What is Numb Tongue?
Numbness or tingling sensations in the tongue, medically known as paresthesia of the tongue, most commonly occur due to damage to the nervous system. A tingling, numb, or pins and needles feeling is usually due to a loss of sensation from pressure or damage to the nerves. There are some medical conditions associated with a loss of sensation in the tongue, so it is important to be aware of the warning signs for serious medical conditions, such as a stroke. The tongue is one of the most sensitive organs of the body. Sensations of temperature, pressure, texture and pain are often heightened on the tongue when compared to the skin and the tongue is also capable of a unique sensory function.
Types of Numb Tongue
A tingling tongue usually indicates a neurological disease or syndrome. It could be caused by a lesion or disease that negatively impacts the nerves without causing any pain, just sensory imbalances like prickling or tingling. When the symptoms are not painful, they are called:
- Paresthesia: This is mild in nature and not very unpleasant.
- Dysesthesia: This is extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant.
What Can Cause Tongue to Go Numb?
- Trauma to the head
- A reduction in the flow of blood.
- A vitamin or mineral deficiency.
- A nerve related disorder.
- Multiple sclerosis (a medical condition which afflicts the brain and the spinal cord, resulting in difficulties in coordination and balance, fatigue and other problems).
- Nerve damage due to a dental surgery.
- Fracture or dislocation of the jaw bone.
- Head injury causing swelling and impingement of the nerve.
- Oral or maxillofacial surgery which could injure the nerve to the tongue.
- A tumor which exerts pressure on the nerve.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- Alcohol or tobacco abuse.
- B 12 insufficiency.
- Deficiency or excess of minerals, such as calcium, potassium or sodium.
- Heavy metal poisoning.
- Side effects of certain medicines.
- Radiation exposure or radiotherapy.
Symptom that Accompanying Numb Tongue
Numbness in the tongue is characterized by a queer sensation of pin and needles or burning. It may be transient or may stay all day long. There could be associated presenting features such as, altered sensation of taste, cannot feel food texture or even pain. Some of the other numb tongue symptoms and signs include:
- Complete absence of taste
- Slow or slurred speech
- Persistent bad or bitter taste in the mouth
Common symptoms that may occur along with tingling tongue including:
- Changes in taste perception
- Facial weakness
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in the same or nearby area
- Pain in the same or nearby area
- Seizures or convulsions
- Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition:
- Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
- Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as hallucinations and delusions
- Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
- Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
- Head injury
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the body
- Paralysis or inability to move a body part
- Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
- Swelling of the tongue, face or lips, with difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Uncontrollable movement
- Urinary incontinence
- Coma or loss of consciousness
- Loss of strength
- Loss of eyesight and blindness
Effective Treatment to Cure Numb Tongue
Treatments for numb tongue depend on the underlying cause of the tongue numbness. Some mild causes, such as injury need no treatment and the tongue numbness resolves on its own; whereas, some serious causes such as stroke or tumor need immediate treatment to treat the numb tongue.
- Balanced diet rich in essential vitamins to keep the nerves healthy: Fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins can provide your body with the nutrition necessary to keep your nerves healthy.
- Regular exercise: Maintaining an optimal weight with exercise as well as a balanced diet can prevent and also control metabolic diseases.
- Avoid foods that may trigger an allergic reaction: Take note of foods that seem related to your symptoms. Avoid common foods that trigger allergies include nuts, fish and wheat.
- Supplementation: If your symptoms are due to vitamin or mineral imbalance, your doctor may prescribe supplements that you can take to help your body get back on track. In minor, transient cases of numbness, B12 supplementation is all that you need.
- Medications to relax blood vessels: There are many different kinds of medication that can combat constriction in your blood vessels by dilating (relaxing) them and promoting circulation.
- Migraine medication: If your tongue numbness has been a signal for imminent migraines, your doctor can prescribe medication to give you relief from your headaches.
How to Prevent Numb Tongue
Some tongue problems are preventable by:
- practicing good oral hygiene
- eating a healthy
- nutritious diet
- Not crossing the suggested daily limit of alcoholic drinks
- Becoming aware of the adverse effects caused by prescription drugs
- Avoiding allergenic foods
How to Diagnose Numb Tongue
Diagnosis is made Based on the collective information if there isn’t a unique sign or symptom to distinguish the tongue problem, a differential diagnosis is reviewed. A differential diagnosis lists all the possible causes of the signs and symptoms. During an examination with a physician or dentist, information based on symptoms and clinical appearance is collected. Imaging includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) may also be needed to aid in diagnosis.
A more definite diagnosis requires a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure whereby a sample of cells or tissue is evaluated under a microscope. Optimal treatment requires a precise diagnosis.
When to Visit Doctor
A person should seek medical advice if the feeling lasts for a long time, extends to the lips and jaw, or if there is no clear reason for a loss of sensation.
Sometimes tongue numbness or tingling can be a sign of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) which known as mini strokes. Seek emergency medical attention if any of these symptoms in addition to your tongue tingling refers to TIA occur:
- weakness or numbness in the arm, leg, or face or on one side of the body
- facial droop
- trouble speaking
- difficulty understanding or confusion
- loss of vision
- dizziness or loss of balance
- severe headache
Tingling or numbness in the tongue that comes on suddenly and also affects your face, arm, or leg on one side could be a sign of a stroke. Facial droop, trouble walking or talking can also be signs.
Being aware of the symptoms of stroke and getting emergency medical treatment quickly is crucial. The easy way to remember the signs of stroke is with FAST:
- Face — one side of the face droops
- Arms — weakness in one arm
- Speech — which may be slurred
- Time is critical — call 911 if someone has these symptoms
The most common causes of a tingling tongue can usually be pointed to a specific experience, such as a dental procedure, allergic reaction, or burn. If it affects the other sensory components of the tongue leading to sensations such as numbness, tingling, prickling (“pins and needles”) or burning then it is known as paresthesia.Prevention is just as important when it comes to all aspects of our health, so making sure we have all the essential nutrients our body needs is crucial.
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