|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative Names Return to topPatches on the tongue; Tongue - patchy; Benign migratory glossitis; Glossitis - benign migratory
Definition Return to top
Geographic tongue is a map-like appearance of your tongue due to irregular patches on its surface.
Causes Return to top
The specific cause of geographic tongue is unknown, although vitamin B deficiency may be involved. Other causes may include irritation from hot or spicy foods, or alcohol. The condition appears to be less common in smokers.
The pattern on the surface of the tongue may change very rapidly. This pattern change occurs when there is a loss of the tiny, finger-like projections, called papillae, on the tongue's surface. This makes areas of the tongue flat. These areas are said to be "denuded." Denuded areas may persist for more than a month.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Your doctor will usually diagnose this condition based on an examination of your tongue. Tests are usually not necessary.
Treatment Return to top
There is no treatment.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Geographic tongue is a harmless condition, but it can be persistent and uncomfortable.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if the symptoms last longer than 10 days. Seek immediate medical help if:
Prevention Return to top
Avoid irritating your tongue with hot or spicy food or alcohol if you are prone to this condition.
References Return to top
Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2004:2428.
Shulman JD. Prevalence and risk factors associated with geographic tongue among US adults. Oral Dis. Jul 2006; 12(4): 381-6.Update Date: 3/3/2009 Updated by: James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.