongue – and also inside the mouth. Though the condition is not very serious, it can be a cancer trigger. If you notice such white patches on your tongue – and not pretty sure about the cause, then it is better to consult an ENT specialist or dentist. Be alert if you use tobacco, chew tobacco products or smoke and develop white patches because the condition develops if you irritate the tongue or use tobacco.
Yeast infection called candidiasis is an oral thrush. In this condition, white patches that are cottage cheese like in consistency appear on the surface of mouth and tongue. There are several causes of oral thrush including old age, diabetes, lung disease, usage of antibiotics and steroids, usage of dentures. People who use steroids for managing asthma and lung disease, elderly people who wear dentures, infants and immune-compromised individuals may develop oral thrush. Prolong usage of antibiotics eliminates good, normal microbial flora of the mouth – which may lead to the occurrence of oral thrush due to the growth of tongue infection causing bacteria and yeast.
Oral Lichen planus: In this condition, your tongue develops a network of white lines that are raised and appear lace-like. Though the actual cause of this type of tongue infection is not clear, you can still manage it with some lifestyle changes – such as brushing your teeth twice daily, maintaining proper oral hygiene, quitting smoking, avoiding tobacco and also the food that causes problems in your mouth.
Strawberry or Red Tongue
A tongue when normal appears pink, but some conditions can make it appear red rather than pink. In some conditions, the tongue appear swollen red, strawberry like with red and enlarged taste buds. In deficiency of vitamin B-12 and folic acid the tongue appears red. In a typical geographic tongue condition, map like reddish spots appear on the tongue. They are surrounded by white borders. Though the condition is not something to be worried about, yet you should consult your doctor if it persists for more than 2 weeks.
Scarlet Fever: In this type of tongue infection, high fever is associated with swollen reddish and strawberry like tongue. It is better to immediately seek medical attention as the condition may be due to scarlet fever.
Kawasaki’s syndrome: Children below age five years develop a condition called Kawasaki’s syndrome. The typical symptoms include strawberry tongue and high fever, swelling on face, hands and feet with redness.
Black hairy tongue is a condition in which some people develop long hairy papillae appearing like hair. Such overgrown papillae harbour bacteria and cause symptoms – which are often irritating and uncomfortable. Though the condition is not common, it is mostly seen in people who do not practice good oral and dental hygiene; who are ill, use antibiotics; and who are diabetic and receiving chemotherapy.
Yogurt is good for your health and also for your oral health as it helps in restoring the normal microbial fauna of your mouth. In addition, your doctor can prescribe medicines to treat the infection. Though there are several causes for your tongue problems, majority of them are not serious and therefore, can be addressed quite diligently – provided you approach to an ENT specialist at the earliest.