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What are complications can having a geographic tongue create?

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Quick Answer

Geographic tongue, or benign migratory glossitis, may cause short-term discomfort, such as a burning sensation, when the lesions are exposed to spicy, acidic, salty or hot foods, according to Mayo Clinic. However, this condition is considered harmless and does not cause long-term health complications. The symptoms of geographic tongue are generally cosmetic.

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Persistent pain is a rare symptom, and in some cases, geographic tongue causes the lymph nodes under the lower jaw to swell, the National Organization for Rare Disorders states. Geographic tongue is a form of inflammation that triggers smooth red or pink patches in areas that normally have surface bumps, known as papillae. These patches may also have a white or yellow border that is slightly raised, and their shape, size and position may frequently change. The cause of the condition is unknown, and it usually clears up on its own.

Doctors believe geographic tongue may be linked to genetics and other conditions, such as allergies, psoriasis, fissured tongue and juvenile diabetes, the National Organization for Rare Disorders notes. The condition is often recurrent, so doctors may advise people with discomfort to adopt a diet of cool, bland foods, especially liquids. In cases of persistent pain, patients may need topical painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications.

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