What is Glossitis?


is a condition in which the tongue gets inflamed and changes color. The tongue and mouth plays an important role in our digestive health. The tongue and mouth is the first starting point of the digestive tract where the breaking down of the food begins. The swelling, pain and discomfort associated with the condition can severely hamper digestion and general well being.

Causes of Glossitis

  • Bacterial or Viral infections including that of oral herpes simplex.
  • Dehydration, dry mouth and low saliva can encourage proliferation of bacteria.
  • Exposure to environmental allergens causing food allergies, chemicals in toothpaste, mouth wash, dyes in candy, plastic or metal in dentures and retainers etc.
  • Exposure to irritants consumed such as tobacco, alcohol, hot foods or spices.
  • Physical injury from burns, a rough edged tooth, dental appliances, tongue piercing jewelry and related infection or other trauma.
  • Hypertension medications like ACE inhibitors.
  • Nutritional deficiencies like iron deficiency, pernicious anaemia (deficiency due to malabsorption of Vitamin B-12) and other B vitamin deficiencies.
  • Yeast infection in oral cavity.
  • A particular bronchodilator medication Albuterol is known to cause it.
  • Skin conditions such as oral lichen planus, erythema multiform, apthous ulcers, pemphigus vulgaris, syphilis etc.



  • Inflammation of tongue. Sometimes the tongue can get swollen enough to be block the airways. This brings about a medical emergency.
  • The normal texture on the surface of the tongue includes small projections known as pappilae. They are made of receptor cells which induces the taste of food eaten. The discussed disease causes the tongue to get smooth losing all the pappilae over it.
  • Tongue changes color and gets a red beefy color.
  • A sore feeing in mouth because of tenderness in tongue.
  • Difficulty in swallowing, chewing and talking.

Treatment of Glossitis

  • Medications are administered to bring down the tongue inflammation first.
  • Hospitalization is not needed unless medical emergency is caused by blockage of airways from severe swelling of tongue.
  • Corticosteroids like prednisone are administered to reduce swelling.
  • For milder symptoms, prednisone mouth wash is generally prescribed.
  • Oral hygiene should be taken care of very well by brushing teeth twice daily and flossing at least once a day.
  • Eliminate food having allergens known to cause irritation from diet.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, hot and spicy food.
  • When bacteria is responsible for causing the condition, it is generally taken care of with antibiotics, anti fungal or anti microbial medications.
  • Anemia and nutritional deficiencies are treated with dietary recommendations and nutritional supplements.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help in hydrating the body well and preventing symptoms like dry mouth.

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