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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Yellow tongue


What is yellow tongue?

Do you see a yellow color on your tongue when you look in the mirror? Yellow tongue is when your tongue looks yellow because of dead skin and germs on your tongue. Your tongue is normally pink and has small bumps that help you taste and feel food. Sometimes, these bumps can get bigger and hold germs, food, tobacco, and other things that can make your tongue yellow.


Yellow tongue is usually not a problem and goes away by itself when you clean your mouth well. But sometimes, yellow tongue can mean that you have another problem that needs treatment.


Why does my tongue turn yellow?

There are many reasons why your tongue can turn yellow, such as:

- Not cleaning your mouth well: If you don't brush your teeth and tongue often, you may have dirt and germs on your tongue that can make it yellow.

- Black hairy tongue: This is when the dead skin on your tongue grows longer and holds germs and other things that can change the color of your tongue. Your tongue may not look hairy but rather soft or fuzzy.

- Dry mouth or breathing through your mouth: If you don't have enough spit in your mouth or breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, you may have less water and more germs on your tongue that can cause yellow spots.

- Geographic tongue: This is when you have smooth, different-shaped patches on your tongue that may move around. These patches may look yellow or other colors depending on the germs there.

- Certain foods, medicines, or things: Some foods (like curry), medicines (like antibiotics), or things (like tobacco or alcohol) can make your tongue yellow for a short or long time.

- Problems with your body: Some problems with your body, like Sjogren's syndrome or psoriasis, can affect your mouth and make your tongue yellow.

- Stomach problem: This is when your stomach is sore because of a germ called Helicobacter pylori. This germ can also affect your mouth and make your tongue yellow.

- Liver or gallbladder problem: This is a rare but serious problem that makes your skin, eyes, and tongue yellow because of a chemical called bilirubin in your blood.


How to make my yellow tongue go away?

The way to make your yellow tongue go away depends on why it happens. In most cases, cleaning your mouth better can help. You should:

- Brush your teeth and tongue two times a day with toothpaste with fluoride and use floss every day.

- Brush your tongue gently with a soft toothbrush or a tongue cleaner to remove any dirt and germs.

- Rinse your mouth with water or a germ-killing mouthwash after eating and drinking.

- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth wet and wash away any food bits.

- Don't smoke, chew tobacco, drink alcohol, or eat or drink things that can make your tongue yellow.

- Eat healthy food that has fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to make more spit.

If your yellow tongue is because of another problem with your body, like stomach problem or liver problem, you should see your doctor for help. Your doctor may give you medicine or tell you to do things differently to fix your problem.


When to see a doctor for yellow tongue?

You should see a doctor for your yellow tongue if:

- It stays yellow for more than two weeks even when you clean your mouth well.

- It hurts, feels hot, or makes it hard to eat or swallow.

- It spreads to other parts of your mouth or throat.

- You have other signs like fever, feeling tired, losing weight, stomach pain, throwing up, peeing less, or having yellow skin or eyes.

These signs may mean that you have a more serious problem that needs medical attention.


What can happen if I have yellow tongue?

Having a yellow tongue can make you feel bad about yourself. You may feel shy or uncomfortable about how your tongue looks and not want to talk to people. You may also have bad breath because of the germs on your tongue.


In rare cases, having a yellow tongue can mean that you have a serious problem with your body that can make you very sick if you don't treat it. For example, liver problem can make your liver stop working, bleed, get infected, or get cancer. Stomach problem can make holes, bleed, or get cancer in your stomach.


So, it is important to see your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that suggest a more serious cause of your yellow tongue. Finding and treating the problem early can prevent or lower the chance of bad things happening and make you feel better.


How to stop my tongue from turning yellow?

The best way to stop your tongue from turning yellow is to keep your mouth clean and healthy. You should:

- Brush your teeth and tongue two times a day with toothpaste with fluoride and use floss every day.

- Rinse your mouth with water or a germ-killing mouthwash after eating and drinking.

- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth wet and wash away any food bits.

- Don't smoke, chew tobacco, drink alcohol, or eat or drink things that can make your tongue yellow.

- Eat healthy food that has fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to make more spit.

- Visit your doctor often for checkups and cleaning.

- See your doctor if you have any problems with your body that may affect your mouth or cause yellow tongue.

By doing these things, you can keep your tongue pink and healthy and stop yellow tongue from happening or coming back.


Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist


Kify Hospital

Danavaipeta

Rajahmundry

Phone : 85000 23456


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