Glossitis Causes Treatment

Glossitis: Causes, Picture, Symptoms, and Treatment

Your tongue can suffer from inflammation or swelling. One of the common problems is glossitis, which causes irritation and soreness of the tongue. Certain deficiencies or reaction to food can result in an uncomfortable and painful condition. You may feel like your tongue is burning. So, the agonizing feeling can restrict your food intake. Glossitis is not a life-threatening condition. But, it can occur due to some underlying diseases that can harm your health. Therefore, you need to take adequate measures to overcome the problem. Intrigued? Then, read ahead to know more about it.

Some Interesting Tongue Facts

Before delving deep into glossitis, you need to know the facts about your tongue. Knowing the functions of the tongue will help you understand how the problem affects you. Your tongue is the organ that helps you taste the food, chew it, and swallow. It is also important for forming words to communicate with others. Your tongue is made of several small yet a mobile group of muscles. It is attached to your mouth’s floor. On top of your tongue, you have small bumps. The bumps known as papillae contain the taste buds. So, it helps in tasting the food you eat.

Normally, your tongue has a pink color. It has a shiny, thin, white coating on the surface. So, the texture indicates health. Some other variations also point to the normal health of the person. The tongue can indicate the presence of disease in your body. Unconvinced? Have you seen your doctor check your tongue first? With the tongue depressor, your doctor looks in the mouth during the physical examination to detect the presence of diseases. Therefore, the tongue reflects your health. It is the most instrumental organ that facilitates speaking and eating. So, even a small injury to the tongue can make you feel uncomfortable.

What Is Glossitis?

What Is Glossitis It is one of the common diseases that affect your tongue. The condition can trigger inflammation, change the color, and size of the tongue. So, it transforms the surface appearance of your tongue. You can also experience swelling and pain. As you use the tongue to chew and swallow, glossitis can make it uncomfortable. The problem can lead to the disappearance of the small bumps on your tongue’s surface (papillae). So, the disappearance of the taste buds due to the issue can change the way you eat. The tongue plays a vital role in speaking. Therefore, the tongue inflammation caused by glossitis can transform the way you speak to others.

Seeing a doctor for the condition is necessary. With the right medical assistance, you can avoid the agony and discomfort caused by the problem. It also detects the root cause of the problem that can prevent further health damage.

Type Of Glossitis

Glossitis is classified into different types based on the cause that triggers the problem. The different types of problem can exhibit different signs and symptoms in people. So, the classification includes:

Acute Glossitis

The problem has severe symptoms. It is the inflammation that appears all of a sudden. The inflammation occurs in the parenchyma tissue of the tongue. You can see the severity of the problem diminishing as days go by. But, it can end with blisters on your tongue. The main causes of the issue are:

  • Allergic Reaction
  • Burns from hot food/beverages
  • Accidentally biting the tongue
  • Bites of insects

Symptoms Of Acute Glossitis

The problem can cause few premonitory symptoms like:

  • Rapid swelling of the tongue
  • Pain/Distress
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Breathing obstruction
  • Discoloration of the tongue
  • Dry, cracked, and fissured appearance of the tongue
  • Swelling of salivary glands
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Quickening of pulse

You can experience the symptoms for three days. On the third day, the problem can reach its peak. Consult a doctor to get remedies to alleviate the symptoms and get relief.

Chronic Glossitis

Chronic Glossitis

It is the issue that can cause the inflammation of the tongue to recur. So, you suffer from pain and discomfort frequently. It mostly happens as an indication of a more serious issue with your health. Due to the issue, the mucous covering the tongue get affected. You can find the disease commonly in alcoholics. Individuals who use tobacco excessively can also suffer from it.

Symptoms Of Chronic Glossitis

The problem indicates the presence of some other diseases. Hence, people having chronic intestinal or stomach problems can face it. It exhibits the following signs:

  • Soreness of the tongue
  • Peculiar shapes and patches on the tongue
  • Persistent red tongue surface
  • Sensitive tongue
  • The absence of papillae on the tip
  • Cracked and furrowed surface/base
  • Smooth and glossy tongue

A medical professional can aid in detecting the presence of other diseases. It will ensure you get the treatment for the root cause of the problem. Therefore, it avoids other health complications.

