The human body does some pretty weird stuff, but tingling tongue is one of the stranger symptoms a person can develop. While the causes of a tingling tongue can vary widely, sometimes a tingling sensation in the tongue is a sign of serious problems. If you’re experiencing this in conjunction with any of the following, please call 911 or arrange to go to the emergency room:
- weakness or numbness in the arm, leg, face, or on one side of the body
- facial droop
- trouble speaking
- difficulty understanding or confusion
- loss of vision
- dizziness or loss of balance
- severe headache
Any of these symptoms combined with a tingling feeling in your tongue may be signs of a stroke, and an indicator that you need immediate medical attention. Again, please contact emergency services immediately.
With that warning out of the way, there are other causes of tingling tongue. Some may require medical treatment, some may necessitate lifestyle changes, and some may clear up on their own. Let’s take a look at some of the more common causes of this sensation and what you should do about them.
One cause of this that may require medical treatment is nerve damage due to a dental procedure. Damage to the lingual nerve can occur as the result of a tooth extraction, particularly the wisdom teeth. While most of the time this damage heals itself within a few months, tingling tongue may last longer in some patients. If the symptom persists for more than about six months, it’s time to consult a medical professional.
Allergic reactions can cause a tingling feeling in the tongue or other parts of the mouth. This may also manifest as an itching or prickling sensation, and is generally due to either hay fever or a food allergy. Common food allergies that can cause tingling tongue include:
- Fish or shellfish
- Peanuts or tree nuts
While allergic reactions are generally not serious and can be treated with an antihistamine and by avoiding the triggering food in the future, some allergic reactions can be life threatening. If you start to experience tightness in the throat, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or swelling of the lips and mouth, please call 911 immediately.
Canker sores, sometimes called cold sores, are small, shallow, round sores that occur on the lips, inside the cheeks, or on the gums. The science behind what causes cold sores is still not clear—they seem to be triggered by any number of things including allergies, viruses, hormonal changes, nutritional issues, or minor injuries. They can cause tingling tongue, which should fade when the canker sores do; it generally takes about a week. While dealing with canker sores, avoid spicy, sour, or otherwise strongly flavored food that might irritate them and make the problem worse. If they don’t fade away in a week or so, it’s time to see a doctor.
There are other causes for tingling tongue that, while relatively rare, may require attention from a doctor. Multiple sclerosis, anemia, and hypoglycemia can all include tingling tongue as a symptom. This means that while tingling tongue may seem amusing or at worst annoying, it’s a symptom that you may need to consult your doctor about should it last for more than a week or two on its own.