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dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Glossitis is inflammation of the tongue. It can be mild or severe. Many conditions could cause this illness. It is commonly associated with diabetes mellitus, candidal or bacterial infections, trauma, or adverse drug reactions and anaphylaxis. Theoretically a swollen tongue can block the airway (trachea) and cause respiratory insufficiency and respiratory distress.

Whatever the etiology, protecting the airway is the primary goal. After making sure the airway is patent we can then try to figure out the causitive agent and render appropriate treatment.

Some individuals have a severe allergy to things like bee stings, when these people receive a sting they go into something called anaphylactic shock. This is a true emergency because the tongue, face, nasal mucosa, and trachea can drastically swell almost immediately after the sting and compromise the airway.


giorgiana1976 | Student

The inflammation of the tongue, also called glossitis, appears as a change of the color and the aspect of the tongue, which becomes red and painful and presents an atrophy of the papilla. The condition can be acute or chronic.

Acute glossitis - can be generalized to the entire tongue (scarlatina, drug intoxication) or localized (because of an injury caused by a tooth, a prosthetic or a burn).

Chronic glossitis - can be a sign of the group B vitamins deficiency anemia (Biermer's disease), iron (iron deficiency anemia) or zinc, one of the signs of oral dryness during Gougerot-Sjogren's syndrome or tertiary syphilis (the third stage of its evolution).

Treatment - is specifically to the disease, if it is known. There are recommended a good dental hygiene and mouth washes. Exfoliative glossitis has no specific treatment, median glossitis is treated by rinsing the mouth with antiseptic and vitamin PP.

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