Diagnosing health conditions is not an exact art. Medical professionals can only go by the symptoms the patient experiences.

Sometimes these will have an obvious link to the problem. For example, a key sign of lung cancer is a persistent cough.

However, other symptoms can be less obvious and can appear in the most unlikely of places.

One expert revealed that some symptoms can manifest on the tongue.

Speaking on her YouTube channel, Doctor Siobhan Deshauer – an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist – shared some of the signs on your tongue that require further investigation.


If your tongue appears red and smooth this could mean you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Dr Deshauer said: “So first stick out your tongue and see what colour it is.

“A normal healthy tongue is pink with little bumps called papillae on the surface but if your tongue looks like this red and smooth we call this glossitis and it can be from a nutritional deficiency.”

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in many animal products such as meat, cheese and eggs.

She added: “A reminder to all those vegetarians and vegans out there you guys are at high risk of B12 deficiency so make sure you take your supplements.”

Gorlin sign

Touching your nose with your tongue may seem like a fun party trick, but it may signal a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Dr Deshauer continued: “It’s a rare talent – less than 10 percent of the population can do this.

“It’s much more common in people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a group of genetic conditions that are characterised by stretchy skin and hypermobile joints.”


This is the medical term for a big tongue.

She said: “How do you know if your tongue is too big for the rest of your mouth?

“Well check out the sides of your tongue, do you see imprints of your teeth on either side?

“That’s one sign of macroglossia so if your tongue suddenly gets bigger it’s probably an allergic reaction or an infection and if your tongue just keeps getting bigger it’s going to make it difficult for you to breathe so you need to get to the hospital right away.

“But if this is happening slowly over time and your tongue is continuing to grow I think about hypothyroidism where your body’s not making enough thyroid hormone.”

White tongue

She said: “If you notice that your tongue has a bit of a thin white coating on it that’s really normal and if you brush it it should go away but if it doesn’t there are four main causes of a white tongue.”

These are:

Thrush (a yeast infection)
Leukoplakia (which can be caused by injury, irritation or mouth cancer)
Lichen planus (a rash)
Hairy leukoplakia (which can be caused by Epstein-Barr virus).

Colour changing tongue

According to Dr Deshauer, Raynaud’s can cause the tongue to change colour.

Raynaud’s is a condition where a person has an exaggerated response to the cold where their blood vessels constrict and clamp down too much causing their fingers toes and sometimes
their tongue to change colour.

She shared an example of a 29-year-old woman whose tongue turned blue as a result of Raynaud’s.

Strawberry tongue

As the name suggests this gives the tongue the appearance of a strawberry.

“We actually call this strawberry tongue when it’s red with these prominent bumps,” Dr Deshauer said.

“This is classic for scarlet fever caused by group A strep, the same bacteria that causes strep throat.”

Dry mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome)

She added: “As a rheumatologist I often look under a patient’s tongue. I expect to see salivary pooling so pools of saliva but if I don’t I think about Sjogren’s syndrome.

“It’s an autoimmune disease that can affect the whole body but classically it causes very dry eyes and very dry mouth.

“You can just imagine how uncomfortable that would be and it causes major issues with their dental health plus their tongue gets so dry that it becomes painful, dry and cracked.”

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