Inflammation of the tongue or glossitis

Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis) is characterized by:

  • a swollen tongue,
  • an enlargement of the tongue,
  • a dark red colour,
  • a smooth tongue surface.

The tongue is a small, muscular organ that participates in chewing and swallowing food and supports speech function.

This disease can lead to the disappearance of the taste papillae, which are small bumps on the surface of the tongue.
The papillae contain thousands of tiny sensors called taste buds.
Severe inflammation causes:

  • Swelling
  • Reddening
  • Ache.
  • Changes in the way you eat or speak.


Types of tongue inflammation

There are several types of glossitis.

Acute glossitis An inflammation of the tongue that occurs suddenly and with severe symptoms is called acute glossitis.

Chronic glossitis
Chronic glossitis is a relatively common persistent inflammatory disease of the tongue.
It can begin as a symptom of another disease.
These include glossitis gummosa, which is characterized by the formation of interstitial infiltrations and occurs as a result of tertiary syphilis.

Idiopathic glossitis
The cause of idiopathic glossitis is unknown.

Atrophic glossitis
Atrophic glossitis causes:

  • the loss of many taste buds,
  • a color change (red tongue) and structural change (smooth and shiny) of the tongue.

This type of tongue inflammation leads to a dark red tongue coloration.

Map tongue
The map tongue (glossitis areata ecsudativa) is a benign inflammatory change in the surface of the tongue.
It is characterized by:

  • areas with loss of thread-like papillae on the surface of the tongue;
  • red or pink spots with whitish or yellowish edges, in which the papillae are elongated and keratinized.

The type and location of the spots change after a few days.
Women most often suffer from a map tongue, but men and children can also be affected.

Hunter glossitis
Atrophic Hunter glossitis is provoked by pernicious anemia or the deficiency of other vitamins from the B complex and is characterized by:

  • Ache
  • violent tongue burning.

Symptoms may also spread to other areas of the oral lining.
The tongue eventually becomes atrophic or smooth and dark red shiny.
Sometimes small ulcers are distributed on the surface.

Glossitis rhombica mediana Glossitis rhombica mediana
is a congenital disorder characterized by a reddish, smooth and shiny spot in the center of the tongue.
The spot has the shape of a rhombus after which the disease was named.
The cause is an infection by Candida Albicans.

Glossitis sphilitica sclerosa Glossitis sphilitica sclerosa is characterized by a hard formation of nodules on the tongue, which is provoked by syphilis.

Causes of tongue inflammation

  • Irritants, such as alcohol, smoking, hot foods, tobacco or spices.
  • bacterial, viral or fungal infection (e.g. by Candida).
  • Trauma or mechanical irritation, such as:
    • sharp-edged teeth,
    • Burns
    • Teeth or braces.
  • Allergic reactions to:
    • Toothpaste
    • dyes in sweets,
    • Gargle
    • certain blood pressure medications.
  • Diseases such as:
    • oral lichen planus,
    • mouth rot,
    • Coeliac disease
    • Syphilis.
    • pernicious anemia,
    • gastroesophageal reflux,
    • tongue tumor,
    • Erythema multiforme.
    • Plummer-Vinson syndrome – causes defects in nails, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and anemia due to iron deficiency.
    • Psoriasis – a chronic skin disease that causes inflammation and thick, red or whitish patches.
    • Bladder addiction (pemphigus vulgaris) is a rare autoimmune disease that causes blistering on the mucous membranes, for example in the mouth.
  • Iron deficiency: low iron in the blood is one of the main causes of glossitis.
  • Vitamin deficiency: Glossitis can result from the lack of certain vitamins in the blood, such as vitamin B or B12.
  • Predisposition: Inflammation of the tongue can occur more frequently among members of the same family; in this case, it is assumed that it is a predisposition and the glossitis is not provoked by other disorders.

Symptoms of tongue inflammation

Glossitis can occur painlessly or cause discomfort to the tongue and mouth.
In some cases, a strong swelling of the tongue is noticeable, which blocks the airways.

Symptoms and signs of tongue inflammation include:

  1. Pain or burning in the mouth
  2. Canker
  3. Pain or numbness of the tongue
  4. red tongue
  5. Swelling of the tongue
  6. Tongue of hair caused by swelling of the taste buds
  7. Sores and white spots on the tongue
  8. Change of tongue color, can become light and matte
  9. bitter taste in the mouth
  10. smooth tongue
  11. Scaling
  12. Loss of taste

The symptoms of tongue inflammation are different and can be individually different.
Whatever symptoms occur, this condition can last for many years before a correct diagnosis is made.

Possible complications

  • Blockage of the airways (breathing problems)
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Speech problems

How is tongue inflammation diagnosed?

The responsible doctor is a dentist or dermatologist.
The doctor conducts an examination of the mouth area to assess color and consistency; He also pays attention to:

  • unusual bumps,
  • blisters on the tongue, gums and soft tissues of the mouth.

The doctor may prescribe blood tests and a complete blood count to rule out:

  • Anaemia
  • Lack of mineral salts or vitamins

Which therapy helps with tongue inflammation?

Treatment depends entirely on the cause of the inflammation of the tongue.
The goal of treatment is to relieve inflammation, regardless of the cause.
Hot liquids should be avoided as a matter of principle; most often, the following drugs are prescribed:

  1. Mouthwashes with local anesthetics, such as lidocaine.
  2. Antihistamine mouthwashes such as diphenhydramine.
  3. Antimicrobial mouthwashes to combat the triggering infection.
  4. Cortisone-containing mouthwashes such as dexamethasone.
  5. Dietary changes to treat anemia and nutrient deficiencies.
  6. Anti-inflammatory drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs for short), such as ibuprofen (Dolormin), indomethacin (Indoclir) and naproxen (Proxene).

Natural remedies for tongue inflammation

The independent, home treatment of tongue inflammation includes the following measures:

Oral hygiene
If the disease is the result of poor oral care, the teeth must now be brushed regularly, several times a day and flossed.

Dietary change
The change of diet helps if the disease is caused by:

  • Anaemia
  • Lack of vitamins and important minerals, such as iron.

According to Shelton’s natural medicine and hygienism, anemia is not cured by taking supplements.
The main problem today is overeating, so iron deficiency in the blood is due to poor assimilation.
According to their experience, this statement is confirmed by the fact that the levels of ferritin and serum iron of the patients improve during a fasting diet.
Cereals can interfere with the absorption of iron in the intestines, especially whole grains, because they contain antinutrients, such as phytic acid.
Foods that should be restricted or avoided include whole grains and gluten-containing grains:

  • Noodles
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Cracker
  • rusks, biscuits, etc.

Natural medicine recommends the consumption of raw food and natural foods, to avoid are:

  • processed products,
  • Fried
  • Sweet.

Irritants such as hot, spicy food and alcohol should be avoided so that tongue inflammation can heal and pain is reduced to a minimum.

Do not smoke
Sometimes the tongue inflammation is caused by cigarette smoking.
Those affected should refrain from tobacco consumption in order to recover from the disease as quickly as possible.

Mouthwashes with water and baking soda are among the most effective natural treatment measures.

Healing times (prognosis for patients with inflammation of the tongue)

Tongue inflammation can usually be treated successfully if the cause of inflammation has been eliminated or cured.

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