White Coated Tongue
White coated tongue is only a symptom which may occur in different medical conditions. It most commonly occurs in patients who are suffering from oral thrush and oropharingeal candidiasis. The white color of the film on the tongue originated from the fungi called Candida.
The overgrowth of these fungi is caused by improper function of immune system. Namely, immunocompromised patients develop opportunistic infections and oral and oropharingeal candidiasis are only some of them. Opportunistic infections are those which occur only in people with insufficient immune system and are caused by infective agents which do not lead to infections in people with normal and healthy immune system.
White coated tongue can also affect relatively healthy people who are taking antibiotics for longer period of time. Even some other medications like corticosteroids or birth control pills can lead to white coated tongue. The basic concept in these cases is that medications destroy good bacteria allowing Candida to uncontrollably multiply.
White patches on the tongue are painful and cannot be separated from the tongue. In some patients beneath these white patches, the surface of the tongue becomes inflamed.
White coated tongue is also regularly seen in newborn babies who are breastfed.
Symptoms of White Coated Tongue
White patches can be seen all over the mouth or they can be only localized on the tongue. Apart from white patches the tongue may be red and inflamed and in some cases the inflammation may cause tingling sensations. Discomfort in some patients can interfere with chewing and swallowing of the food.
Causes of White Coated Tongue
As it has already been mentioned Candida most commonly attacks immunocompromised people. They include HIV patients and people who are suffering from cancer. Dryness of the mouth can be predisposing factor to oral candidiasis. Pregnant women may also face problem with white coated tongue. People who are on prolonged therapy with certain medications can also experience this condition. And white coated tongue has also been reported in heavy smokers.
Treatment for White Coated Tongue
Adequate oral hygiene including brushing and flossing is essential in all cases. Some patients are prescribed oral fluconasole. Others may benefit from Nystatin suspension or Clotrimasole troches. Acidophilus pills can increase the number of 'good bacteria'.
Some believe that drinking of yogurt can be effective in elimination of white film of the tongue. Still milk and dairy products can only enhance the growth of Candida so they are not very suitable for the treatment. Fresh oxygen in a form of gargle can alleviate the symptoms.