Tongue ulcers are painful or painless excavations of the tongue. They are also known as aphtous ulcers. Some of the tongue ulcers are benign while others are malignant and actually represent the tongue cancer. Only pathohistological examination of the specimens taken during biopsy can help in setting of the correct diagnosis. Tongue ulcers which do not withdraw within specifically determined length of time, especially if the patient is prescribed certain therapy, must be further investigated and biopted because they may point to the onset of a malignant disease.
Tongue ulcers can develop due to chronic irritation or inflammation. They are also symptoms of certain illnesses.
Symptoms and Signs of Tongue Ulcers
The leading symptom is the very presence of the ulcer. It can affect any part of the tongue. The color of the lesion can be pink or intensively red if additional inflammation occurs. Tongue ulcers are basically painless lesions. In some cases, they may bleed.
The patient who is suffering from tongue ulcer may complain about burning sensations on the tongue. He/ she may also have difficulties with chewing and swallowing. This often occurs if ulcers are accompanied with inflammation of the tongue. Prickling or burning sensations can be additionally increased by spicy and sour food. Even too hot food may cause discomfort.
Before the actual ulcer fully develops a person may feel or see small buds on the tongue. These buds will open after a while and develop into a tongue ulcer.
Causes of Tongue Ulcers
Inadequate and vigorous brushing of the teeth can result in tongue ulcers. Even toothpastes or mouthwashes which contain corrosive substances can after certain period of time induce tongue ulcers.
These oral lesions commonly occur in certain conditions such as pemphigus vulgaris and herpes simplex virus infection.
Improper diet including too hot or too spicy food can result in mouth and tongue ulcers.
These lesions commonly affect heavy smokers and alcoholics.
People who are suffering from stomach ulcers are also susceptible to mouth ulcers including tongue ulcers.
And finally, in some people tongue ulcers are malignant tumors of this organ.
Treatment for Tongue Ulcers
The treatment of tongue ulcers is determined by the underlying cause of the disease. Some patients are prescribed glycerin which is applied directly onto the affected part of the tongue. Change of toothpaste or mouthwashes as well as proper brushing of teeth can prevent further ulcers from occurring. In some people taking additional supplements can help with healing of the tongue lesion. One should avoid too hot food as well as too spicy and sour food.
And finally, if tongue ulcers linger in spite of the therapy one should report this to his/ her doctor.