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Itchy Tongue: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Mar 6, 2023Oral health

Itchy Tongue Overview

An itchy tongue can lead to irritation if not addressed promptly. There are many causes of an itchy tongue, some of which may be minor and others more serious. It is important to identify the underlying cause in order to properly treat the condition.

There are many reasons why people experience itchy mouths, ranging from viral or fungal infections to allergies to food, pollen, latex, medications, and more. When itchy mouth is a result of allergies, it is commonly referred to as oral allergy syndrome.

Some forms of itchy mouth can be relatively mild, while others may pose a life-threatening risk.


Why is My Tongue Itchy?

Having an itchy tongue can be uncomfortable or even painful. Generally, these types of itches are harmless and caused by common oral allergies; however, other causes may be more serious.

For some individuals, an itchy tongue can persist for extended periods of time. In contrast, other people may experience the sensation intermittently. By closely examining your symptoms, you can uncover the underlying cause and attain relief quickly.


Causes of itchy tongue

Allergy: Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen-food syndrome or oral allergy syndrome, affects many of us. It is believed that OAS is triggered when proteins in certain nutrients are similar to those found in pollens such as grasses, birch, mugwort, or ragweed, which are known for their allergenic proteins. It is possible for you to also experience OAS when you are eating a particular food you have eaten previously, but nothing seemed to happen at that time.

Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth are typically the primary indicators of a food allergy. Additional signs and symptoms may include:

  • Tingling and itching sensations in and around the mouth, tongue, and throat.
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Odd taste in your mouth

Foods that can trigger an Oral Allergy Syndrome response include:

  • nut
  • cow’s milk
  • eggs
  • apples
  • wheat
  • celery

Anaphylaxis: An allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated immediately. When a person suffers from such an allergy, it is imperative that they seek immediate medical attention, since it can have a damaging effect on the entire body and may result in low blood pressure and acute swelling. There is a risk of an anaphylactic reaction if the immune system is overly sensitive to an acute allergen such as stings from bees, pollen, and certain foods in the environment.

An individual may sometimes have a lot of swelling in their throats and mouths, so much so that it becomes impossible for them to breathe.

The following are a few common symptoms of Anaphylaxis:

  • swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • dizziness 0r fainting
  • difficulty or having trouble while breathing
  • abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • rapid heartbeat
  • low blood pressure
  • skin rashes, hives or swelling
  • hoarse voice

Viral Infection: It is possible that a viral infection may be the cause of an itchy tongue. Common cold and flu, which affect the upper respiratory tract, may result in an itchy mouth with a burning sensation.

Below are a few symptoms commonly associated with viral infections:

  • running nose
  • sore throat
  • mild headache
  • sneezing
  • slight body ache
  • low fever

Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to suffer from itchy tongue because they are at an increased risk of developing oral thrush. Additionally, diabetes can affect nerves, which can result in paraesthesia affecting a variety of organs, including the tongue. It is possible for oral thrush to advance to cause a contamination that affects the throat as well if it is deferred in treatment.

Oral Thrush: There are several types of fungal infections that develop in the human body. The most common kind of fungal infection is oral candidiasis, which develops on the mucous membranes of the mouth. This infection is very common in infants, causing irritation around the baby’s mouth and roof. Moreover, oral thrush can also appear on your gums, tonsils, roof of your mouth, and in your throat. Those patches look cream colored and can be very painful and may also bleed when you brush your teeth.

Few symptoms of oral thrush can include:

  • Redness inside the mouth or throat
  • Loss of taste
  • Swelling in the affected areas
  • Painful or burning sensation while eating

Oral Cancer: This could be one of the causes for a person experiencing an itchy tongue. A propensity for excessive drinking, smoking, and chewing of tobacco may increase an individual’s risk of developing oral cancer.


Common Itchy Tongue Symptoms

You may see something like hives or a rash flaring up along with your other symptoms if you’re experiencing a breakout somewhere on your body. However, inside of your mouth, a tingling tongue may stand out above everything else as one of the major symptoms.

In your mouth, watch for signs of redness, speckled tissues, sores, or a white coating that you can wipe off with a washcloth, or you may be able to see it. It is very important that you seek emergency medical care as soon as possible if you experience difficulty breathing or your airway appears to be closing off.

If you feel like you have an itchy tongue or mouth, it might be due to an allergy. It is best to keep a mental note of what you have eaten recently, especially within the last hour. The symptoms may appear right away or it may take a bit of time for them to manifest.


Treat Tongue Itchiness and Oral Allergies

If you experience oral allergies, it is important to identify which foods may be triggers and either avoid them or cook them before consuming them. Do not become discouraged if a particular food causes difficulty; there are still many raw fruits and vegetables that can be enjoyed without triggering an adverse reaction.

Taking antihistamine medications is also a great way to treat tongue itchiness. Antihistamines work by blocking the release of histamine, the molecule responsible for your allergy symptoms. Generally, people take antihistamines for seasonal allergies, but many people also use them to relieve itchy tongues or mouths as well. Even though these medications can cause drowsiness or affect your sleep quality in some patients, you can take them safely and frequently.

It is often recommended that allergy sufferers seek out immunotherapy for long-lasting relief. When you undergo immunotherapy, your body is exposed to small amounts of the allergen causing you problems over time until it becomes desensitized to them and stops reacting to them. This is a treatment which can offer complete freedom from seasonal allergies without the need to carry around pills for many people.

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