Geographic tongue is a medical condition characterized by irregular red and swollen patches on the tongue, which make the tongue look something like a geographic map. The patches may or may not be surrounded by white lining. The condition is also called benign migratory glossitis; migratory, because the patches tend to change place. This condition can affect anyone, although it seems to run in families.
Geographic tongue may cause some mild pain and tingling or burning, especially when eating salty, acidic or spicy foods.
Causes of geographic tongue
The exact cause of geographic tongue is not completely known. Experts believe the patches are result of the loss of papillae or tiny bumps on the surface of the tongue. However, the reason behind the loss of papillae is uncertain. Since geographic tongue runs in families, the reason might be genetic.
Some foods seem to trigger the symptoms of geographic tongue, like cheese and other dairy products. In addition, geographic tongue is often seen in people who suffer from diabetes, psoriasis, anemia, eczema and stress.
Treatment for geographic tongue
Geographic tongue is a benign and harmless condition that resolves on its own very quickly. Furthermore, there is no specific cure for it, but there definitely are things one can do to speed up the recovery.
Reducing the levels of stress is one of the key elements in treatment of geographic tongue. Whether the stress is physical, emotional or psychological, it should be managed with various relaxation techniques.
Nutrition is also very important. It is recommended to make sure to eat foods rich in all the essential nutrients and to consider taking supplements, because geographic tongue is often associated with certain nutrient deficiencies. It is also important to keep the digestive system healthy so the nutrients can be properly absorbed.
As for the beverages, sodas and other sugary drinks should be avoided, as well as alcohol. On the other hand, people who suffer from geographic tongue are encouraged to drink as much water as possible.
Because some experts suspect that geographic tongue may be caused by microbial agents, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene through frequent brushing and flossing, using antibacterial mouthwash and tongue scraper.
It may also help to cleanse and detoxify the colon, because it is often the underlying cause of many ailments. In addition, keeping the levels of yeast at bay seems to play a role in prevention and treatment of geographic tongue too.