Hairy tongue, medically known as lingua villosa, is generally a harmless condition that alters the appearance of the tongue, making it appear discolored and furry. Hairy tongue is also commonly referred to as black hairy tongue (lingua villosa nigra), but the tongue discoloration may appear white, brown, pink, or green. The color of the tongue depends both on the underlying condition plus the presence of any additional factors, such as the type of food consumed. Hairy tongue is caused by irritation of the surface of the tongue, leading to the elongation of the papillae that are normally present on the surface of the tongue along with an absence of shedding of superficial cells that is typically facilitated by toothbrushing or dietary factors. A number of different conditions can cause the development of hairy tongue.
Other causes of hairy tongue
- Bacterial Overgrowth
- Certain Mouthwashes
- Chronic Irritation/Trauma
- Mouth Breathing
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Soft Diet
- Yeast Overgrowth
Causes of Hairy Tongue
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Chewing Tobacco (Smokeless Tobacco, Snuff)
People absorb more nicotine into their systems by chewing tobacco (snuff or smokeless tobacco) than by smoking a cigarette. Chewing tobacco or snuff can cause cancers, poor oral health (gum disease and tooth decay), infertility, pregnancy complications, and nicotine addiction. Nicotine addiction can be overcome with available prescription drugs and other treatment programs.
Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise, and some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, lightheadedness, constipation, and bad breath. Treatment for dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn)
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the acidified liquid contents of the stomach backs up into the esophagus. The symptoms of uncomplicated GERD are: heartburn, regurgitation, and nausea. Effective treatment is available for most patients with GERD.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient. Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach. HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood. Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
There are a variety of diseases and conditions that can cause tongue problems, discoloration, and soreness. Though most tongue problems are not serious. Conditions such as leukoplakia, oral thrush, and oral lichen planus may cause a white tongue while Kawasaki syndrome, scarlet fever, and geographic tongue may cause the tongue to appear red. A black hairy tongue may be caused by overgrown papillae on the tongue. Canker sores, smoking, and trauma may cause soreness of the tongue.