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Atrophic Glossitis

Tongue Glazing

Atrophic glossitis is a term describing the atrophic changes of the tongue that is principally seen in various nutritional deficiencies. The term "smooth tongue" is used to illustrate its appearance, and pain, as well as several other features, may be present depending on the etiology. A detailed clinical assessment and a thorough laboratory workup is necessary to identify the underlying cause.


Atrophic glossitis (AG) is a disorder of the tongue mucosa characterized by atrophy of the filiform papillae (and fungiform according to some authors) on the dorsal surface of the tongue [1] [2] [3] [4]. As a result, ulcer-like lesions on the dorsal and lateral tongue appear, and the term "smooth" or "bald" tongue is used to describe the smooth and glossy red-to-pink mucosa [1] [2] [3]. AG is typically seen in adults and elderly individuals, and the most common causes are nutritional deficiencies, (iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, riboflavin, and niacin) and protein malnutrition [1] [2] [5] [6] [7]. In this patient population, pain and a burning sensation of the tongue are frequently reported [4]. In addition to nutritional deficiencies, a number of diseases have been confirmed as possible causes of AG, including amyloidosis, Sjögren syndrome, sarcoidosis, infections (candidiasis, syphilis), bullous dermatoses (pemphigus, bullous pemphigoid), alcohol abuse, exposure to chemical irritants and numerous drugs [1] [2] [3] [5]. Celiac disease, however, a gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is one of the more important causes of AG, in which case chronic diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and growth impairment accompany the changes seen on the tongue [2]. Conversely, anemia is a frequent finding in AG due to iron (sideropenic) or vitamin B12 deficiencies (pernicious anemia). Thus symptoms of weakness and fatigue may be present as well [1] [4].

Pleural Disorder
  • It is often used in muscle spasms. ( latest outcomes from Baclofen 50,607 users ) Atrophic glossitis Atrophic glossitis (smooth tongue) has been reported by people with basal cell carcinoma, pleural disorder, osteoporosis, chronic myeloid leukaemia, asthma[ehealthme.com]
Lesion of the Tongue
  • […] of the tongue is lacking.[nejm.org]
  • Glossitis Symptoms Symptoms and signs of glossitis can include: Mouth pain or burning that affects entire mouth Oral lesions Mouth ulcer Tongue pain or tingling sensation Redness of the tongue Swelling of the tongue Hairy tongue – caused by taste buds[healthool.com]
  • These patches (lesions) give the tongue a map-like or geographic appearance. The lesions often heal in one area and then migrate to a different part of the tongue. This tongue ailment often arises due to a yeast infection.[naijafoodtherapy.com]
  • Further histological findings and the parallel improvement of psoriatic skin lesion and tongue lesion with systemic retinoid treatment supports this hypothesis.[ispub.com]
  • "Skin Lesions: Strawberry Tongue" . Primary Care Dermatology Module (University of Wisconsin Madison) . Retrieved 2007-08-14 . 1 2 3 Treister NS, Bruch JM (2010). Clinical oral medicine and pathology . New York: Humana Press. p. 149.[ipfs.io]
Sore Mouth
  • Sore tongue and sore mouth: systemic diseases that may cause sore tongue and sore mouth. In: MacBryde CM, Blacklow RS, eds. Signs and symptoms, applied pathologic physiology and clinical interpretation, 5th ed. Philadelphia: J. B.[link.springer.com]


The diagnosis of atrophic glossitis mandates a thorough clinical and laboratory workup in order to identify the underlying cause, as the list of diseases that can induce atrophic changes is quite long [1]. The distinct red-to-pink and smooth appearance of the tongue and the presence of erythematous and sharply defined ulcer-like lesions should be easily recognized during the physical examination, suggesting that the role of a proper exam is perhaps crucial in making the initial diagnosis. In addition, a comprehensive history taking is equally important, as it may identify additional complaints, assess if preexisting disorders might cause tongue-related symptoms, determine whether proper dietary intake of nutrients is normal (as malnutrition is a common etiology, especially among the elderly), and exclude alcohol abuse [6]. Once the clinical diagnosis of AG is made, the physician should order a full laboratory workup comprising of a complete blood count (CBC) that often reveals anemia, serum levels of iron, ferritin and total iron binding capacity (TIBC), folic acid, several B group vitamins, gastric parietal cell antibodies, and also homocysteine levels, which could also contribute to atrophy of the tongue [3] [7]. If there is a suspicion of celiac disease then, IgA-endomysial, tissue transglutaminase, and antigliadin antibodies should be tested [3].


