Dehydrated Tongue : Effects of Dehydration & Tips to Manage Dehydrated Tongue

The tongue is an overall reflector of the health condition of an individual. Whenever something is not right with our body, physicians tend to take a look at the tongue to figure out what may be wrong. This is especially for cases of dehydration. A dry tongue is a sign of a lack of proper hydration in the body.

Dehydrated Tongue

While dehydration is not limited to just a single area of the body, a dehydrated tongue is the first sign of the body’s need for better hydration. There are many causes of dehydration ranging from lack of adequate water intake to loss of fluids due to heat or illness. Also, there are some signs and symptoms of dehydration and a dehydrated tongue is one of them.

Effects of Dehydration & Tips to Manage Dehydrated Tongue

Dehydrated Tongue – Effects of Dehydration

According to medical experts, the recommended daily intake of water for an average male is around 4 liters while for a female is about 3 liters. People tend to not pay much attention to the need of the body to be hydrated and if the required fluid intake is not met with, it leads to dehydration. Similarly, if more amount of fluid is lost, they become dehydrated, which is a state wherein their body does not have the optimal amount of fluid needed to function normally. Most dehydration cases are not serious and can be easily take care of by improving fluid or water intake. However, in some cases, dehydration reflects in body’s functions and can show up with some signs including a dehydrated tongue.

Serious dehydration produces symptoms like headache, dark urine, decreased frequency of urination, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, fatigue, confusion, irritability, and even loss of consciousness. When properly hydrated, the body conserves the fluid it has for later use. This results in reduced production of fluids in the body including decreased saliva production, which is the first sign of dehydration. The tongue becomes dry and even becomes swollen as the body limits the production of saliva for conserving fluids. Dry and dehydrated tongue is a sign that not just the mouth is dehydrated but is rather an indication that the entire body is dehydrated and requires replenishment of fluids. The problem of white tongue mostly occurs when bacteria and debris coat or accumulate on the tongue’s surface due to mild dehydration.

Tips to Manage Dehydrated Tongue

A normal tongue is pink-colored, with tiny nodules known as papillae on it. It should be moist, with normal production of saliva to help in breakdown of food for digestion and, coating and preventing tooth decay or it being infected by bacteria. If the tongue is rough and dry, it implies that it is not optimally hydrated and the entire body needs proper hydration.

Here are some tips to manage a dehydrated tongue and help regain the body’s hydration.

  • Drink more water to counter dehydration and dry mouth
  • Eat fruits that have high water content
  • Chew sugar-free gums or suck on ice chips or lozenges to relieve dehydrated tongue and dry mouth.
  • Reduce exertion and take rest to conserve fluid and reduce loss of fluid through sweat.
  • In case of any illness, diarrhea or vomiting, take necessary treatment with medical advice
  • Oral rehydration solution to replace for the lost fluids can help in certain cases.

Even in spite of drinking adequate amounts of water all day every day and staying well-hydrated, if the problem of dehydrated tongue persists, it may be signaling towards something far more serious. If an individual has chronic dehydrated tongue, he should consult a healthcare provider right away. Dehydrated tongue or dry mouth can also occur due to hormonal changes in the body, infections, autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome and Addison disease, and side effects of certain medications, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

If you have a dehydrated tongue, it is vital to keep the teeth protected from the effects of decreased saliva production. Lack of adequate hydration in the mouth can damage the gums and teeth, increasing the risk of carries and infections. Hence, it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene and get a dental check-up done. You are advised to brush regularly, and use alcohol-free and peroxide-free mouthwashes to take appropriate measures or treatment to avoid dehydrated tongue and mouth.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 6, 2018

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