Before we get into the nitty gritty, go to the mirror and stick out your tongue. We want you to pay attention to 2 characteristics: the color of your tongue and the texture of it. So what exactly do you see? Well make some notes (or take a quick selfie) and continue reading the info below to determine what your health issues are… if any!
1. A WHITE tongue
If this describes your tongue, it could be one of the following:
- A yeast infection that develops in the mouth is called oral thrush and is recognized with white patches similar to cottage cheese (hope you aren’t eating your lunch right now!). While it is commonly seen in the elderly, infants, and those with a weak immune system, those with diabetes and those taking inhaled steroids can also be afflicted. Talk to your doc.
- If you use tobacco products, you could get a condition called leukoplakia which is basically when the cells in your mouth grow excessively, leading to white patches on the tongue and in the mouth. It’s worth discussing with your dentist - but not so serious.
- Raised white lines on your tongue (resembling lace) could indicate oral lichen planus, a condition that isn’t serious and generally resolves on its own in due time.
2. A RED tongue
If this describes your tongue, it could be the following:
- If your tongue is bright red with bumps like a strawberry and you have a fever, you better visit your physician immediately because you could have scarlet fever and need antibiotic treatment.
- A very red tongue could also indicate your body is deficient in folic acid and vitamin B-12. Be sure to check your levels.
- A pattern of red spots all over your tongue resembling a map-like pattern with a white border around them could mean you have a geographic tongue. This condition is generally harmless but is worth checking out as well.
- Kawasaki syndrome is a condition usually seen in kids less than 5 years of age. The tongue has a strawberry type of look and is accompanied by fever, so immediate medical attention is a must.
3. A BLACK and HAIRY Tongue?
Yes, you read correctly! If your tongue is black and hairy it could mean this:
- First off, no need to be alarmed! This condition is quite rare (luckily so!). It is a condition that usually occurs in those who don’t follow a stringent dental hygiene routine. So if someone has long papillae on their tongue (and it continues to grow excessively long), and this is combined with plenty of bacteria, the tongue can appear dark or even black!
- In addition, someone taking antibiotics, receiving chemotherapy, or even diabetics could develop a black and hairy tongue. Not dangerous, but not very pretty.
4. A SORE and BUMPY tongue
This could imply:
- Irritation from your smoking habits.
- You possibly are a teeth grinder which could irritate the sides of your tongue leading to pain and soreness.
- A sore on the tongue could indicate a canker sore, something that is generally known to develop during times of stress.
- In serious cases, a strange sore or lump on your tongue could indicate oral cancer if it doesn’t go away for a lengthy amount of time. It is always best to consult your physician.
So keep tabs on your tongue’s status! Anyways, you should be brushing it on a daily basis… so monitoring shouldn’t be hard to do. And when it comes to sores, strange colors, or odd textures that do not go away after 2 weeks, it is strictly advised to seek medical attention to ensure everything is A-okay!