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Things I Have: Geographic Tongue

November 14, 2009

The New England Journal of Medicine has posted a new “Images in Clinical Medicine” image, and this time it’s geographic tongue (and it’s freely available without a subscription to the journal). And that happens to be something I experience, so I thought I’d link to the info.

Basically, some of the bumpy parts of the tongue flatten out, making patterns kind of like continents/maps (hence the “geographic” moniker). Sometimes it kind of hurts. Sometimes it kind of itches. The patches are differently shaped and located over time. MedlinePlus and eMedicine both provide more info.

It’s not harmful, just odd, and can draw comments/reactions from people who see it and don’t know what it is. The NEJM piece explains that “Geographic tongue (benign migratory glossitis) is a benign inflammatory condition that affects approximately 2% of the world’s population.”

2%, huh? I wonder what percent have *both* geographic tongue *and* Asian flush…

[Thanks to Becky for pointing me to the NEJM piece]
[Note: I initially used the word “afflicted” in the post title, but I decided I didn’t like the suffering that implied. So I changed it.]

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna Locke permalink
    November 15, 2009 12:07 am

    You can say you’re worldly.

  2. Tracy permalink
    November 16, 2009 8:45 am

    Ooh! I have / had geographic tongue, too! I don’t have it consistently, it comes and goes – right now my tongue looks normal. Haven’t had it in a while. Kinda freaky the first time – I woke up, brushed my teeth, looked in the mirror and said, “WTF is on my tongue?!”

  3. wfl permalink
    November 25, 2009 9:50 pm

    There are some posts re: geographic tongue over at, including some reports of GT improving after adopting a gluten-free diet.

  4. Kristen permalink
    December 20, 2009 12:40 am

    Hi Tracy, same thing happened to me. Woke up one morning and saw two circles on my tongue with white borders and I flipped out! I thought something terrible was wrong with me. It’s nice to know someone else experienced that same reaction too. 🙂

    I don’t have any sensitivity like others do, do you?

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