Your Tongue Is Trying to Tell You Something Important About Your Health
Pain, itching, funky spots and odors—your body is always dropping you clues about what’s going on with your health. But there’s one body part you probably don’t consider when you’re trying to get a hold on your overall wellbeing: your tongue. Diagnosing illnesses and conditions based on the color and texture of the tongue is a staple of Chinese and Western medicine, and it’s not for nothing that doctors ask patients to open up and say ahhhh.
With this in mind, a team of researchers made the tongue the focus of a new diagnostic system designed to help people who live in remote areas. This computerized system can answer user questions about symptoms and take a digitized image of the tongue, then offer a diagnosis.
Luckily, if you’re reading this, you probably do have some sort of access to a medical professional. So grab a hand mirror, open wide, then read the info below to find out what your tongue is trying to tell you—and if you recognize any of these symptoms, check in with your GP or dentist for a proper diagnosis.
- A smooth, pale surface. Tongues are supposed to be a little bumpy, but if yours is smooth, it could be a sign of a B12 or iron deficiency.
- Black discoloration or a hairy tongue: As revolting as this term sounds, it doesn’t actually mean your tongue is really sprouting hair follicles; it just looks like it because secretions have accumulated on the surface and turned dark. It’s a tip-off that your oral hygiene needs an upgrade. Poor oral health sets you up for a higher risk of heart disease.
- A too-big tongue. If your tongue feels swollen or looks kind of large, it could indicate that you have hypothyroidism. This means you’re not producing enough thyroid hormone, which also slows down your metabolism and sinks your energy.
- A fissured tongue. If you notice deep cracks or grooves on the surface or sides, you may have an autoimmune disorder.
- A white tongue. This could also be a sign of a fungal infection, which is a clue that something else is going on that has upset the natural levels of fungus-fighting bacteria in the mouth.
- Frequent canker sores. Doctors aren’t sure why these super annoying, painful sores pop up. But they tend to show when you’re stressed, have consumed spicy food, or are battling a cold or flu and your immune system is working overtime. These you can take care of yourself: Soothe them with an OTC ointment, and stick to bland foods that won’t irritate the sores.