Your tongue can reveal all sorts of surprising things about your health, from stress and vitamin deficiencies to your risk of oral cancer.
Is your tongue causing you problems? Find out what your tongue pain could mean with our handy guide to tongue health, which covers everything from canker sores to thrush. And we also highlight symptoms that can be a sign of cancer…
TONGUE PAIN: WHAT YOUR SORE TONGUE IS TRYING TO TELL YOU.
1. CANKER SORES ON TONGUE
It could mean: you’re stressed
Canker sores on tongues are punched-out, painful areas that occur on the tongue or cheeks. They are most uncomfortable for the first four to five days, then subside and eventually disappear within two weeks.
Canker sores on tongues are thought to be caused by a virus and typically occur when people are run down or stressed.Other causes can include excessive consumption of acidic or spicy foods, vitamin deficiencies, hormones, stress or autoimmune disorders.
Treat it! If you experience canker sores on your tongue accompanied by a fever, you have difficulty swallowing or the sores last for more than three weeks, visit a doctor, pronto.
2. A FISSURED TONGUE (OR PAINFUL, CRACKED TONGUE)
It could mean: you need to step up your brushing
A fissured tongue, or a cracked tongue, is rarely a cause for concern and is considered very normal.
The condition is thought to be genetic (over 80% of Down’s Syndrome children have fissured tongues) and just as wrinkles deepen with age, so can the cracks on the tongue.
Problems only tend to arise with a fissured tongue if poor dental hygiene causes debris to collect in the cracks, which can lead to infection. Symptoms can include a sore or burning tongue.
Treat it! If you have any concerns about your fissured tongue, it’s a good idea to get your tongue checked out by a dentist, who can clean out the fissures and recommend the best oral hygiene practices.
3. WHITE LUMPS ON TONGUE
It could mean: you have thrush
Tongue pain caused by white lumps on tongues that are not your toothpaste, could mean you are suffering from oral thrush.
Oral thrush is a yeast infection caused by an overproduction of candida which manifest as white lumps on tongues. The condition is often linked to antibiotics as these can kill off good bacteria and allow yeast to take over.
Thrush, which can be painful and cause food to taste a bit strange, typically occurs in young children but can also affect people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes that isn’t well controlled, chemotherapy patients and the elderly.
Treat it! If you suspect you might have thrush, see your doctor. Unlike other yeast infections, thrush can’t be treated with over-the-counter products