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What Does Covid Tongue Mean & How is it Treated?

What is Covid Tongue?

Symptoms occur on the tongue due to the Covid-19 infection which include ulcers, swelling, and inflammation. Tongue with these symptoms is known as the covid tongue. Those with covid tongue may notice their tongue to be white and patchy or may feel it being red and swollen. Sometimes there are bumps or ulcers on the tongue. There is also a loss of taste and burning sensation in the mouth.

In Covid-19 along with covid tongue being one symptom other signs such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and pain are also present. Studies are being done to see whether the covid tongue is an early or warning symptom of Covid-19 infection.

What Does Covid Tongue Mean ?

A study was done in 2021. It documented the covid tongue as a covid-19 symptom.(1) There are also a few cases reports that documented covid tongue but more information is needed on this symptom.(2)

Many people with covid-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and the tongue symptoms are not seen occurring in all.

Factors that Leads to Covid Tongue

There can be several possible causes of the covid tongue. Changes in the tongue is also common in other illnesses and infections.

Covid tongue can be a symptom of different bacterial or viral infections as it is. The reason behind its occurrence are as follows:

  • A high number of ACE receptors on the tongue. ACE receptors are the proteins present in the cells of the body. When the covid-19 virus enters these receptors it gets into the cells as well. This is why covid-19 infection leads to swelling on the tongue.(3)
  • As the immune system is fighting against any bacterial or viral infection, it may lead to swelling throughout the body and this would include tongue swelling as well.
  • Oral thrush is a fungal infection that can result from numerous infections and this might include mouth ulcers and other symptoms. Covid-19 can also be responsible for this infection.
  • Covid-19 infection can lessen the secretions of salivary glands and lead to a dry mouth. Research shows that a dry mouth can be a cause of many oral health concerns.(4)
  • Covid-19 infection can activate other viruses in the body, which might include the herpes simplex virus. It stays dormant in the body even when no symptom is seen. Covid-19 activates it to cause mouth ulcers.(5)

Covid tongue could be a result of any of the above factors or a combination of two. It can also sometimes result due to the treatment involved in covid-19 i.e. the breathing tubes and other treatments.

About 11 percent of people who were hospitalized with covid-19 infection were seen suffering from the covid tongue.(6)

Treatment for Covid Tongue

There is no particular treatment for the covid tongue. Anything involved in the covid-19 treatment may benefit the covid tongue. If the treatment does not improve the covid tongue or when the covid tongue is severe, specific treatment might be needed which may include:

  • Corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories which may help in bringing down swelling
  • Antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal mouth rinses
  • Artificial saliva mouth rinse that may combat dry mouth and promote tongue healing.
  • Low-level laser therapy

The treatment of swollen tongue may be designed to reduce swelling and discomfort. Treatment may also be given to treat the underlying condition which may be causing the tongue symptoms.

A swollen tongue can sometimes be a medical emergency as it may block the airway. Therefore, if you feel the tongue is swelling, consult a doctor immediately.

What is Geographic Tongue?

Geographic tongue is a result of the viral infection. It leads to small, smooth, red patches with white borders on the tongue, which can last for months or even years it may not cause any health concerns but may make it difficult to eat spicy foods.

Whether geographical tongue is due to covid-19 is not clear.

People with covid-19 may develop bumps, white patches, or swelling on their tongues. More is being studied on the same. Covid-19 is a pandemic ad is highly transmissible. If any of its symptoms are noted a doctor should be consulted and necessary precautions should be adopted.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 3, 2022

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