  • The blood homocysteine and hematinic levels at baseline and after treatment till all oral symptoms had disappeared were measured and compared by paired t-test.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Systemic Implications and Complications None Treatment Options Median rhomboid glossitis is a benign condition so no treatment is necessary.[dermatologyadvisor.com]
  • All 18 affected patients responded well to local nystatin treatment. No patient had disseminated candidiasis.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Full-color photomicrographs help you identify pathologic elements and provide correct diagnoses and treatment plans. Boxes and tables offer clear, at-a-glance information on the clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment for many conditions.[books.google.com]
  • C. albicans, but not non-albicans Candida, was associated with atrophic glossitis in xerostomia patients who had no systemic predisposing factors, indicating that C. albicans remains a treatment target for Candida-related atrophic glossitis.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]


  • Prognosis of Glossitis The condition responds well to medicines. Complications of Glossitis • Severe inflammation of tongue causes breathing troubles by blocking airways. • Difficulties with speaking, chewing or swallowing.[drthindhomeopathy.com]
  • Prognosis Erythroplasia has areas of dysplasia, carcinoma in situ , or invasive carcinoma in most cases.[nature.com]
  • The ambiguous definition of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) makes evaluation of prognosis and treatment difficult. Anatomy and Physiology The oral cavity is comprised of mucosa, glands, muscle, teeth and sensory receptors.[emedicine.medscape.com]


  • The term "smooth tongue" is used to illustrate its appearance, and pain, as well as several other features, may be present depending on the etiology.[symptoma.com]
  • Etiology The etiology of median rhomboid glossitis is unknown. It is most often hypothesized to be a congenital anomaly or a chronic, localized candida infection.[dermatologyadvisor.com]
  • BACKGROUND: Glossodynia, or painful sensation of the tongue, can have a spectrum of etiologies, such as local infection, trauma, nerve damage, glossitis, or the enigmatic neuropathic pain syndrome, burning mouth disorder (BMD; also known as burning mouth[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Expanded sections on etiology, treatment, and diagnosis of oral cancer (HPV) describe how subtypes can play an important role in the development and natural history of some head and neck cancers, most notably those arising in the oropharynx.[books.google.com]
  • Review Benign migratory glossitis or geographic tongue is common benign disorder of unknown etiology.[ispub.com]


  • Case finding in subjects with clinical conditions known to be associated with celiac disease is currently the best epidemiologic approach to detecting atypical cases 2 ; highly sensitive and specific serologic tests (for endomysial antibodies and tissue[nejm.org]
  • […] general Inflammation or beefy red tongue associated with deficiency states Due to atrophy of tongue papillae, thinning of mucosa and exposure of underlying vasculature Terminology Also called central papillary atrophy, posterior lingual papillary atrophy Epidemiology[pathologyoutlines.com]
  • Atrophic glossitis (AG) or Hunter glossitis or smooth tongue Benign migratory glossitis (BMG) or geographic tongue (GT) or erythema migrans Median rhomboid glossitis (MRG) Herpetic geometric glossitis (HGG) System(s) affected: gastrointestinal (GI) Epidemiology[unboundmedicine.com]
  • "[Incidence of tongue diseases based on epidemiologic studies (review of the literature)].". Fogorvosi szemle . 85 (11): 335–41. PMID 1291323 .[ipfs.io]
  • "[Incidence of tongue diseases based on epidemiologic studies (review of the literature)]". Fogorv Sz (in Hungarian). 85 (11): 335–41. PMID 1291323 .[en.wikipedia.org]
Sex distribution
Age distribution


