Glossitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Glossitis refers to both acute and chronic changes in the entire body of the tongue. Tongue inflammation is not limited to a specific age or gender, but can affect anyone.

What is glossitis?

In isolated cases, blisters and nodules form on the tongue, which hurt greatly when touched. In children, glossitis can cause other complaints, such as nausea and vomiting or temporary personality changes.
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The glossitis or inflammation of the tongue can affect the surface, the mucous membrane and also the muscle of the tongue. The entire tongue is inflamed, often plaque and discoloration are visible on its surface.

The tongue can burn and greatly enlarge. The swelling and burning are of varying intensity, so speaking and swallowing can be difficult. Depending on the trigger of the inflammation, itching may also occur.

The suspension of the sense of taste is rather rare, but does happen. Such inflammation is of course quite unpleasant, but in most cases the entire health balance is not disturbed.


The causes of glossitis are diverse. Most of the time, however, an injury while eating is the cause of this inflammation – you bite your tongue. Piercings also cause such problems. Anyone who wears a denture that does not fit properly and therefore chafes can also expect glossitis.

Heavy smokers are also at risk. But it is not only through external influence that the tongue can become inflamed. Food allergies or hypersensitivity to other substances can become visible through the symptoms mentioned. The reason for glossitis can also be a fungal infection. In the case of serious weaknesses of the immune system, for example AIDS, the body can react with inflammation of the tongue.

This also applies to serious diseases such as tongue cancer. In all diseases that change the normal flow of saliva, inflammation of the tongue can occur. Last but not least, permanent burning of the tongue can indicate manifest nervous disorders.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

Glossitis can be manifested by a number of symptoms. Typical for the disease are pain and swelling of the tongue. The characteristic tongue burning is usually accompanied by [8taste disturbances]], [8difficulty swallowing]] and itching. Often a foul-smelling coating forms on the tongue. Many sufferers also feel increasing itching in the mouth.

If the glossitis is not treated, further symptoms may occur in the further course. As a result of the lack of food intake, it can lead to an undersupply, which can manifest itself, among other things, by fatigue and dizziness. Furthermore, bleeding in the oral cavity may occur. Externally, glossitis can be recognized primarily by the reddened tongue.

In isolated cases, blisters and nodules form on the tongue, which hurt greatly when touched. In children, glossitis can cause other complaints, such as nausea and vomiting or temporary personality changes. Due to the sometimes very severe pain, it then comes to outbursts of anger or apathy, for example.

Parents who notice such signs should immediately take the child to the pediatrician. Although glossitis is not a serious disease, major complications can be reliably avoided through early clarification and treatment.

Diagnosis & course

The diagnosis of glossitis usually does not pose major problems for the doctor. If the patient describes the symptoms, it is not difficult to draw conclusions about the disorder at hand. The doctor can look at the mouth and tongue and thus confirm his suspicion.

However, it becomes significantly more difficult if the tongue inflammation is a symptom of another disease. Then the trigger must be found out with detailed examinations. So the doctor can make a smear to find out possible fungal infestation.

If the inflamed tongue is the result of an allergy, this can be found out by suitable test procedures (patch test or prick test). In most cases, foods and oral care products are checked.


As a rule, glossitis affects both sexes equally. The disease can also occur in children. It comes to increased complaints and symptoms on the train. First and foremost, the patient suffers from a strong burning sensation on the tongue. The tongue may also be swollen.

The burning sensation causes disturbances in the absorption of food and liquid, so that it is not uncommon for underweight or dehydration to occur. Glossitis thus reduces the quality of life enormously. There are also taste disorders and discomfort when swallowing. Especially in children, this can be dangerous and lead to ingestion.

A coating forms on the tongue, which can lead to unpleasant odors. The everyday life of the affected person is enormously restricted by the glossitis. There may also be psychological complaints due to the pain and limitations.

As a rule, relatively simple treatment of glossitis is possible. This is done with the help of antibiotics or mouthwashes and quickly leads to a positive course of the disease. There are no further complications. In case of allergy or intolerance, the corresponding substance must be avoided.

When to go to the doctor?

If there is swelling of the tongue or mucous membranes in the mouth, a doctor should be consulted. An unusual taste in the mouth or changes in taste perception should be presented to a doctor. In case of a furry or very smooth feeling on the tongue, a doctor’s visit is also required.

