Definition

What is Glossitis?

Glossitis is a problem in which the tongue is swollen and inflamed. This often makes the surface of the tongue appear smooth.

There are different types of glossitis, which include:

  • Acute glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue that appears suddenly and often has severe symptoms. This type of glossitis typically develops during an allergic reaction.
  • Chronic glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue that continues to recur. This type may begin as a symptom of another health condition.
  • Atrophic glossitis, also known as Hunter glossitis, occurs when many papillae are lost. This results in changes in the tongue’s color and texture. This type of glossitis typically gives the tongue a glossy appearance.

How common is Glossitis?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Glossitis?

The common symptoms of Glossitis are:

  • Pain or tenderness in the tongue
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Change in the color of your tongue
  • An inability to speak, eat, or swallow
  • Loss of papillae on the surface of your tongue

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Glossitis?

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to medications, food, and other potential irritants may aggravate the papillae and the muscle tissues of the tongue. Irritants include toothpaste and certain types of medications that treat high blood pressure.

Diseases

Certain diseases that affect your immune system may attack the tongue’s muscles and papillae. Herpes simplex, a virus that causes cold sores and blisters around the mouth, may contribute to swelling and pain in the tongue.

Low iron levels

Not enough iron in the blood can trigger glossitis. Iron regulates cell growth by helping your body make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs, tissues, and muscles. Low levels of iron in the blood may result in low levels of myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that’s important for muscle health, including the tongue’s muscle tissue.

Mouth trauma

Trauma caused by injuries to the mouth can affect the condition of your tongue. Inflammation may occur because of cuts and burns on the tongue or dental appliances like braces placed on your teeth.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Glossitis?

There are many risk factors for Glossitis, such as:

  • Have a mouth injury
  • Eat spicy foods
  • Wear braces or dentures that irritate your tongue
  • Have herpes
  • Have low iron levels
  • Have food allergies
  • Have an immune system disorder

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Glossitis diagnosed?

You may see your dentist or doctor for an assessment of your condition. They’ll examine your mouth to check for abnormal bumps and blisters on your tongue, gums, and soft tissues of your mouth. Samples of your saliva and blood may also be taken and sent to a laboratory for further examination.

How is Glossitis treated?

Treatment for glossitis typically includes a combination of medications and home remedies.

Medications

Antibiotics and other medications that get rid of infections may be prescribed if bacteria are present in your body. Your doctor may also prescribe topical corticosteroids to reduce the redness and soreness.

Home care

Brushing and flossing your teeth several times a day may improve the health of your tongue, gums, and teeth. This can help relieve the symptoms associated with glossitis and prevent the condition from happening again.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Glossitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Glossitis:

  • Good oral care. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
  • Diet changes and supplements to treat nutrition problems.
  • Avoiding irritants (such as hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco) to ease discomfort.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: May 4, 2018 | Last Modified: May 4, 2018

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