Problems of the Tongue

What are the different problems of the tongue?

There are quite a few problems related to the tongue, a few of which could cause concern. However, most cases are treatable at home. Conditions like discoloured tongue, hairy tongue, fungal infections and Ankyloglossia are not uncommon. Their treatment depends on what caused them.

What are their causes and concerns?

Some common problems associated with the tongue and their causes are:

  • Hairy tongue – is caused by an overgrowth of a hair-like substance on the tongue, making it appear fuzzy. This condition usually occurs in a small area of the tongue and is caused by inadequate oral hygiene, smoking, chewing tobacco or lack of saliva (dry mouth)
  • Fungal infections – are caused due to yeast (Candida albicans). It is commonly referred to as “thrush”. It can develop due to the use of antibiotics or hormonal changes among pregnant women. Even babies and young children may develop it since they are prone to putting anything in their mouth, inviting all kinds of germs and fungi. Infants and children are at the highest risk of developing thrush.
  • Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) – is caused when the frenulum (located under the tongue in the centre) is attached to the tongue, leading to decreased mobility of the tip of the tongue. Commonly observed among newborns and children, this condition is often overlooked by doctors and parents. Due to this, the child may not breastfeed or take the bottle, which leads to weight loss or inability to gain weight.

The course of treatment for tongue problems depends on the cause. Simple home remedies can take care of most cases, while some cases may require medical attention. However, it is important to stay calm when one notices any such conditions in their child and not jump to conclusions. For example, when you see that your child’s tongue is a different colour than it should be, ask them what he or she has eaten or drunk before panicking about the situation. Sucking on a red popsicle might make your child’s tongue appear bright red, but a parent might panic upon seeing this and think something is wrong. 

What are their symptoms?

Some signs and symptoms of tongue conditions can be warning signs of more significant problems, which should not be ignored. Some of these are:

  • A patchy, discoloured tongue (geographic tongue)
  • White patches on the tongue (thrush)
  • Trouble moving the tongue from side to side (tongue-tied)
  • A V-shaped notch on the tip of the tongue (tongue-tied)
  • Inability to touch the roof of the mouth with the tongue (tongue-tied)
  • Inability to stick the tongue out any further than the upper gums(tongue-tied)
  • A hairy appearing tongue (hairy tongue)
  • A bright red tongue (certain infections)
  • Sore mouth and sores on the tongue (could indicate oral cancer)
  • Swelling of the tongue (an allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention)

What are the solutions and treatment options?

Our nose and mouth specialists are trained in dealing with all kinds of related illnesses. They can guide you with respect to a treatment plan if you show any serious symptoms like the ones listed above. In most cases, though, tongue illnesses are easily treated at home. Brushing the tongue once a day with a soft brush, using warm water can help with problems like thrush and hairy tongue.

In conclusion

Medical attention is recommended if you are facing persistent tongue problems. Please do not ignore them! Book an appointment with us so that our doctors can evaluate your condition and help you feel better!

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