Are you suffering from painful elevations over the tongue surface? If you are, it may be a case of Glossitis that you are suffering from. Read on to know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disorder.

Glossitis Definition

It is a health disorder that leads to inflammation and tenderness of the tongue. This also results in a change in color of the tongue.

Atrophic Glossitis

This is a form of Glossitis that arises due to a deficiency of Folic Acid or Vitamin B12 in the body. The condition is also known by many other names like Bald Tongue, Atrophic Glossitis and Smooth Tongue. Atrophic Glossitis causes a change in taste sensations as well as pain, tenderness and burning sensation in the tongue.

Picture 1 – Atrophic Glossitis
Source – doctorspiller

Median Glossitis

Also known as “Median Rhomboid Glossitis”, this condition is characterized by ovoid or rhomboid elevations over the front, medium or posterior region of the tongue. Median Rhomboid Glossitis treatment involves use of antifungal agents.

Migratory Glossitis

This condition is popularly known as “Geographic Tongue” or “Benign Migratory Glossitis”. It is a benign disorder that affects about 3% of the population. The name “Geographic Tongue” comes from the fact that this disorder is marked by smooth inflamed patches over the tongue with grayish white borders. This tongue ailment often arises due to a yeast infection. Contact of the tongue with certain foods can also lead to this condition.

Glossitis Causes

This condition arises due to a number of factors. Some of the most common causes of Glossitis are

Allergic reaction

Use of mouthwash, toothpaste, plastic in dentures, retainers, breath fresheners, dyes in candy and some blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors) can produce allergic reactions in the tongue and cause this condition.

Dry mouth

Dryness in mouth is common when the saliva-producing glands are destroyed.


Bacterial or viral infection in the mouth, involving Oral Herpes Simplex viral strain, can also lead to this disorder.

Iron Deficiency

Low levels of iron in the bloodstream can be a major cause of this syndrome.

Vitamin Deficiency

The disease may also arise if a person suffers from deficiency of some vitamins like B or B12 in the bloodstream.

Skin conditions

Ailments of the skin such as Erythema Multiform, Pemphigus Vulgaris, Oral Lichen Planus, Syphilis and Aphthous ulcers can also give rise to this condition.

Yeast infection

Infection in the mouth caused by yeast attack can also cause this tongue ailment.


This condition is also found to run in generations in the same family. In such cases, Glossitis is believed to be a result of heredity and not any other disorder or event.

This problem can also arise from burn injuries, use of dental appliances, rough edges of teeth or any other trauma. Consumption of hot and spicy foods can act as irritants for the tongue. Alcohol and tobacco can also give rise to tongue irritation.

Glossitis Symptoms

The symptoms of Glossitis may arise rapidly or gradually over a period of time. These involve discomforts like

  • Soreness in tongue
  • Tenderness in tongue
  • Difficulties in swallowing, chewing or even speaking
  • Changes in color of the tongue
  • Smoothness in the tongue surface
  • Pale color of tongue (if the condition arises from Pernicious Anemia)
  • Inflammation of the tongue
  • Fiery red tongue (if the disorder results from a deficiency of other B vitamins)

Glossitis Diagnosis

This condition is usually diagnosed by a physical examination conducted by a dentist or medical provider. A healthcare provider usually looks for signs like absence of Papillae or finger-like lumps on the tongue surface and inflammation of patches on tongue.

Diagnosis also involves taking lifestyle and medical history of patients in consideration. This helps doctors determine the cause of inflammation in the tongue if no sign of trauma is apparently visible.

In some cases, blood tests may be conducted to rule out the presence of other medical conditions.

Glossitis Treatment

Treatment of Glossitis usually aims at reducing inflammation of the tongue. Corticosteroid medicines like Prednisone are used to reduce tongue swelling. Mild cases of this condition are treated with topical applications that help patients avoid side effect that arise from injected or swallowed corticosteroids. If an infection leads to the disorder, antifungal drugs, antibiotics and antimicrobial medicines may be used for cure.

If tongue inflammation becomes severe, immediate hospitalization of patients may become necessary.

Glossitis Natural Remedies

Natural treatment for Glossitis patients involves the following measures.

Maintaining proper oral hygiene

If the condition arises from an improper oral hygiene, it is necessary to brush teeth regularly for at least two times. Flossing should also be carried out every day.

Dietary modifications

If the cause of this condition is found to be anemia or deficiency of vitamin or essential minerals like iron, dietary changes or supplement intake can help get rid of the syndrome. Irritants like hot, spicy foods and alcohol should also be avoided to recover from this disorder and minimize discomforts.

Avoid Smoking

In some individuals, Glossitis arises as a result of smoking. Suffering individuals should give up smoking altogether to make a faster recovery from this condition.

Glossitis Prognosis

This condition generally shows a positive response to treatment if the cause of inflammation is addressed and cured. The sufferer may not experience any pain, but discomforting sensations in the mouth and tongue persist for some time.

Glossitis Complications

In some cases, this disorder may lead to acute inflammation of the tongue that can severely obstruct the airways. Unless immediately treated, this problem can become life-threatening. The disorder can also lead to other complications like difficulties in chewing, speaking, swallowing or respiration.

If the symptoms of this disorder lasts for over a week and you have severe tongue inflammation that leads to respiratory and other oral difficulties, you should immediately call a doctor. Airway obstruction is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and cure will help you avoid all such complications and make a fast recovery.

One Response

  1. TSHIANEO MBULAHENI August 26, 2012

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