  • Pathophysiology The filiform papillae anterior to the cicumvate papillae are almost exclusively involved. Systemic Implications and Complications None Treatment Options Median rhomboid glossitis is a benign condition so no treatment is necessary.[dermatologyadvisor.com]
  • Prevalence Varies; usual reported range: 1–14%; higher with nutritional deficiencies Etiology and Pathophysiology Systemic Nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B 12 , folic acid , ascorbic acid ) Anemia (pernicious, iron deficiency) HIV (opportunistic[unboundmedicine.com]
  • Pathophysiology The pathophysiology of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is not understood. It was originally considered a psychogenic illness; however, a neuropathic mechanism for burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is currently favored.[emedicine.medscape.com]
  • Psoriasis: pathophysiology and oral manifestations. Oral Dis 1996; 2:135-44. 23. Zargari O. The prevalence and significance of fissured tongue and geographical tongue in psoriatic patients. Clin Dermatol 2006; 31:192-5. 24.[ispub.com]
  • Psoriasis: pathophysiology and oral manifestations. Oral Dis 1996; 2(2): 135-44. [ ] [PMID: 8957926 ] [107] Fortuna G, Lozada-Nur F, Pollio A, et al.[benthamopen.com]


  • Expanded section on bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws helps you effectively manage patients taking bisphosphonates to prevent bone loss, including information on oral complications, risk factors, and benefits.[books.google.com]
  • With this important information in mind, we can predict the development of the specific autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune atrophic gastritis and autoimmune thyroid diseases and then adopt proper early diagnosis and treatment to prevent the future[clinicaltrials.gov]
  • WAS THERE A WAY TO PREVENT IT? Eating a well balanced diet that has plenty of iron in it (meat!) or supplementing a vegetarian/vegan diet with oral iron therapy can help prevent dietary causes of iron deficiency anemia.[stepwards.com]
  • It can also be prevented by drinking lots of water so as to produce sufficient amounts of saliva which shall prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth.[primehealthchannel.com]
  • User Rating 1.5 ( 2 votes) Prevention Tips Proper diet and nutrition Avoid irritants such as cigarette smoking and acidic or spicy foods Maintain good oral hygiene Watch Out Severe tongue swelling that blocks the airway and interferes with breathing.[mtatva.com]



  1. Reamy BV, Derby R, Bunt CW. Common tongue conditions in primary care. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(5):627-634.
  2. Erriu M, Canargiu F, Orrù G, Garau V, Montaldo C. Idiopathic atrophic glossitis as the only clinical sign for celiac disease diagnosis: a case report. J Med Case Rep. 2012;6:185.
  3. Erriu M, Pili FMG, Cadoni S, Garau V. Diagnosis of Lingual Atrophic Conditions: Associations with Local and Systemic Factors. A Descriptive Review. Open Dent J. 2016;10:619-635.
  4. Ristow Montes G, Duarte Vilella K, Veiga Bonotto D, Compagnoni Martins M, Soares de Lima AA. Atrophic glossitis as a clinical signs of severe anemia – Report of two cases. Polski Przegląd Otorynolaryngologiczny. 2014;3(4):201-204.
  5. Gómez-Moyano E, Martínez-Pilar L, Pérez-Belmonte LM, Godoy-Díaz DJ. Erythema and atrophy on the tongue. Cleve Clin J Med. 2014;81(9):523-524.
  6. Daley TD, Armstrong JE. Oral manifestations of gastrointestinal diseases. Can J Gastroenterol. 2007;21(4):241-244.
  7. Sun A, Lin HP, Wang YP, Chiang CP. Significant association of deficiency of hemoglobin, iron and vitamin B12, high homocysteine level, and gastric parietal cell antibody positivity with atrophic glossitis. J Oral Pathol Med. 2012;41(6):500-504.

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Last updated: 2018-06-22 05:54