What the tongue reveals

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A spotty tongue indicates the stomach

It is a real all-rounder: the tongue. Without them, many everyday things like tasting, speaking, sucking or swallowing would not be possible. In addition, the surface of the tongue contains many cells of the immune system. But the tongue is also a mirror of health. It can be used to recognize innumerable changes and illnesses. In traditional Chinese medicine, consideration of the tongue is even one of the most important diagnostic methods. But in this country too, doctors know how to interpret changes.

A healthy tongue is pink with a light white coating. Their surface is moist, smooth and even. "Health disorders manifest themselves by changing the color, shape or coating of the tongue," explains Dr. Uso Walter, ENT specialist from Duisburg and chairman of the ENT-NRW. "For example, the tongue may be thicker or thinner, more heavily coated or reddened, or there may suddenly be tooth prints on the edge of the tongue." Increased trembling of the tongue muscle also provides an indication of illnesses. An increase in the size of the tongue with visible tooth impressions and an increased coating speaks for example for a lack of energy. Shivering of the tongue with bluish-jammed veins under the tongue is the result of severe stress. Heart problems show up in a reddened tip of the tongue. Spotty changes in the surface, also called map tongue, indicate stomach problems, while intestinal problems are often visible through a thick coating in the back of the tongue. A distinction must be made between fungal infections such as thrush, which arise due to an immune deficiency, and are characterized by redness and white, wipeable coverings. A very dry tongue, however, can be the result of a salivary gland disease.

Diseases that directly affect the tongue include tumor diseases, aphthae and fibromas. “At first, tumors often show up in the form of 'sores' or ulcers,” explains Dr. Walter. “Tactile hardening of the tongue with an intact surface can also indicate tumors.” Aphthae, in turn, are circular or oval milky-yellowish structures that trigger inflammation of the surrounding mucous membrane. Although they are very painful, they usually disappear on their own after a few days. Fibromas, i.e. small benign nodules of the mucous membrane, are usually found on the midline of the tongue. These connective tissue tumors require clarification by an ENT doctor. (pm)

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