We all have one, but how much do you really know about your tongue? You might be surprised to learn your tongue can tell you some interesting things about your health.
A fat tongue could be a warning sign for sleep apnea.
A recent study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the tongues of obese people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were larger with more fat. “Previous studies showed that the human tongue has a high percentage of fat, and that tongue fat and tongue weight were positively correlated with the degree of obesity,” the study’s senior author Richard J. Schwab, M.D., said in a statement. “This is the first study that examined OSA patients and found higher fat deposits in obstructive sleep apnea patients than in those without OSA.”
Tongue color can give your doctor hints about your health.
A healthy tongue is a nice pink shade — except for right after it has devoured blue ice cream or purple candy.
When your tongue is not its normal pink color, you could have an underlying health issue. Below are other colors your tongue may be and what they could mean.
Red. A red (not dark pink) tongue could indicate as something as simple as a B vitamin deficiency, which can be remedied by supplementation. Scarlet fever, eczema, and Kawasaki disease may also cause your tongue to turn red. Red patches with white borders along your tongue is a rare, but harmless condition called geographic tongue.
Purple. Heart problems and poor overall blood circulation may cause your tongue to turn purple. A purple tongue may also be seen in Kawasaki disease.
Blue. Blue tongue may be indicative of poor oxygen circulation in the blood. This may be attributed to lung problems or kidney disease.
Yellow. Your tongue may have a yellow appearance if you smoke or use chewing tobacco. Sometimes jaundice and psoriasis may also cause yellow tongue.
Gray. Sometimes digestive issues may cause your tongue to turn gray. Peptic ulcers or eczema may also be to blame.
White. A white tongue is usually caused by white patches that grow on the surface. These are usually caused by fungal infections, such as oral thrush. Antifungal medications can clear these patches up. White tongue may also be caused by benign conditions such as leukoplakia or oral lichen planus, which creates the appearance of white lines. Sometimes leukoplakia may become cancerous.
Brown. This is usually harmless and caused by what you eat and drink. However, tobacco use is another cause of brown tongue, a harmful habit that could potentially lead to signs of oral cancer in the tongue, such as sores.
Black. A dark brown to black tongue is most commonly attributed to