If the affected person suffers from pain in the mouth, this is considered unusual and should be examined. Medical treatment is also necessary as soon as there are impairments of vocalization. A limited or unclear speech formation must be clarified medically. If food intake or hydration is refused due to the symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. If the symptoms lead to weight loss or a feeling of dryness inside the body, there is an urgent need for action.

There is a risk of an acute health hazard in which medical care is necessary as soon as possible. In case of difficulty swallowing, problems with existing dentures, tightness in the mouth or itching, a doctor should be consulted. Bad breath, plaque on the tongue or discolouration of the tongue should be examined and treated. If a burning sensation is perceived inside the mouth, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of simple glossitis is not particularly difficult. Special therapy is not necessary in most cases. With rinses of the mouth and throat, the inflammation heals quickly.

Rinses with sage or salt water are suitable here. In the chronic form of glossitis, the cause plays the decisive role. If an infestation with fungi was the cause of the tongue inflammation, the doctor can prescribe an , ie a remedy for the fungal infection. If bacteria are responsible for the disease, an antibiotic can help. If there is an allergic reaction, the triggering substance must be avoided.

The healing process can also be supported with herbal remedies. Marshmallow leaves or marshmallow roots, witch hazel or ribwort plantain can alleviate the symptoms and contribute to healing as a tea or gargle solution. The chances of recovery from glossitis are generally very good. If the causes of the problems with the tongue can be figured out, the inflammation can heal within a few days.

Outlook & Forecast

The chance of recovery in the diagnosis of glossitis is extremely favorable. In some cases, there is even an improvement without treatment. The duration of the disease is usually a few days. It depends on whether the upper or lower layers are affected.

Patients can make a contribution to stop the characteristic tongue burning. You should refrain from nicotine during treatment. Spicy foods should also be avoided. Allergy sufferers also refrain from consuming foods that trigger a reaction.

If doctors only try to reduce the acute tongue burning, relief is not always satisfactory. The correct diagnosis leads to a final cure. What used to lead to problems is now regularly carried out correctly. It must be clarified where the inflammation of the tongue mucosa comes from. Oral antibiotics and topical medications provide excellent results in many cases.

If you start a wrong treatment, the symptoms are only reduced for a short time. In the worst case, the inflammation spreads to the teeth and gums. Even feverish conditions can then occur. The taste buds are temporarily disturbed. Difficulty swallowing and speaking are possible.


Preventive measures can prevent glossitis. For example, wearers of dentures should make sure that the denture fits correctly and is well adapted. If the immune system is weakened by a disease, special attention should be paid to oral hygiene.

Wearers of tongue piercings must also pay great attention to the hygiene of teeth and mouth. Heavy smokers should implement a reduction in their tobacco consumption. In general, rinses with disinfectants and anti-inflammatory agents are a good choice to give glossitis no chance.


In the case of glossitis, the possibilities of aftercare are only possible to a very limited extent. As a rule, the affected person is always dependent on medical treatment first to alleviate the symptoms and limit the disease. Self-healing of glossitis usually does not occur.

In most cases, the patient is dependent on rinsing the oral cavity by various means. These can either be purchased at the drugstore or prescribed directly by a doctor. Regular use should be ensured in order to completely limit glossitis.

Even after the symptoms have subsided, further treatment is usually necessary to completely limit the glossitis. In some cases, however, the symptoms may recur, so that re-treatment is necessary. Proper oral hygiene is also important and should always be observed.

In severe cases, glossitis is treated with the help of antibiotics. Care should be taken regularly. Antibiotics should not be taken with alcohol. In children, parents need to pay attention to regular and correct intake. As a rule, glossitis does not reduce the life expectancy of the patient.

What you can do yourself

Glossitis can usually be treated by those affected themselves. The inflammation heals quickly if the mouth and throat are treated with a suitable rinse. Suitable are, for example, rinses with salt water, or chamomile.

The chronic form of glossitis can also be self-treated, depending on the cause. However, the doctor should always prescribe an antifungal drug, the effects of which can then be supported by However, the and other preparations from naturopathy and homeopathy.

Recovery can also be accelerated by herbal remedies. Among other things, marshmallow leaves roots as well as ribwort plantainand , which can be taken as a gargle solution or tea and usually relieve the symptoms quickly, have proven themselves. In the event of an allergic reaction, the most important measure is to avoid the triggering substance.

If the cause is not known, a complaint diary should be created. This allows the doctor or patient to determine the trigger himself and take targeted countermeasures. If the symptoms have not subsided after two weeks at the latest, a return visit to the responsible doctor is recommended.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.