What Is Your Tongue Telling You About Your Health?

From white spots to red bumps, a number of diseases can show up on your tongue. Here’s what to know about tongue pain and tongue disease.

The shape, colour, coating, and texture of the tongue can all indicate digestive issues and body imbalances. A healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small nodules. Any deviation from your tongue’s normal appearance, may be cause for concern.

Tongue Colour:

  • A red tongue may indicate fever or a hormonal imbalance that is leading to temperature changes.
  • A purple tongue is a sign that the circulatory system is backed up and that there may be inflammation or infection.
  • A pale tongue is a sign of a deficiency or a lack of energy. This is common with anemia or after a long-standing disease where the immune system is weak.

Tongue Coating:

  • A thick coating reflects a more serious condition and poor gut health.
  • A thin coating is normal, but a very thin or absent tongue coating means a lack of body fluids.
  • A yellow coating signals infection in the body.
  • A grey or black coating indicates that something is very wrong with the body’s health.
  • A thick white coating means there is poor circulation to the extremities and possibly Candida, a yeast infection You’re at a higher risk of developing this condition if you’re on antibiotics, have diabetes, are on chemotherapy, inhale steroids to treat asthma. Candida is usually very treatable with an anti-fungal swish-and-spit liquid or pill.

Tongue Shape:

  • If the tongue is puffy with scalloped edges, it indicates a lack of nutrient absorption; there could be toxic buildup in the body.
  • A very thin tongue could indicate dehydration or that a chronic condition has left the body severely depleted.

Tongue Texture:

  • Bumps on your tongue can be canker sores and herpes, both of which go away on their own but can be treated to speed healing. For canker sores, you can use an over-the-counter ointment, avoid spicy and acidic foods, and gargle with baking soda and water. For herpes, a prescription anti-viral pill is needed.
  • A white or gray lesion with a hard surface that feels thick and raised from the tongue could be leukoplakia, a disorder of the mucous membranes caused by irritation from dentures, crowns, fillings, or tobacco use.
  • Black and Hairy-Looking can be benign. It’s sometimes associated with antibiotic use, a yeast infection, diabetes,cancer therapies, or poor oral hygiene. It happens when the cells on your tongue grow faster than your body can shed them.
  • Wrinkled: A tongue that bears grooves, wrinkles, or furrows could be scrotal tongue, it can be difficult to keep the tongue properly clean.
  • A sore or lump on one side of the tongue could be a sign of cancer and needs to be checked by a doctor.
  • Any burning, intense pain, loss of sensation, or inability to move the tongue properly should be looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.
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