Stand before the mirror and open your mouth. Do you see smooth patches or lesions on your tongue? You may be suffering from a condition known as Geographic Tongue.
What is Geographic Tongue?
Picture 1 – Geographic Tongue
Source – demandstudios
Geographic Tongue is a peculiar syndrome that is marked by the appearance of lesions or patchy spots on the tongue. These patches look like road maps on the tongue. This is the reason why the disease is known as Geographic Tongue.
A study has shown approximately 3 % of the population in the US suffering from the syndrome. About 0.1 to 14.3 % people are said to be having this condition at any given time. The disease affects both men and women. However, females are seen to be twice as much susceptible to the condition than males. It can affect people of all age groups, though cases of Geographic Tongue in children are not as high as in adults. Geographic Tongue in adults is much more common.
Benign Migratory Glossitis is the medical name for this disease.
Geographic Tongue Symptoms
Picture 2 – Geographic Tongue Photo
Source – ehow
Much like other diseases, Geographic Tongue syndrome also gives rise to a number of symptoms. These are:
As aforesaid, Geographic Tongues are characterized by the appearance of patches on the tongue. These spots or patches are red in color, bordered by grayish white or yellowish lines. The small bumps or papillae that you can normally see on the tongue disappear in the patches.
In patients with Geographic Tongue pain is not very common. There may be pain, or a tender sensation, in the affected parts of the tongue if you touch them.
Shifting and Recurring Lesions
The little spots may keep appearing and reappearing and also come with changes in shape and size. This is the reason why spots are also known as wandering rashes of the tongue. The patches may heal in one region of the tongue and migrate to another.
Irritation or Burning Sensation
The condition does not cause pain but sufferers may experience a burning sensation or irritation while eating spicy foods and other items like walnuts, eggplant, tomato and sour dishes.
Some people also feel numbness in the affected part of their tongue.
The person may also suffer from itchiness in the affected part of the tongue.
In a few cases, fissures are also seen to appear on the tongue. This happens particularly after the use of chemicals like teeth whitener or mouth washes.
Geographic Tongue Causes
Picture 3 - Geographic Tongue Image
Source – fbcdn
What causes Geographic Tongue? This is something that all sufferers of this syndrome are very curious to know after they have spotted lesions on their tongue. Generally, Geographic Tongue disorder is said to originate due to reasons like
In many people suffering from Geographic Tongue stress is found to be a causative agent. Excessive stress can be a cause of various physical abnormalities including Geographic Tongue.
In many people suffering from Geographic Tongue allergies are often found to be a causative agent. The tongue suffers from an allergy in such cases. Geographic Tongue and allergies are common in many patients.
Changes in hormone level can also trigger this condition sometimes. Geographic Tongue and hormones have been a subject for many medical research.
The disorder may also arise if the sufferer has a family history of this condition.
Eating hot and spicy foods can irritate certain areas of the tongue and be a cause of this syndrome.
A lack of Vitamin B can also give rise to this disorder. Low Vitamin B level can also be one of the causes of Geographic Tongue problems.
The systemic use of steroid can also be a cause of Geographic Tongue disease.
This condition arises due to an allergic reaction after the tongue comes in contact with an irritating substance.
The white or yellow lines can arise if the tongue suffers a yeast infection. Geographic Tongue and yeast attack give a very abnormal appearance to the tongue. Geographic Tongue yeast infection is also seen in most patients with the disease.
Deep grooves can also be found on the tongue surface if the person has fissures on the tongue.
Map like patches can also develop over the tongue due to this chronic skin disease, characterized by dry red spots covered with scales.
Tongue spots can also be seen in some people who are sensitive to fruits like pineapple, tomatoes and strawberries.
Geographic Tongue Treatment
There is no specific treatment for Geographic Tongue. Doctors normally try a few methods to cure the disorder. These include
If patients suffer from a burning sensation in the tongue, doctors normally prescribe antihistamines as a cure for Geographic Tongue. Antihistamines can suppress the burning feeling and provide temporary Geographic Tongue relief.
Vitamin B Supplements
If lack of Vitamin B causes Geographic Tongue Vitamin Deficiency may be compensated with supplements.
The topical application of steroid ointments on the affected tongue region can also be a cure for this syndrome. Corticosteroids are very popular Geographic Tongue medications of steroidal nature.
Over-the-counter medications are normally enough to cure mild Geographic Tongue cases. More serious cases require treatment by physicians.
Geographic Tongue Remedies at Home
You can also use some lifestyle modifications to treat this condition at home. If you suspect eating spicy foods have caused this disorder, you can avoid them for the time being till the patches vanish from the tongue.
Persons who are oversensitive to fruits can refrain from eating them. However, it must be made sure that the person is actually suffering from a hypersensitivity caused due to the particular fruit that he or she is thinking of avoiding.
Avoiding toothpastes containing a lot of flavoring can also help cure the syndrome.
Geographic Tongue Natural Remedies
Zinc intake is one of the widely known Geographic Tongue natural cures. In some cases, a weak immune system may lead to this disorder. Zinc intake boosts the immune system of a person. The mineral also reduces the symptoms in the person. Zinc supplements are also administered to some Geographic Tongue patients for this reason. However, zinc supplements are not a certain way to cure Geographic Tongue. Geographic Tongue zinc cure is found to be effective in only a few cases.
Geographic Tongue Diet
A typical diet for Geographic Tongue patients should not include hot and spicy dishes. Fruits that cause irritation should also be kept out from the menu. In many people suffering from Geographic Tongue food allergies are held as a causative factor.
Geographic Tongue Pictures
Understanding this condition may be quite difficult for some people. Here are some pictures of Geographic Tongue that will help you get a visual understanding of the disease. Check out these Geographic Tongue photos and know how the disease looks like. These Geographic Tongue images will show you the appearance of the syndrome.
Picture 4 – Geographic Tongue Picture
Source – ispub
Picture 5 – Geographic Tongue Picture
Source – maxillofacialcenter
Does Geographic Tongue Go Away?
Will Geographic Tongue go away? This is something that worries most sufferers of this syndrome. Contrary to the startling appearance that it causes, Geographic Tongue is not a serious disease. It does not cause any health complications. It is not related to any cancerous or infectious condition either. However, the disease can be painful and cause discomfort and tenderness in tongue. This can affect daily activities like eating. Treatment is very important in such cases. With effective treatment and lifestyle modifications, the condition usually goes away in a few days.
If you find symptoms of Geographic Tongue in kids or adults in your family, it is best to try natural remedies. However, you should ideally get immediate treatment from a professional medical practitioner.
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Written by anirudh
on February 5th, 2011. The article was last updated on September 2nd, 2011