Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

Lifestyle & community

April 18, 2019 12:20 By Fabiosa

If you come to think of it, the tongue plays a key role in life. We need it for chewing food, tasting, and speaking. What also makes the tongue so important is that newborn babies use it for suckling mother’s milk.

Besides, this organ is an indicator of our health. What problems can it reveal?

What can tongue changes say about your health?

1. White spots

Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

Most often, white spots on the tongue are not a symptom of a serious problem and are more associated with oral hygiene. In rare cases, however, they can indicate dangerous conditions, such as cancer at an early stage.

Other causes of white spots on the tongue include:

  • dehydration;
  • eating large amounts of soft food;
  • dry mouth;
  • smoking or drinking alcohol;
  • a fever.

2. Black (“hairy”) tongue

Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

Despite the frightening appearance, it is not a sign of something serious either. And what looks like hairs are, in fact, enlarged projections on the surface of the organ that retain pieces of food, which contributes to the accumulation of microbes and bacteria.

This condition can be caused by poor oral hygiene, insufficient salivation, a liquid diet, or it could be a side effect from taking certain medications.

3. Bright red tongue

Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

This may be an early sign of Kawasaki disease, a rare and serious disease characterized by lesions of the coronary and other blood vessels. Most often it occurs in children. Also, the strawberry-red color of the tongue may be an indicator of vitamin B3 deficiency or symptom of scarlet fever.

4. Bumps on the tongue

Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

Fungal papillae (small bumps on the top and sides of the tongue) may enlarge for various reasons.

In most cases, there is no cause for concern. However, this phenomenon can also be a sign of very serious conditions and diseases, including:

  • lingual papillitis;
  • aphthous ulcers;
  • squamous papilloma;
  • scarlet fever;
  • mouth cancer;
  • traumatic fibroma;
  • syphilis.

5. Tongue cancer

Watch Your Tongue! What Can Its Changes Say About Your Health?

This disease can manifest itself in lesions or tumors on the front or at the back of the tongue. However, the early stage of cancer is often asymptomatic.

Other signs include:

  • an ulcer on the tongue that doesn’t go away for a long time;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • numbness of the mouth;
  • bleeding from the tongue for no apparent reason;
  • sore throat, which won’t go away.

If you have been suffering from one of these symptoms for a while, we strongly recommend that you make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.