The Surprising Things Your Tongue Says About Your Health

What's the first thing you do in the morning?

Well, the first thing you do after hitting the snooze button.

If you're like most people, we take a slow walk from our bed to the bathroom and look in the mirror.

I don't think anyone is exactly sure what we're looking for, but every morning without fail, we take a look in the mirror.

Maybe in our sleepy haze, we need to make sure our hair hasn't changed color, our eyes are still in place, and that no birds built a nest in our messy bed hair.

Shortly after the first glance in the mirror, you're likely to splash some cold water in your face so that you can join the conscious world.

Once you're fully awake, did you know that there is something legitimate you should be looking at in the mirror?

Something that can tell you something about your health and how you're feeling?

Just open your mouth, say "ah" and stick out your tongue.

That's right; your tongue can tell you a lot about your health.

The color of your tongue will change based on the food you eat, the beverages you drink, the medicine you take, and if you smoke tobacco or not.

Unusual tongue patterns and colors can also be signs of poor health, a lack of sleep, or a bad diet.

Below are five things you should look out for on your tongue, and what they say about your health. 


Article Table of Contents:

  1. Persistent Red Lesions
  2. Black Hairs
  3. Extreme Smoothness
  4. Cottage Cheese White Spots
  5. A Strawberry Red Coloring 

Your Tongue Has...

1. Persistent Red Lesions

If you have persistent red lesions that appear on your tongue, it could be signs of tongue cancer.

That's why it's important to look at your tongue every day.

Don't get these lesions confused with canker sores that heal themselves in just a couple of weeks.

These red lesions or patches are always there, and never go away, and they could be very serious.

If you notice this on your tongue, you need to get them checked as soon as possible.

Oral cancer is typically attributed to tobacco use, but can also be caused by the HPV virus.

So don't think that just because you don't use tobacco that you're safe from oral cancer. 

2. Black Hairs

This one isn't as serious as the red lesions. And it's not actually black hair.

They're called papillae, and if bacteria grow on them, it can make them look like black hair.

The papillae on your tongue are similar to the hair on your body because they grow throughout your lifetime.

These papillae can become excessively long in some people, making them more likely to harbor bacteria.

This isn't common, and even better, it isn't serious. If you practice good dental hygiene, you are unlikely ever to notice this.

However, people with diabetes, undergoing chemotherapy, or taking antibiotics are more likely to develop the overgrown papillae.

3. Extreme Smoothness

This is the opposite of the hairy tongue.

If your tongue is exceptionally smooth with no papillae, you may have some underlying issues.

This condition is called atrophic glossitis, which is associated with a deficiency in nutrients.

Your tongue is likely to also be pretty tender and in a fair amount of pain if it gets extremely smooth.

If it gets too painful, give your doctor a call.

You need to be especially careful if you have atrophic glossitis, and you're a regular smoker.

4. Cottage Cheese White Spots

If your tongue looks like it's covered in cottage cheese, it most likely means you have a yeast infection.

It's caused by an overproduction of candida, which is often linked to antibiotics.

When you take antibiotics that kill off bacteria and doesn't kill yeast, it allows the yeast to take over.

Thrush, a type of yeast infection, causes pain and makes thing taste different.

It's common in children and people with weakened immune systems or autoimmune diseases.

If you think you have thrush, you need to see your doctor. Unlike other yeast infections, thrush can't be treated with over the counter products.

5. A Strawberry Red Coloring

Although your tongue should be a red, a bright strawberry red color is usually a sign of a vitamin deficiency.

More specifically, it's a sign that your body might be lacking iron or B12.

If you're deficient in iron or B12, you can lose the papillae on your tongue, giving your tongue the strawberry red color.

Vegetarians are especially prone to low levels of B12, which is primarily found in meats.

If you start to notice your tongue turning the strawberry red color, and you're a vegetarian, you need to ask your doctor about supplementation. 

You may need to supplement the vitamins whether you're a vegetarian or not.

Study your tongue every day

Study Your Tongue

It might seem silly, but you should check out your tongue on a daily basis.

A great time to do is first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up.

Or, be sure to do it when you brush and floss your teeth.

Certain things that are found on your tongue need to be treated by your doctor, and the sooner they're noticed, the better.

So make sticking your tongue out at yourself in the mirror a daily habit!

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