As important as the tongue is, it’s not on most people’s radar throughout the day until it starts feeling strange. You may notice that it feels a bit tingly, dry, and heavy — or worse, it may be burning so badly that you can hardly talk.
Yes, this all sounds rather serious, but there’s usually a simple explanation if you find yourself wondering, “why does my tongue feel weird all of a sudden?”. Here are 13 possible causes and some insight into their effects.
What Could Be Making Your Tongue Feel Weird?
1. Allergic Reaction
It’s not just about not liking a particular food — when it makes your tongue itch, swell, or tingle, that’s a clear sign you should avoid it altogether. That said, an allergic reaction may be caused by chemicals or drugs too. A swollen tongue is also a well-known indicator of pollen allergy.
2. Dental Trauma
Even experts make mistakes, so if your tongue feels weird (you experience some numbness and a prickling sensation), consider whether your dentist may have damaged the lingual nerve. In most cases, these injuries are temporary, and you should get back to normal in a few weeks. If the symptoms persist, however, you may need medical treatment.
3. Burns and Bites
Naturally, you may injure your tongue yourself by biting hard on it or burning it with hot drinks or food. The tongue will usually feel tingly in this case, and you may experience some swelling and pain too.
Luckily, though they are uncomfortable, the sensations will go away with time. It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with cold water as soon as possible. You can also take some ibuprofen to minimize the pain and swelling.
Unfortunately, not all of the causes are simple to resolve. There’s a chance your tongue will feel hard to move, numb and tingly if you’ve just had a stroke. During this medical emergency, you will probably notice other symptoms as well, such as a bad headache, trouble seeing or talking, and facial drooping. You must call 911 immediately, as every second counts!
5. Canker Sores
Pain, numbness, or tingling are expected with canker sores. These small ulcers can appear on the tongue, inside the mouth, or on the lips. Luckily, minor ones usually clear up within a week or so on their own. Persistent, larger ones may require you to use oral and topical medications, or you could try a range of home remedies.
6. Yeast Infection
Oral thrush or oral candidiasis is a type of yeast infection caused by an overgrowth of the Candida albicans fungus. Candida naturally occurs inside the mouth, but it may occasionally overgrow due to the body’s malfunctioning protective mechanisms. When that happens, it may cause various symptoms, including creamy white lesions on the tongue and redness, soreness, or burning.
In case of a pounding headache, it’s not uncommon to feel as if your whole face, tongue, and hands are numb or tingling. It’s unclear why this happens exactly, though it may be due to faulty chemical or electrical signals in the brain.
8. Multiple Sclerosis
The gist of MS is that your immune system attacks healthy nerve cells found in the central nervous system (optic nerves, brain, and spinal cord). One of its symptoms is making your mouth and tongue feel weird, causing numbness and a range of other strange sensations. The worst part is that it may make chewing or swallowing a bit tricky, so you could even bite the inner side of your cheeks or tongue by accident.
Alongside other well-known symptoms, low blood sugar can also make your tongue or lips tingly or numb. Checking your blood sugar levels regularly is vital to prevent this. It would also help if you had some fruit juice or candy with you at all times — these should help you quickly raise your blood sugar to a normal level.
10. Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency
Anemia is closely linked to vitamin B12 deficiency and may cause a sore, red tongue. Similarly, you can also develop hypocalcemia, a calcium deficiency that causes tingling in the lips and tongue. Other deficiencies that may cause tongue-tingling include iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
Though it’s not so common, hypoparathyroidism can be a major issue and cause a lifestyle disruption. The condition is caused by low levels of PTH (parathyroid hormone), which in turn disrupt your levels of calcium and phosphorus, making calcium levels abnormally low and increasing phosphorus in your blood. The symptoms include tingling or burning in lips, tongue, fingers, and toes.
12. Burning Mouth Syndrome
If you constantly feel as if your lips, tongue, or mouth are burning, you may have Burning Mouth Syndrome. Though the cause is mostly unknown, the syndrome can be a red flag for various conditions, such as diabetes, yeast infection, and vitamin B12 deficiency.
There’s no cure, but you can manage the condition with medications and local anesthetics. You should also stay away from tobacco, alcohol, and spicy foods to avoid making the symptoms worse.
Finally, know that your tongue can feel a bit weird due to all the anxiety you may be experiencing lately. Blood vessels constrict when the body prepares itself for a fight-or-flight response. That, in turn, reduces blood flow and may cause tingling and numbness in feet, hands, and sometimes, the tongue.