Sticking out your tongue can be extremely important gauge of overall health. From vitamin deficiencies to more serious health threats, the truth is often written on your tongue.
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.
It could mean: You have a vitamin deficiency. A glossy, bright red tongue may be a sign your body is lacking iron or B12. "Vitamin B12 and iron are needed to mature papillae on the tongue. If you are deficient in those vitamins, you lose those papillae, which can make your tongue appear very smooth."
In severe cases, this "balding" can cause pain when eating hot liquids or spicy food. Vegetarians are especially prone to low levels of B12, which is found in certain meats. Notable vitamin deficiencies can also be associated with an autoimmune disease in the GI tract, in which the stomach doesn't absorb vitamins.
You're postmenopausal, or using the wrong toothpaste. If your tongue stings and burns as though it's been scalded but looks perfectly normal hormonal changes could be to blame. Though burning tongue syndrome can happen to anybody (it affects up to 15 percent of the population), women are seven times more likely to experience it than men. It's uncertain why this occurs, and the condition goes away in some individuals while it persists in others.
Some people also experience burning sensations from developing an allergy to certain toothpastes. An ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which helps toothpaste get foamy, can cause stingingâsometimes suddenly. Someone might be using one toothpaste their entire life, and then suddenly, their mouth starts hurting, Switching to toothpaste without SLS, like Sensodyne, can help reduce some of the irritation. For other causes, a doctor may be able to prescribe treatments such as antibiotic rinses or pills for neuropathic pain.
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