Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can acid reflux cause one's tongue to turn white?"
Is it true that acid reflux can make your tongue turn white? I have had heartburn so frequently that I'm starting to wonder if I have acid reflux. I read that white tongue can be a symptom but it seems like the back of my tongue has always had a whitish film, even before I ever had heartburn.
There are many causes of white tongue, most of which fortunately are not medically serious. The physicians who are well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your primary care physician. The most common cause of white tongue is simply of film of debris composed of food particles, skin cells, and bacteria in the mouth. This is perfectly normal, but at times it can be unsightly. Lifestyle modifications that you can perform to minimize this include drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Occasionally, heartburn can be associated with white tongue by causing inflammation of the tongue and making the film of debris appear more prominent. Occasionally, white tongue is caused by a fungal infection in the mouth called thrush. This can occur in healthy people, but is more common in those who have an immune condition such as HIV infection. Rarely, white tongue is a precancerous lesion known as leukoplakia, more common in smokers. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your specific condition will likely require a physical examination by your personal physician. If you have concerns about your white tongue, you should speak about this with a physician. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that you schedule on office visit with your primary care doctor to discuss your frequent heartburn.
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