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Most days go by and few of us give our tongues a second thought. Even so, we rely on our tongues all day long to taste or to speak. Many conditions both benign and cancerous can affect the tongue, which means that changes in the tongue’s appearance or texture should never simply be ignored. In fact, if you experience any of the following tongue symptoms or changes, you should schedule an appointment with our NextGen OMS head and neck surgeon. We are a leading head and neck surgery clinic that serves Plano, TX, and the surrounding areas. In many cases, tongue issues can be cleared up without invasive procedures; however, the sooner you are checked out, the better to safeguard your health.
About Tongue Health
The tongue may actually provide many clues about a person’s health. Many bumps or patches can prove to be harmless. Sometimes, however, a tongue symptom could be linked to a serious health condition that requires investigation and treatment of some form or another. Medications can cause changes in the tongue’s color–even turning it pitch black. Infections may be fungal or bacterial in nature that can easily be cleared up–or require a specialist’s evaluation. For instance, sometimes cancer can cause the tongue to hard white patches. White discolorations, however, may also be linked to thrush, a fungal infection that can be cleared up with medication.
At NextGen OMS, our experienced head and neck surgeon can assess your tongue’s symptoms and decide if further diagnostic testing is in order or if your condition can be treated–or simply monitored. We routinely treat health conditions that involve the head, neck, and throat. We’ll carefully evaluate any abnormalities and provide the care you need.
Change in the Tongue’s Surface Texture
Many things can change your tongue’s surface texture–even wearing dentures. Nutritional deficiencies can also cause your tongue’s texture to look and even feel differently. Some textural changes can be downright unnerving–but don’t panic! Some people develop a hairy tongue after a course of antibiotics. In fact, smoking or drinking coffee can also lead to this condition. Our surgeon will get to the root problem of this type of change or others to provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If medication or a habit is the cause, you may be forced to switch medication or change your habits.
On the other hand, some changes in texture can point to more serious problems. Hard white patches, for instance, can point to cancer. Changes in tongue texture associated with other tongue symptoms should always be checked out by our head and neck surgeon.
Changes in the Tongue’s Color
Color changes are not rare when it comes to the tongue. Various health conditions can affect the tongue’s color. Treating the root cause often leads to a return to the tongue’s healthy reddish-pink hue. If your tongue has developed white coloring, it could indicate the presence of a candida infection, which is a type of fungal infection. Often, patients who have other medical conditions such as diabetes may develop a fungal infection like this at some point.
Another condition that affects the color of the tongue is known as geographic tongue. People with this condition experience patches of discoloration on their tongues. Typically, these are not painful. Researchers are beginning to uncover evidence that links this condition to ‘leaky gut syndrome,’ which refers to intestinal inflammation. Sometimes medication or a change in diet is called for in these cases. Our Plano, TX, head and neck surgeon will be able to advise you about the best course of treatment for tongue discoloration.
Changes in the Size of the Tongue
It can be alarming to experience swelling of your tongue. This can occur because of an injury–drinking coffee or eating a food that’s too hot. An allergic reaction or medications can also cause the tongue to swell. On the other hand, a change in your tongue’s size could indicate a health condition that needs more pronounced medical treatment. A rare health condition known as amyloidosis can affect organs and soft tissues throughout the body. An enlarged tongue could be a symptom. Fortunately, our head and neck surgeon will be able to identify other factors that could indicate this or other health conditions that require more advanced treatment.
Change in Taste
A change in taste is common and can even occur with the common cold. Lately, loss of taste or a change in taste can be a symptom of Covid-19. One of the most common reasons for a change in taste is medication, but doctors and pharmacists may warn patients ahead of time that this could occur as a medication side effect. However, if you aren’t taking any medication and begin to experience taste changes, you should consult with our head and neck surgeon or your general practitioner who may order a Covid test, especially if other telltale symptoms are present.
Our head and neck surgeon routinely investigates tongue ulcerations for patients. If you have an ulceration that hasn’t healed or at least regressed in two to three weeks, you should visit NextGen OMS for a checkup. There are many types of ulcers. If you have one that’s been present for more than a few weeks, it may require a biopsy. On the other hand, various health conditions can also trigger the growth of ulcers. These, too, may be treated along with the underlying health condition.
Contact NextGen OMS to schedule a visit with our head and neck surgeon if you have unusual tongue symptoms that you cannot account for or that won’t go away in a reasonably short period of time. We treat a myriad of conditions associated with the tongue. Our head and neck surgeon may prescribe medication or recommend a procedure to address the root causes of the issue. Call to schedule your appointment today.