What is it?

Glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue, causing it to swell, change its color and develop a different appearance on the surface. The tongue has small papillae on its surface which contain taste buds, and when a person has glossitis, these papillae may disappear. Glossitis may cause pain and change the way the person speaks and eats. Acute glossitis is an inflammation that occurs suddenly, usually during an allergic reaction. Chronic glossitis continues to recur, and it's typically a symptom of another medical condition (herpes simplex, low iron levels). Atrophic glossitis refers to a condition in which many papillae are already lost, changing the tongue’s color and texture. The tongue appears glossy in atrophic glossitis.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Abscess of tongue

Signs & symptoms

Glossitis symptoms include pain or tenderness in the tongue, swelling of the tongue, change in the color of the tongue, inability to speak, eat or swallow, and loss of papillae on the tongue’s surface.


Glossitis is diagnosed in a mouth examination by a dentist or a doctor. Further tests may include saliva samples and blood tests.


Glossitis treatment includes a combination of medications such as antibiotics and topical steroids and home care by brushing and flossing the teeth.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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