Tongue inflammation: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and causes

An inflamed tongue is an unpleasant condition because the tongue swells considerably and becomes slippery and red. This infection is known as glossitis. The inflammation usually disappears quickly with proper treatment. There are various causes for an inflamed tongue.


  • Sore tongue
  • Swollen tongue
  • Sensitive tongue
  • Tongue has smooth surface
  • Tongue turns bright red
  • Cracks in the tongue
  • Swallowing, chewing and talking hurt

The complaints can vary greatly depending on the cause. With a herpes infection, the tongue becomes covered with tender white spots. With a fungal infection, small white painful spots can be seen on the tongue.


An inflamed tongue can be caused by various causes. In most cases there is a wound on the tongue. This can be caused by, among other things, poorly fitting dentures, drinking too hot drinks, improperly fitting braces and rough parts of the teeth. Irritating factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating spicy dishes can also trigger glossitis. An inflammation of the tongue is often a result of a fungal infection or a viral infection (for example herpes simplex). In less common cases, the cause is iron deficiency, a lack of a B vitamin or a deficiency of folic acid. Sometimes oral hygiene products trigger a tongue infection due to an allergic reaction. Products that can trigger this are toothpaste, mouthwash drinks and breath fresheners.


The diagnosis of glossitis can often be made quickly. A swollen and red tongue indicates an inflamed tongue. The treating physician may take a smear to determine the cause of the glossitis. The blood can also be tested to see whether, for example, there is a deficiency of iron or certain vitamins. Saliva is also suitable for research to determine which microbe is responsible for the inflamed tongue.


The treatment of a tongue infection depends on the cause of the infection. Antibiotics can be prescribed for a bacterial infection and a fungicide for a fungus. If there is a lack of vitamins or iron, the doctor may prescribe supplements to correct the deficiency so that the inflammation does not return. An inflamed tongue is extremely painful and uncomfortable. This bad feeling can be reversed by rinsing your mouth often with saline solution and mouthwash. There is a mouthwash that relieves pain. It is advisable not to smoke during the tongue infection and to avoid spicy and sour food so as not to make the pain worse. Glossitis can often go away quickly without treatment.

Adjust nutrition

If there is a deficiency of iron and/or vitamin B, it is advisable to adjust the diet. This can be done by eating products that contain a lot of iron and/or vitamin B. This includes eating liver, beef, nuts and eggs. Whole grain products contain a lot of iron. The body is able to absorb a lot of iron from fish and meat more easily than iron from vegetables, fruit and grain. Drinking a lot of tea and coffee ensures that iron is not quickly absorbed into the body. It is therefore better not to drink these drinks too often if you have a deficiency of iron and/or vitamin B.

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