A tingling tongue is usually not cause for concern. However, it can be the sign of a more serious condition. For example, tongue numbness sometimes accompanies ministrokes. If one’s tongue tingles in conjunction with symptoms such as weakness or numbness in the extremities, face, or on one just one side of the body, facial droop, difficulty speaking, confusion, loss of sight, loss of balance, and severe headache, medical assistance should be sought.
Allergic reactions sometimes cause a tingling tongue. This includes a reaction to food or chemicals, which cause the tongue to itch, swell, and tingle. During an allergic reaction, ther immune system becomes confused and mistakes regular food or other innocuous compounds for harmful substances. Common foods that trigger allergies include peanuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, fish, soy, and wheat. In many cases, allergies also present with symptoms such as
- difficulty swallowing
- throat tightness
- lip or mouth swelling
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. Those with diabetes sometimes become hypoglycemic when they skip meals or take too much insulin. However, anyone can experience hypoglycemia. Other symptoms include feeling very hungry, dizziness, confusion, irritability, and feeling tired and weak. Eating or drinking sugary snacks can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Canker sores are oval, shallow sores that develop on the tongue, gums, or insides of the cheeks, and can be the source of a tingling tongue. The root cause of these sores is unknown. Minor injuries, hormonal changes, bad nutrition, allergies, and other factors impact the likelihood of developing canker sores. However, they should clear up within a week in most cases. It’s a good idea to avoid irritants like spicy or crunchy food until they go away.
Hypocalcemia describes below-average blood calcium levels. A tingling tongue is an advanced sign of this condition. More common symptoms include cramp, muscle twitches, stiffness, tingling in the toes and fingers, seizures, and dizziness. The causes of hypocalcemia include low vitamin D, low parathyroid hormone, kidney disease, low magnesium levels, cancer medication, pancreatitis, and thyroid surgery complications. A blood test confirms this condition and a calcium supplement may help correct the problem.
Vitamin B Deficiencies
Low levels of vitamins B12 and B9 (folate) sometimes lead to tongue sores and impact how food tastes. A tingling sensation in the tongue, feet, and hands is one possible symptom. People with vitamin B deficiencies often feel tired. The condition can progress to anemia if not addressed. The deficiencies occur when the body cannot absorb the necessary vitamins from food. Age is one factor since our stomachs become less acidic over time. A doctor may prescribe medication or counsel deficient patients to eat more fish, eggs, meat, and dairy, which are rich in vitamin B12. Vegans can eat or drink fortified soy or nut milk, bread, cereals, or grains, or take supplements. Good sources of B9 are green, leafy vegetables, peanuts, beans, orange, and tomato juice.
Migraines have various symptoms, which sometimes include tingling in the tongue, arms, legs, and face. Other migraine symptoms are visual disturbances such as blind spots, flashing lights, or zigzag patterns in the vision. The cause of migraines is unknown, but these warning signs lead to debilitating headaches on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome is another possible cause of tingling tongue, mouth, and lips. Dry mouth often accompanies this syndrome, as do changes in the sense of taste and a metallic taste. The root causes include yeast infection, vitamin B12 deficiency, and diabetes. Burning mouth syndrome impacts two percent of people, mainly women who are postmenopausal. Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and spicy foods may alleviate the condition.
Hypoparathyroidism is rare but occurs when your parathyroid glands no longer produce parathyroid hormone, which controls the calcium in the blood. Besides tingling in the tongue and extremities, people with this condition may experience weakness, seizures, muscle cramps, and dizziness. For most people, damage or injury causes the parathyroid glands to stop working, and some people may require surgery to remove them.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) impacts the central nervous system. Inflammation disrupts messages between the body and brain. Symptoms include fatigue and vision and mobility issues. Other common symptoms are tingling in the face and limbs. MS occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, and there’s no cure, although medications can alleviate and manage symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
Sudden tingling or numbness in the tongue that also affects the face and limbs on one side could indicate a ministroke. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek emergency medical help immediately. If tingling sensations in the tongue don’t go away in a few days, see a doctor. It’s important to rule out any serious health conditions that could be causing the symptom.