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Mouth Diseases

Bleeding tongue

06/19/2006

Question:

When I eat some tomatoes (occasionally, not all) and some other fruits, my tongue will react with a soreness, inflammation, and large grooves in it. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is very uncomfortable. Last night I ate a white peach and half a tomato. Last week a white peach, from the same batch, caused a tongue reaction. Last night I got a reaction from one of them or both, but something different happened. My tongue started bleeding in the center of the tongue. There was a flap of skin on top of my tongue that could be lifted and under it there was a medium flow of blood. I had to hold the spot for an hour, applying pressure, to get it to slow down. Then after about 2 hours the bleeding, it stopped altogether. Now there is a dark stop, where the flap is, with the clotted blood darkening the area. Have you any thoughts on the matter?

Answer:

The problems you are describing are likely unrelated.

The sensitivity of the tongue may be due to an underlying condition known as geographic tongue or erythema migrans.  Geographic tongue is a benign, relatively common condition that usually affects adults.  In most people, it is completely asymptomatic but the tongue can become sensitive, especially when exposed to acidic or spicy foods.

Bleeding is not a feature of geographic tongue.  This problem most likely represents inadvertent trauma or laceration of the tongue surface (maybe by a sharp food like a fish bone, potato chip or peanut shell).  That would explain the flap of loose skin.  There are other possibilities that are much less common.  Should the bleeding problem persist, I recommend you see your dentist or a dental specialist for a clearer diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

Good luck! 

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University