Atrophic Glossitis

Atrophic glossitis can cause a smooth tongue. It is also known as Hunter glossitis, Moeller glossitis or bald tongue. The main reason for the issue is vitamin or iron deficiency. People have the following problem can experience the issue:

Symptoms Of Glossitis

The most common sign of the issue is the glossy and shiny appearance of the tongue. The problem changes the appearance and texture of the tongue. The other symptoms are:

  • Tender or painful tongue
  • Complete degeneration of lingual papillae
  • Appearance of patches
  • Burning sensation
  • Erythema

Seeking the advice of your doctor is necessary to overcome the problem. It will also help you get the remedy for the deficiencies your body has. So, you need to take the right steps at the appropriate time.

Causes Of Glossitis

Glossitis refers to all the tongue problem leading to the inflammation as well as swelling. The problem can turn the tongue into different shades of red. It also causes the tongue to have a smooth surface. So, the different types of the problem leading to the redness, pain, and swelling are:

Allergic Reaction

When your body reacts adversely to any food, medication or other irritants, it can affect the papillae. So, the allergic reaction can trigger the glossitis. The reaction can aggravate the muscle tissue in your tongue. Therefore, you can suffer from the issue due to the allergic reaction of the following substances:

  • Toothpaste
  • Breath Fresheners
  • Mouthwashes
  • Dyes used in candy
  • Plastic retainer/dentures
  • Blood Pressure (ACE inhibitors)


Some underlying health issues can trigger glossitis. The diseases can attack your immune system. So, in turn, affects the muscles and papillae of your tongue. The diseases caused by the virus or the deficiency of nutrients can lead to the problem. Therefore, it can cause the swelling, pain and glossy texture of the tongue. You can experience the problem with the following diseases.

Viral Diseases

The virus can attack your immune system can lead to the inflammation of the tongue. The common virus Herpes simplex, which causes cold sores, as well as blisters in the mouth, can trigger the issue. The virus can lead to the pain and swelling in your tongue.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Several diseases cause by the nutritional deficiency in your body can result in glossitis. The disease triggering the problem are:

  • Protein-Calorie Malnutrition
  • Celiac Disease
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Immune Problems

The diseases developed due to the immune system attack in your body can lead to the complication. Sjögren’s Syndrome is the main problem causing the changes in your mouth. Therefore, it can cause glossitis.



The fungal and yeast infection can also cause problems in your mouth. The most common one is oral thrush. Also known as oral candidiasis affecting the mucous membrane of the mouth can lead to glossitis. Therefore, the overgrowth of the organism can result in a sensitivity of the tongue.

Low Iron Levels

The low iron levels in your blood can trigger the problem of glossitis. Iron is crucial for your body as it can regulate cell growth. So, iron plays an important role in the production of the blood red cells and carry the oxygen to all the organs. The oxygen-rich blood can enrich your tissue, muscles, and all the vital organs in your body. So, the low iron levels in the blood can lead to diminished myoglobin levels. When the myoglobin levels (protein in your red blood cells) reduces, it affects the muscle health. Therefore, it affects the tongue muscle tissue leading to glossitis.

Mouth Trauma

The injuries or trauma you experience in the mouth can affect the condition of the tongue. The common causes of mouth trauma are:

  • Cuts/burns to the tongue
  • Injury due to the dental appliances (braces) on the teeth

The cuts and burns can lead to tongue inflammation and increase the swelling. The dental braces are responsible for the chronic glossitis as it can cause repeated injuries to mouth and tongue.

Skin Condition

Some of the skin condition can affect your tongue surface causing the problems. Some of the common condition leading to glossitis are:

  • Erythema Multiform
  • Aphthous Ulcers
  • Syphilis
  • Pemphigus Vulgaris
  • Oral Lichen Planus


Your diet also plays an important role in increasing the chances of the glossitis. The food items causing the problems are:

  • Hot Foods
  • Spicy food items

The other harmful substance use like alcohol and tobacco can affect the tongue surface and affect the taste buds.

Dry Mouth

Another common issue that invokes the glossitis is the dry mouth. The condition restricts the production of saliva due to the destruction of salivary glands.

As the tongue is the crucial organ in your communication and food consumption, you can experience discomfort due to problems. Problems like glossitis can change the way a patient eats or speaks. Therefore, you need to take the right steps to alleviate the complication.

