When it comes to your health, there are many indicators — the tongue being one of them. Whether or not you are in the pink of health, can be ascertained by studying the tongue. No wonder then, that doctors almost always insist on checking the tongue first. But, it is also often overlooked, and neglected — a gross mistake done by many. A change in colour or the development of a painful lump could indicate a health problem. Which is why it is important for you to always stay extra cautious when it comes to this organ.
What makes a healthy tongue?
To answer this question, first examine your tongue in the mirror. Typically, a healthy tongue is pink in colour. But the shades may vary slightly. There also exist small nodules on the top and bottom, called the papillae. You will know that something is wrong with your health, when you notice a significant change in the tongue colour. Additionally, pain while eating, swallowing or drinking, and/or having small bumps are indicators, too.
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When to see a doctor?
Book an urgent appointment if you see thick white patches on the tongue and inner cheeks. Redness of the tongue can also be alarming, as this can indicate vitamin B deficiencies, Kawasaki disease (common in children under five years of age) and Scarlet fever. Sometimes, the tongue also becomes yellow. This could mean a bacterial growth. Smoking, chewing tobacco, jaundice, could be some of the other factors.
A black tongue can indicate poor oral hygiene. It could also mean you are taking antibiotics, or are diabetic. It is best to check with your doctor.
The most painful of the lot, certainly, is a sore and bumpy tongue. Soreness may result from tobacco use, mouth ulcers, accidental bites, and/or tongue burns. If the soreness does not go away in time, it could be a sign of oral cancer. Consult your doctor, especially if you have a history of tobacco use. Remember, not all cases of oral cancer cause pain.