What is Strawberry Tongue?

What is Strawberry Tongue? What do I need to know and do? My dentist told me I have strawberry tongue and referred me to my primary care physician.

Strawberry Tongue causes your tongue to be swollen, red, and the bumps on your tongue will be very pronounced. It can also have white spots. The name is derived from the fact that it makes your tongue look like a strawberry or a raspberry, and may be painful. The swelling may make it difficult to eat or cause you to bite your tongue.  strawberry tongue - paid - shutterstock 1133467589

Strawberry tongue is often assumed to be a dental or oral health issue. It is a symptom of one of several diseases. It should be treated immediately by your primary care physician because some of the underlying diseases can be serious.

Underlying Conditions

Among the most common causes of strawberry tongue are the following conditions.

  1. Food or medication allergy. In these cases, the reaction to the allergen causes your tongue to become inflamed and swollen. Typically, antihistamines will be prescribed to control and reduce the allergic reaction. If the allergic reaction is serious – anaphylaxis – it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling of the throat or face, difficulty breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock can cause problems with breathing and with the circulatory system. Untreated, it can be fatal.
  2. Kawasaki Disease. Kawasaki disease typically occurs in children. It causes particular arteries to become inflamed and swell. Other symptoms of Kawasaki Disease include: high fever, skin rash, red eyes, peeling skin. Without treatment, it can cause a coronary artery aneurysm or other heart problems.
  3. Scarlet Fever. When a bacterial infection develops in someone with strep throat, it can cause scarlet fever. The disease most often affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. Other symptoms of scarlet fever include: red rash covering much of the body, high fever, bright red areas in the folds of the skin, headache, sore throat, flushing of the face over the cheeks. Without treatment scarlet fever can cause a person to develop rheumatic fever, kidney disease, skin infection, serious infection of the middle ear, abscesses, or lung infection.
  4. Toxic Shock Syndrome. Toxic Shock Syndrome has been connected with nasal gauze packing and with use of tampons. It is most commonly caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus or the same species of group bacteria A Streptococcus. The latter causes Scarlet Fever. The tampon creates a host for growth of the bacteria. In addition to strawberry tongue, Toxic Shock Syndrome can cause other symptoms, including: high fever, headache, aches and pains, sore throat, nausea, vomiting diarrhea. Toxic Shock Syndrome should be treated immediately. Without proper treatment, it can be life-threatening if it affects vital organs.
  5. Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Strawberry tongue can also indicate the vitamin deficiency. It will typically be accompanied by other symptoms, including: weakness, tiredness, numbness or tingling, memory problems, balance issues, or glossitis. It is treated easily with high doses of Vitamin B12.

Strawberry tongue, as the name implies, causes your tongue to resemble a strawberry (red and swollen with bumps). Alone, it is not an illness. Instead, it is a symptom of underlying diseases. It is not a dental or oral health issue. Some of these diseases are quite serious and can be fatal. However, all of these diseases can be treated effectively by your primary care physician.