Tongue Function, Tongue Conditions

A healthy tongue is moist, pink and covered with tiny bumps called papillae. Here’s a blurb about the tongue, its function and some health conditions involving it.

On the surface of your tongue’s papillae are taste buds, which contain microvilli. Microvilli connect to nerves that send signals to your brain for identifying different tastes, for instance sweet, sour, bitter,  salty and umami (glutamate). Tasting assists with survival because it guards against ingesting dangerous substances.

A moist tongue is required to detect taste. Saliva serves this purpose as well as moistening food, breaking food down and making food easier to move around. Because your tongue is essentially a variety of muscles, it has the function of moving stuff all around in your mouth to assist with chewing and swallowing.

In addition to eating, your tongue plays a role in creating certain sounds. And perhaps one of its less obvious functions is it helps stop pathogens from making you sick. How? On the surface of the back of your tongue are small mounds of tissue, known as tonsils, that snatch harmful germs. Yep, tonsillitis is a painful indication of their presence.

Your tongue typically functions without much notice. However, burn or bite it and the pain can seem unrelenting! Other tongue conditions that may draw your attention as to its existence include:

Many tongue conditions resolve rather quickly on their own. However, chronic tongue problems can be a warning sign you are suffering a serious health condition, like vitamin deficiency, AIDS or cancer. Therefore, any ongoing issue with your tongue should be taken up with your health care provider.