The tongue is a generally under-appreciated body part. Despite the fact it enables us to taste, talk and whistle, we generally don’t give it a second thought.
In fact, you may not even be aware that – in addition to its everyday functions – the tongue can also be an indicator of the condition of your overall health. In this article, we will share important information regarding the ways in which your tongue can provide valuable information about a wide range of health threats. Read on to learn more.
How To Examine Your Tongue
When checking your tongue for signs of health problems, there are two qualities you should check carefully. They are:
Colour: Your tongue should be a nice, healthy reddish-pink colour because it should be getting good blood circulation. Your tongue’s colour is a good indication of the health of your circulatory system, It can tell you how well your blood is circulating and even whether or not your blood is carrying enough oxygen throughout your body.
Coating: The colour and texture of your tongue’s coating can give you valuable clues regarding the workings of your digestive system.
Decoding Your Tongue’s Clues
You should look at your tongue every day to keep on top of your general health condition. Here are some of the things you may to see when you examine your tongue.
Patches of White
If your tongue has white patches or a white coating, it could mean a couple of things. You may have Candida overgrowth, or you may just need to brush your tongue every day. In extreme cases, a white coating on the tongue could be indicative of cancer. Before you become over-excited by this prospect, there are a few things you should try.
Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
Try adding fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, kimchi and sauerkraut to your diet. If brushing and adding probiotics to your diet do not help your problem, see your doctor. More likely than not, improving your oral hygiene and balancing your intestinal fauna will resolve white patches and/or white coating on the tongue. Be sure to continue this regimen because candida is a very persistent form of yeast. It will come right back if you let it. If the white patches on your tongue increase in size, it could be a sign that you have Leukoplakia, which is not dangerous on its own but can be a harbinger of cancerous conditions to come.
If the surface of your tongue looks webbed or striped, it could be caused by a disease known as Oral Lichen Planus. This is an inflammatory, chronic autoimmune disease. If your condition is not painful, your doctor may not recommend treatment; however, this is not wise. It is important to take good care of your immune system since your general health relies on its proper functioning. One simple way to boost the immune system is by adding turmeric to your diet. This tasty, golden spice has been hailed as a cure-all in many cultures for many hundreds of years. It has powerful anti-inflammatory abilities, and it acts as a natural antibiotic. Clinical studies have shown turmeric to be effective in treating Oral Lichen Planus, but even if you do not have this condition it is an excellent, immune-boosting addition to any diet. Experiment with adding turmeric to your favourite recipes. It is especially good in eggs, rice and chicken dishes; however, its mild flavour can help make just about any dish better. It is best absorbed when it is consumed with a healthful type of oil, so remember to add a bit of coconut oil to any dish that includes turmeric.
Indentations and/or Ridges
Most tongues have some natural ridges that are configured somewhat like the veins in a leaf. There may be one ridge or groove running down the centre of the tongue with others branching out to the sides. Generally, this is no cause for concern; however, if the ridges are prominent or the grooves are deep, be sure to brush well. Keeping your tongue clean helps stimulate blood circulation and prevents bad breath.
Your tongue should be a rosy, reddish-pink colour; however, if it is red and inflamed it may be an indication of an infection. For example, if you have strep throat or scarlet fever your tongue may become bright red and inflamed. If your tongue is inflamed and sore, you should see your doctor right away.
If your tongue just looks a bit reddish and does not hurt, it may be an indication that you are suffering a vitamin deficiency. Be sure you are taking a high quality multi-vitamin daily. Pay close attention to levels of:
A deficiency in any of these vitamins can cause redness of the tongue.
There are a number of benign reasons why your tongue might be bumpy. You may have bitten your tongue, or you might have a cold sore or ulcer on the tongue. These are usually not a cause for concern. If an ulcer on your tongue or in your mouth fails to heal in a reasonable period of time, you should see your doctor. Likewise if bumps on the tongue are very painful, you should seek professional assistance. Lingering, painful sores on the tongue can indicate oral cancer.
Hairy Black Coating
You may not realize this, but your tongue actually does have tiny hairs known as papillae. These grow all the time, and they can get a bit long. When this happens, bacteria can multiply and cause your tongue to look black. This state of affairs can be caused by a fungal infection, use of antibiotics or poor oral hygiene. If left untreated, it can cause bad breath and is quite off-putting in appearance. Even so, having a hairy black tongue does not usually indicate a serious condition. You can probably eliminate the problem with regular brushing.
It is not unusual to see spotty patches of red and white on the tongue. These can cause a map-like appearance, and the term for this condition is “geographic tongue”! Luckily, this condition is harmless and you don’t need to do anything about it. Spots on the tongue that look like cottage cheese are symptomatic of oral thrush. This can be caused by a weak immune system. Good oral hygiene and careful attention to your diet should clear this problem up within a couple of weeks. If not, see your doctor.
Macroglossi (enlarged tongue) has a number of causes. It can be a symptom of a genetic disorder or of hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid gland) This is especially true in children. If you notice that your child’s tongue seems to be larger than it should be, bring this to the attention of your paediatrician.
Pay Close Attention To The Condition Of Your Tongue
Have a look at your tongue every day when you brush your teeth. Become familiar with its normal appearance so that you will notice if something goes wrong.