What is a sore tongue?

A sore tongue is any pain or discomfort of all or a part of the tongue. Pain is a sensation triggered by the nervous system in response to tissue inflammation or damage. If you have a sore tongue, you may feel a dull, stabbing, shooting, burning, or pins-and-needles sensation.

The tongue is composed mainly of muscle. A sore or painful tongue can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy and other abnormal processes of the tissues of the tongue. One common condition that causes a sore tongue is glossitis, an inflammation of the tongue that also results in tongue swelling and discoloration that is caused by irritants, infection or other disorders.

Depending on the cause, a sore tongue can begin suddenly and resolve on its own, such as after biting your tongue. Tongue pain or soreness that develops over time and worsens may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as cancer.

In some cases, a sore tongue can be a sign of a serious or life-threatening disease or condition, such as an anaphylactic reaction. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue, mouth or face, or a change in consciousness, seek immediate medical care (call 911).

If you do not have these symptoms and your condition lasts more than a few days, recurs, or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care and talk with your doctor about your symptoms.


What other symptoms might occur with a sore tongue?

A sore tongue may occur with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Common symptoms include tongue swelling, discoloration and unusual texture, difficulty chewing, and difficulty swallowing. Potential symptoms that may accompany a sore tongue include:

  • Bad breath

  • Burning sensation
    Read more about sore tonguesymptoms


What causes a sore tongue?

A sore tongue is a symptom of a variety of diseases, disorders or conditions. Some causes may be relatively mild, such as a small laceration or contusion due to biting the tongue; whereas, other conditions require prompt medical attention, such as an infection or oral cancer.

One common cause of tongue pain or soreness is glossitis, a condition characterized by tongue swelling and... Read more about sore tonguecauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health