What is the meaning of a yellow tongue? Is it cancer, STDs, furry tongue or oral thrush? Discover the causes including in infants, with bad breath, dry mouth and sore tongue. You will also learn how to get rid of how to treat these coatings.
What does a yellow tongue mean?
A yellow tongue is considered as an initial sign of the disorder called black hairy tongue, which is also called lingua villosa nigra. This is where it will become black or brown, and it will look hairy. In some instances, it is also a sign of jaundice, which is a problem caused by liver and gallbladder problems. We will see other possible meanings while looking at the causes.
This is a major problem to both adults and infants and it can affect pregnant women due to hormonal imbalance during the period.
It mostly appears when you get up in the morning. This is because when you sleep, bacteria or other microorganisms will build upon the tongue. This will lead to a yellowish-green, yellowish-white, or yellowish-orange color.
What causes this discoloration? The following are the causes:
Yellow furry tongue
This occurs when there is a buildup of dead skin and food remains and when the papillae become enlarged, swollen, or rough. When this buildup is paired with bacteria or yeast, it can cause it to look yellow or black and hairy.
After use of Antibiotic
The use of antibiotics can create an imbalance of microorganisms in your mouth. This imbalance can, in turn, cause some kinds of bacteria or yeast to thrive and consequently one will have a tongue with this color.
Excess growth of bacteria in the mouth and poor digestion
Usually, a thick coating of yellow color is due to poor digestion, and intestinal permeability or gut flora imbalance. This condition is related to the black hairy tongue.
When you experience a thick and yellow coating on the back of your tongue may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI).
It will most often occur due to an underlying cause. In any case, there is excess bilirubin, which are red blood cells with yellow pigment.
Piercing, tooth extraction, or tonsillectomy
This discoloration may appear after having a tongue piercing, tooth extraction, or tonsillectomy which turn facilitate papillae inflammation. It’s important that you follow proper oral care after these procedures to reduce the risk of infection.
Oral care products
Some mouthwash products can make it appear yellow or orange. Mouthwashes containing oxidizing agents are the biggest culprit of this.
This is either a white or yellowish coating is common after post-nasal drainage. It is a condition characterized by excessive mucus accumulation at the back of the throat and nose.
It is a major known cause a rough or coarse rash on various parts of the body including trunk, limp and face. It also causes red bumps on the tongue as well as a yellowish white coat or film.
Other lesser causes include:
Besides the above causes, some of the infrequent cause include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Excessive tobacco use
- Eating soft food that does not rub or scrap off the dead skin from it.
When with a sore throat
Some instances, you may experience both yellow tongue and sore throat. This can have an impact on other areas making one have an earache, swollen glands, cough, fatigue, earache, bad breath, yellow mucus, sores, and stuffy nose. Some of the following diseases are usually associated with a sore throat and yellowing of tongue:
Although it is a rare unique sign of HIV/ aids, the coating is usually caused by an oral infection due to a weakened immune system. Oral thrush, dry mouth, tooth decay, canker sores, cold sores, and gum disease are all results of one having HIV/AIDS.
Strep throat – yellow spots on the back of the tongue
In strep throat, there may be tiny white and yellow spots on its back and tonsils. Its symptoms include high fever, pain in swallowing, severe sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (or glands) and tonsils as well as white and yellow spots common at the back of your tonsils and tongue.
This is mostly transmitted via saliva by Epstein-Barr virus (EPV). In the condition, the tongue and tonsils may develop a white and yellow coating.
This can sometimes create fear and worry to some people since they feel it might be a sign of oral cancer. However, the discoloration is probably due to another problem unless you show other signs of oral cancer like unexplained bleeding in the mouth, numbness or a loss of feeling in the mouth, difficulty chewing, speaking, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw, and sudden weight loss.
In baby, toddlers or infants
Yellow tongue affects children or infants just as it affects adults. Since it can be caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria or yeast in the mouth, anyone at any age is prone to it, if conditions are favorable.
However, grown individuals are more likely to develop this discoloration, because they are exposed to all of the factors that facilitate to them, such as poor oral hygiene, smoking, and liver and gallbladder disease.
In rare situations, infants with have jaundice caused by liver or gallbladder issues, which also causes yellowing of the tongue.
Also, toddlers may get it from dynamics in the normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth following antibiotic use.
Note: Also, if you are breast-feeding and you have recently been on antibiotics yourself, the levels of your healthy bacteria can be affected. This can make you, or your baby, more likely to develop thrush.
Yellow tongue bad breath
Most coated tongue causes halitosis. This refers to a Bad breath that originates from the nasal passages or oral cavities and is, in essence, a foul smell emanating from the nose or mouth because of the presence of sulfur-producing bacteria.
Majority of people suffering from this condition are usually unaware since it is often tricky to smell the foul odor on oneself.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Oral Science found that people with morning breath tend to have more slightly acidic saliva and may have a basic tongue coating that causes it to turn yellow.
If it occurs alongside a dry mouth
Dry mouth usually enhances halitosis, which is typically accompanied by tongue turning to yellow due to a favorable condition that favors the development of yeast or bacteria.
Dry mouth again, enhances all the bacteria to become more concentrated in the saliva, and they tend to go to more readily into the air. When this occurs, bad breath will be stronger and more noticeable at greater distances.
Moreover, the pH of the mouth becomes altered, and this creates an environment that is more favorable to the development of anaerobic bacteria. Since there is less saliva the flushing or cleansing effect of saliva is reduced.
Sore yellow tongue
Sores on here can either be white or yellow, though they may turn gray as they begin to heal. It is believed that they are due to tongue ulcer. Some of the causes these ulcers include:
- Canker sores
- Oral cancer
- Poor oral care
How to get rid or treat it
If you want to get rid of the yellow tongue, some of the most recommended treatments include the following:
- Gargle a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria.
- Improve your intake of fiber to improve digestion and, in turn, improve gastrointestinal health, which can reduce this discoloration from happening.
- Maintain better oral hygiene with brushing, flossing, and mouthwash.
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash as it is less irritating.