What are the signs of tongue problems?

Your tongue is an organ that is made up primarily of muscle. The surface of the tongue is covered with taste buds. Your tongue helps you talk, swallow, taste and chew. Common symptoms of the tongue include:

  • Bumps or sores

  • Burning feeling

  • Change in color, such as a white tongue or dark tongue

  • Change in texture, such as the surface becoming smooth or grooved

  • Hairy texture or appearance

  • Itching

  • Movement problems

  • Pain and soreness

  • Patches or spots that can be red or white and smooth or raised

  • Swelling, enlargement or bloating

  • Taste problems

  • Tremor

  • Ulcers and similar lesions

Tongue/Mouth Problems Spotlight

Tongue symptoms can be caused by a variety of disorders and diseases including infection, inflammation, allergy, genetic disorders, trauma, malignancy, metabolic diseases, and other abnormal processes. Chronic or long-term tongue symptoms can be due to such conditions as acromegaly, oral cancer, or Down syndrome.

Because tongue symptoms can be a sign of a serious disease or condition, you should seek prompt medical care about your symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have severe tongue pain, tongue swelling, inability to swallow, shortness of breath, or an unexpected change in consciousness.


What other symptoms might occur with tongue symptoms?

Tongue symptoms may occur with symptoms that involve the mouth or other body systems and organs. These symptoms vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, such as allergies, dental problems, or infection.

Additional oral symptoms that may occur with tongue symptoms

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What causes tongue symptoms?

Tongue symptoms can be related to a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. Some causes of tongue symptoms are serious or life threatening, such as an anaphylactic reaction.

Infectious causes of tongue symptoms

Viral and bacterial infections that can cause tongue symptoms include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 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