A numb tongue is often an indicator of an underlying nerve condition. Our brains and the nervous system are deeply connected, so if you experience any sudden tongue numbness it’s important to assess any physical or environmental changes you experience. A numb tongue may be a sign of a serious brain condition, or it could simply be a reaction to something you ate or drank.
Common Causes of a Numb Tongue
If you have a numb tongue, you’ll want to get to the bottom of the issue that is leading to the sensation. Here are the most common reasons someone may have a numb tongue.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
With symptoms of excess thirst, little to no taste, and numbness of the tongue, burning mouth syndrome has been known to not have any direct cause. The term “burning mouth” comes from the chronic burning feeling people experience. While the cause is still unknown, a dentist could help you find symptom relief.
A stroke can cause numbness and loss of sensation in the face, mouth, and tongue. This paralysis on a particular part of the body occurs when there is a blockage that disrupts the normal blood flow into the brain. A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires a professional assessment.
If you lack everyday vitamins and minerals, your nervous system health will decline and cause uncomfortable symptoms like a numb tongue. When our bodies lack crucial vitamins such as vitamin D or vitamin B12, it can dramatically impact the function of healthy red blood cells. To avoid numbness in the mouth and tongue, be sure you eat a diverse range of plants and protein.
Bell’s Palsy is characterized as a neurological disorder that can impact facial nerves and muscles. It can cause weakness or drooping on one side of the face, and a sensation of numbness in the mouth and tongue. This numbness commonly occurs due to inflammation of the facial muscles.
Allergic reactions are a common reason people’s tongues may feel numb. Many foods have a higher likelihood of causing an allergic reaction such as tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, or fennel. Oftentimes, the feeling of a numb tongue is accompanied by a tingling sensation in the mouth and throat during an allergic reaction.
Low Blood Sugar
If someone has metabolic dysfunction, they may experience tingling or numbness in the tongue due to the disruption in nerve function. In cases of hypoglycemia, people have problems with glucose regulation and are particularly sensitive when their blood sugar is too low. The drop in blood sugar can cause slurred speech and loss of sensation in the mouth.
Viral or bacterial infections such as shingles or Lyme disease can lead to the loss of nerve sensation. The inflammation from these infections can cause paralysis of the face and numbness in the tongue and gums. Depending on the type of infection you have, the treatment will vary.
If you started taking any new medications recently, it may be worth checking to see if the drug is known to have any effect on your nervous system. Many drugs have nerve-blocking capabilities to help manage pain, but sometimes their nerve-blocking effects are too strong and can lead to a numb feeling in your mouth and tongue.
How To Treat a Numb Tongue
Before undergoing any new treatment, you’ll need to determine what is causing that feeling in the first place. Once you’ve consulted with a healthcare professional, they may recommend the following treatment:
Antihistamines are best used if your tongue is numb from an allergic reaction. When we consume a triggering substance, histamine receptors will signal our brains to provide a defense. If you take an antihistamine the histamine receptors will be blocked and the numbness will go away.
If you display symptoms of a bacterial infection such as Lyme disease, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacteria that are weakening your nervous system. If a bacterial infection is the cause of your tongue numbness, antibiotics should gradually help your normal mouth sensations return.
Dietary Changes & Supplements
Without enough proper nutrition, our bodies will lack what it needs to function healthily. If you have a nutrient deficiency causing numbness, it’s critical to incorporate more fresh fruit, vegetables, protein, and legumes into your diet. If diet changes are not enough, you may need to supplement with vitamin B and vitamin D.
An antiseptic mouthwash can be useful in cases of severe mouth inflammation or infection. By rinsing and cleaning your mouth and gums, it can aid in the prevention of unhealthy bacteria growth and minimize uncomfortable tongue numbness.
If you have chronic mouth numbness with no apparent cause, it may be worth speaking to your doctor about any medications you take. While nerve-blocking medications may be helpful with some health conditions, there may be alternative drug options available that do not cause numbness in the mouth and tongue.
Visit Your Dentist
If you continue to have a numb tongue, visit your local dentist for a checkup and consultation. They can take a look inside your mouth and provide an oral health assessment to see if any infection is present. If you are experiencing severe symptoms alongside numbness, always go to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical treatment.
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