The 5 things your tongue can reveal about your health – from cancer to stroke risk | The Sun

SCIENTISTS are now looking at peoples tongues to find indications of serious disease.

The practise has been used by Chinese herbalists for over 2000 years and is now being used by artificial intelligence to remotely diagnose illnesses.

A study by Iraqi and Australian experts found tongue analysis accurately diagnosed health condition in up to 94 per cent of cases.

They did this by getting 50 patients with conditions like diabetes and anaemia, to take pictures of their tongues.

These pictures were then fed to a computer, which had been programmed to detected diseases based of previous studies on how different health condition affect tongue colour, shape and texture.

Study author, Prof Ali Al-Naji from the University of South Australia, said:“Conventional medicine has long endorsed this method, demonstrating that the colour, shape, and thickness of the tongue can reveal signs of diabetes, liver issues, circulatory and digestive problems, as well as blood and heart diseases."

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What does your tongue reveal about your health?

While most changes to the shape, colour and texture of your tongue are harmless, some require assessment and treatment by a medical professional.

1. A yellow tongue

A yellow-ish tongue could be a sign of diabetes.

This is because people with the condition have high levels of sugar in their saliva which promotes bacteria growth on the tongue, according to Healthline.

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There are a record five million people thought to have type 1 or type 2 diabetes in the UK – with 4.3m diagnosed and another 850,000 who don’t know they have it.

Type 2 occurs when the body loses the ability to metabolise sugar, mainly as a result of weight gain and poor lifestyle.

Other signs include feeling very thirsty, peeing more frequently than usual, tiredness, itching around the penis or vagina and blurred vision.

Type 1 diabetes can develop very quickly over weeks or days and it's more common that it will cause weight loss than type 2.

Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general, or there are no symptoms at all.

In rare cases, it can also be a sign of liver or gallbladder problems, especially when jaundice kicks in.

Jaundice is a condition that causes your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow.

It happens when your liver is damaged and can’t properly process the waste product bilirubin. 

Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that’s produced when red blood cells break down.

It can also turn your mouth yellow.

Having a red tongue with a yellow coating could also put you at higher risk of heart disease, according to research, published by the European Society of Cardiology.

The study, conducted by Dr Tianhui Yuan from the Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, claimed that patients with chronic heart failure have “totally different” tongues to those who do not have the condition.

Heart failure patients have a redder tongue with a yellow coating and the appearance changes as the disease becomes more advanced, she said.

2. Purple tongue

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, some tumours, including cancers of the tongue, may produce a dark red or purple colour on surfaces in the mouth.

These may bleed and not go away.

Figures from 2022, suggest cases of mouth cancer are on the rise in the UK.

Rates of the illness have doubled in the last generation, with 8,864 cases being diagnosed last year.

Around 3,034 people in the UK lost their life to mouth cancer last year – a rise of 20 per cent in the last five years.

Other signs of tongue cancer include a persistent sore throat, pain when swallowing and pain or burning feeling over the tongue.

3. Red tongue

Having a red tongue could be a sign of Covid-19.

A study in Ukraine from 2022 examined tongue images of 135 Covid patients using a smartphone. 

The results revealed that 64 per cent of mild infection cases had a pale pink tongue, 62 per cent of moderate cases showed a red tongue, and a striking 99 per cent of severe Covid infections had a dark red tongue

4. Crooked tongue

A slightly red and crooked looking tongue can be a warning sign of a stroke, a Taiwanese study found.

A stroke is a very serious condition where the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.

In the 2012 paper, researchers said people experience “tongue deviation” during or after a stroke.

It happens when blood circulation is cut off to a certain part of the brain.

However, not all cases of stroke display the sign, and a person may also display the sign without actually having a stroke.

Typical signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, trouble speaking, confusion and dizziness.

5. Swollen tongue

A puffy tongue can be a sign of inflammation, otherwise known as glossitis.

While also looking swollen, inflamed tongues can also look glossy and red.

It can be triggered by allergic reaction, a dry mouth, injury or a nutritional deficiency, like anaemia.

In the UK, it is estimated that 3 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women are anaemic.

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It's caused by a lack of iron, often because of blood loss or pregnancy.

Other signs of anemia include brittle nails, pale skin colour and mouth ulcers,

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