11 tongue diseases you never want to get

Warning, this post contains graphic images

Remember that game you played as a kid? The one where your friend poked their tongue out and you tried to grab it with your hand? Well, we don’t recommend you try it as adults: tobacco, bad hygiene and disease can wreak havoc on people’s tongues and you might be in for a nasty surprise… like one of the 11 delights on display below.

1. Bumpy, yellowish covering

It may look like someone’s been preparing scrambled eggs on their tongue, but this disorder is actually the result of the fungus candida albicans – also responsible for vaginal infections. It attacks people with a weakened immune system, like those undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from immunosuppressive diseases. Certain antibiotics can also bring it on. Sufferers should see a doctor as soon as possible.

2. Purple

Unless you’ve been licking an ice lolly, a purple tongue is a sure sign that your tongue lacks oxygen. In other words, you have a circulatory problem. The condition can also be provoked by high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, chronic bronchitis or the final stages of terminal diseases.

3. Black and hairy

This may show all the signs of being a life-threatening disease, but it’s not as bad as it looks. A black, furry tongue just means that your papillae have grown more than normal because they’ve suffered a bacterial invasion. This can be down to prolonged tobacco use, excessive coffee drinking, dehydration, dryness of mouth, poor oral hygiene or the use of certain medications.

4. Short black hairs

Unlike in the previous case, these are genuine hairs. This condition is called paratrichosis and it can occur as a result of surgery and reconstruction after tongue cancer. A clinical case is presented in this study published in Cirurgía y Cirujanos.

5. Persistent red lesions.

They may look relatively mild compared to some of the other conditions, but these lesions can be the sign of something very serious. They may not be painful at first, but if the lesions don’t heal, and they continue to aggravate, they may be turning into tongue cancer tumours. Chronic heavy smoking is a major predisposing factor in this condition.

6. Canker sores

Don’t get these mixed up with the far more serious red lesions above. Canker sores, or cold sores, usually occur when we’re stressed and our immune system is down.

7. Cracks and wrinkles 

Just as wrinkles appear around our eyes and lips as we grow older, they also appear on our tongues. This may look rather unattractive but it’s normally a harmless condition. It only presents a risk if bacteria develop in the cracks, leading to pain and an unpleasant smell.

8. Small white patches

Diagnosis: leukoplakia, caused by an excess growth of cells. These painless white patches can be an early indicator of oral cancer. In many cases, leukoplakia can be reversed when you stop smoking.

9. Thin white film

If your tongue is covered by a thin white film which causes you no pain or discomfort, you probably just need to take better care of your mouth hygiene. Remember to give your tongue a good scrub when you brush your teeth.

10. Smooth, fat and red

If your tongue resembles a wadge of bubblegum then your body is probably lacking iron or vitamin B12. It could also be a sign of anemia. Under these conditions, the papillae are barely visible and the tongue becomes more sensitive than normal to hot liquids or spicy food.

11. Swollen, red and strawberry-like

When your tongue goes as red as an overripe strawberry and the papillae become inflamed – resembling strawberry seeds – this could be a sign of scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. The former is mild and can be easily treated. But Kawasaki disease, though rare, is far more dangerous. It normally afflicts children. So if your child’s tongue begins to resemble a strawberry, get them to a pediatrician at once.

12. Pink with hills and valleys

  This is the kind of tongue we all want poking out of our mouths. It’s a healthy one: keep it that way!

[Via Elite Readers]


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