Sometimes your body might feel like a medical mystery that only a health professional can figure out. But the truth is your body is sending you signals all the time. You just need to know where to look, and what they mean.
Recently we revealed some startling messages your nails could be sending you. Today we’re going to turn to, of all places, your tongue. Because as strange as it sounds, taking a closer look at your tongue can tell you a lot about your health.
A healthy tongue should be a light pink color, and covered in small bumps known as papillae. If yours isn’t, your body could be trying to send you a message.
Tongue problem basics decoded
Start reading your own body like a book today. Starting with five hidden health messages your tongue may be sending you.
Do you have small white bumps that resemble pimples or whiteheads on your tongue? These bumps, called canker sores, are often painful when they hit against your teeth.
The good news is they aren’t typically anything serious.
Canker sores can simply be a reaction to eating very spicy or salty foods. If you’re sensitive to them cut back on these irritating foods, and they should disappear. They can also show up when life gets a bit too hectic, a sign you need to reduce the stress.
But if neither one of these is your trigger, then the canker sores may be a reaction to running low in a certain vitamin or mineral. Common culprits are the B vitamins, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron. Check with your doctor about having your vitamin levels checked. A simple supplement may resolve this tongue problem.
Larger white or red spots, around the size of a wart, are lesions. Unlike canker sores, lesions are often painless. And while sores aren’t usually serious, lesions can be.
Lesions can be an early warning sign for oral cancer. And while you shouldn’t panic if you spot one, you should make an appointment with your doctor or dentist to have this tongue problem looked at as soon as possible. It could turn out to be nothing to worry about, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Webbed or striped look:
Does your tongue look as if it’s covered in gauze or lined in horizontal or vertical stripes? If so, your immune system could be on overdrive.
A webbed or stripped tongue is often a sign of oral lichen planus (OLP). This chronic condition occurs when your immune system attacks your mouth. And while middle-aged women are most at risk for OLP, it does show up in men too.
Don’t be surprised if your doctor chooses a watchful waiting approach for OLP. The condition often doesn’t cause any further problems, but sometimes it can become painful. In rare cases, OLP can lead to oral cancer.
4. White patches or coating:
If you spot any kind of a coating on your tongue, your first step should be to add your tongue to your brushing routine. You should gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
Often, that’s enough to resolve the issue. However, if the coating is hanging around after a few days of brushing it’s time to get in touch with your doctor. The white patches or coating could be an oral yeast infection, which may need to be treated.
This tongue problem could also turn out to be something more serious. In some cases, oral yeast infections can be a sign of high blood sugar or oral cancer. So it’s also a good idea to ask your doctor about checking your numbers and running some tests.
5. Black, “hairy” tongue:
While a black “hairy” tongue is the most shocking signal on our list to look at, it’s typically something that’s easy to fix. And the good news is it’s not hair.
A “furry” tongue occurs when the cells on your tongue grow faster than you have been removing them. And the fix for this tongue problem is simply spending more time taking care of your teeth.
Be diligent about brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day. Floss daily, and be sure to rinse with an all-natural mouthwash or baking soda dissolved in water. Once you’ve gotten your new oral care routine in order, the black and hairy looking build up should go away and stay away.
Begin reading your own body like a book today, starting with your tongue.