The inflammation of the tongue- Glossitis


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Glossitis is a condition where the tongue becomes swollen leading to increase in size, change in color and development of a smooth appearance on the surface of the tongue.

The tongue is a small muscular organ in the mouth that enhances chewing and ingestion food as well as assisting in making speech. When the tongue gets inflamed, it causes pain and affects the eating and speech pattern.


Types of Glossitis

The following are types of glossitis:
Acute Glossitis: occurs when the tongue become suddenly swollen as a result of an allergic reaction to any substance in contact with the mouth.
Chronic Glossitis: is a recurring swollen tongue indicating a symptom of another health condition.
Idiopathic Glossitis: is a swollen tongue that affects the muscles of the tongue and leads to loss of significant amount of papillae.
Atrophic Glossitis: occurs when there is a change in the colour and texture of the tongue and also loss of a large number of papillae. It is characterized with a dark red tongue.



One of the causes of swollen tongue is allergic reactions to medications, food, toothpaste, mouthwash, breath fresheners, dyes in candy and some group of blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors.

Dry mouth occasioned by shortage of saliva as a result of salivary gland disorder and dehydration is another possible cause of glossitis.

Some diseases that affect the immune systems like herpes simplex cause cold sores around the mouth thereby contributing to the swollen of the tongue.

In addition to the above, when there is inadequate supply of iron in the blood, it often leads to myoglobin which triggers glossitis.

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Injuries or damages as a result of burns, rough edges of teeth and cuts in the mouth can also cause the tongue to become inflamed.
Skin conditions such as oral lichen planus, erythema multiform,aphthous ulcers, pemphigus vulgaris, syphilis, and others can also influence the tongue to get swollen
Tobacco, alcohol, hot foods, spices, or other irritants as well as yeast infections causes glossitis.



The common symptoms include:
Inflammation of the tongue
Pain or tenderness in the tongue
Difficulty in eating and swallowing
Change in the colour of the tongue
Speech difficulty or disorder
Loss of papillae on the tongue surface



A dentist needs to assess your condition and also examine the mouth to check for abnormal bumps and blisters on the tongue, gums, and soft tissues on the mouth. Saliva and blood samples may be taken for necessary laboratory investigations.



Have good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily and floss at least once a day.
Use of medications in the form of antibiotics, antifungal and other antimicrobials may be prescribed if the swelling of the tongue is due to an infection.
Use dietary changes and supplements to treat anemia and nutritional deficiencies in case of iron deficiency.
Do not use irritants such as hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco to minimize any tongue disorder.

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