People At Risk Of Glossitis

Some people are more prone to getting a tongue problem compared to others. The factors that increase your risk of getting glossitis are:

  • You suffer a mouth injury
  • Eat spicy food regularly
  • Prone to food allergies
  • Have an immune system disorder
  • Wear dentures or braces frequently that causes irritation
  • Have herpes or other viral infections

Symptoms Of Glossitis

You have read about the individual symptoms of each type of glossitis. But, when you see the following symptoms, you need to take immediate action. The general symptoms of the problem include:

  • Swelling of your tongue
  • Pain or tenderness of the tongue
  • Discoloration of the tongue
  • The loss of taste buds (papillae) on the surface of the tongue
  • Inability to speak
  • Difficulty in Eating/swallowing

So, when you experience the above-mentioned symptoms, you need to take an appointment for your doctor. Getting swift medical help can prevent further complication. It also helps alleviate the pain and discomfort in your life.

Diagnosis Of Glossitis

When you experience the symptoms discussed, you need to see a doctor. You can either visit a physician or a dentist for the assessment of the condition. The doctor can evaluate the condition and diagnose for glossitis using the following methods.

Check Medical History

The doctor asks for your medical history and your food habits. It can shed light on the actual cause of the problem. Your symptoms, as well as discomfort, get noted down for further evaluation. So, it will help your doctor take the necessary steps.

Physical Examination

The doctor performs the physical examination of the mouth. The main aim to check for the abnormal blisters or bumps in the mouth. The gums, tongue, and soft tissue of your mouth gets thoroughly checked.

Lab Testing

The doctor sends the samples of the saliva swab and the blood work to the laboratory. The examination can reveal the presence of infection, nutritional deficiency, or other underlying health conditions. Therefore, it can help diagnose the problem precisely.

Glossitis Treatment Methods

Depending on the severity of the issue, your doctor can recommend the precise treatment option. Home care is also important for overcoming glossitis. So, the combination of the medications and home remedies can ensure you kick the problem to the curb.


Your doctor prescribes the medication depending on the actual cause of the problem. So, it makes sure the underlying problem is completely overcome.


The glossitis caused due to the infection requires proper treatment to overcome the complications. Therefore, depending on the cause of infection, your doctor provides medications like:

  • Bacterial Infection: Topical Corticosteroids
  • Fungal Infection: Antifungal medication
  • Viral Infection: An antiviral medication

The medication can eliminate redness, soreness, and swelling. It is also successful in removing the bacterial, viral, and fungal presence from your body.

Dietary Supplements

If the nutritional deficiency is the cause of the issue, then your doctor provides medications to rectify it. Like for example, if the iron deficiency triggers the problem, you get the iron supplements. It adds the missing nutrient to your bloodstream. Therefore, getting the missing nutrients into your diet is important to overcome glossitis.

In some cases, nutritional deficiency is caused by an underlying condition like celiac disease. Hence, you need to make changes to your diet according to the doctor’s orders. It helps to manage the underlying condition.

Home Care For Glossitis

Good dental hygiene is important to keep all the complication of mouth. It also improves the health of the teeth, gums, and tongue. Therefore, brushing and flossing are necessary to prevent the condition. Getting suggestions from your dentist to take good care for your mouth can also prevent complications. You can use the home remedies to overcome glossitis:

  • Use aloe vera gel on the selling or inflammation to ensure swift healing.
  • Swoosh chamomile tea around your mouth to heal the sensitivity.
  • Gargling with basil water can also prevent the glossitis from worsening.

Prevention Of Glossitis

It is not possible to completely prevent glossitis from affecting your life. But, you can take adequate steps to lower the risk of developing it.

  • Including a healthy diet can reduce the problem from affecting your health. It avoids any nutritional deficiency in your body. So, it can prevent glossitis triggered due to the lack of nutrients.
  • A good oral hygiene can prevent many mouth related diseases. Therefore, you need to brush regularly. The flossing and using a good mouthwash can prevent the bacterial or yeast buildup.
  • Avoid irritant substances affect your taste buds. Hence, you need to avoid spicy food that can trigger inflammation of the tongue. You also need to avoid acidic food that can worsen the problem. Quitting bad habits like cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drugs can also reduce the risk of getting the problem.


The prognosis for glossitis is very good. It is not a severe condition leading to fatal complications. So, with proper treatment and care, you can overcome the problem. The changes in your diet and proper oral hygiene can prevent the issue. Avoiding spicy foods can also reduce the probability of getting the disease. The issue can clear on its own or you can seek treatment. Getting medical treatment can swiftly heal the problem. Talk to your doctor if you feel discomfort or the symptoms never improve. If you feel difficulty in breathing, go to emergency care. It may indicate a serious health issue. Therefore, with adequate care, you can eliminate the distress of glossitis from your life.

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