Aphtae is damage to the mucous membranes of the throat, gums, lips, tonsils (tonsils) and tongue. They can occur repeatedly or only once. When viewed from the outside, the affected area shows a milky yellow spot surrounded by a reddish edge.
The affected area feels unpleasant, hurts and burns. This sensation increases as soon as the affected area is touched, e.g. when eating, drinking or speaking. The intensity of the pain varies from person to person, as the sensation of pain varies from person to person.
Aphtae on the tongue is more painful because the tongue is constantly exposed to mechanical stress. The most common form of aphtae on the tongue is on the edge or tip of the tongue. Aphthae are subdivided according to their size.
The smallest form (minor form) has a diameter of less than one centimeter. It is as large as a lens and heals untreated within two weeks. This is also the most common form of aphtae.
It occurs in 80-90% of cases. Furthermore, aphthae can occur with a diameter of up to 3 cm or even larger. This is the major form, which takes months to heal and leaves a scar.
There is the rare possibility that many small aphtae occur simultaneously on the tongue. This is known as herpetiform ulcers. The tissue directly around the aphtae is not inflamed. However, it is not unusual for the pain to appear much stronger and greater than the small area of the tongue that is actually affected. The course of the pain varies and can extend from days to weeks or even months.
Causes for tongue aphthae
The exact causes which can be held responsible for the development of aphthae are not yet known. However, it is assumed that there are various factors which favour the development of aphthae, as well as a genetic predisposition. – It is known that gluten is a possible trigger in people who suffer from gluten intolerance.
- Furthermore, a lack of vitamin B12, iron or folic acid promotes the development of lingual aphthae. – A changed hormone balance is also associated with the development. Especially during pregnancy, the monopause and in connection with the menstrual cycle an increased occurrence of aphtae is observed.
This explains why women suffer more frequently from aphtae than men. – There is a possibility that various foods favour the development. These include walnuts and hazelnuts (also as a component of chocolate), citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy dishes and alcoholic drinks.
- On average, smokers suffer from aphthae more often than non-smokers. The deposits that form on the tongue during smoking may be related to this. These promote increased cornification of the epithelium and thus aphthae on the tongue.
- People whose immune system is weakened suffer more from aphthae. HIV patients show an increased susceptibility to aphthae, which can be attributed to the fact that HIV patients have a weaker immune system due to the virus. – Other systemic diseases such as chronic intestinal diseases, a reduction in white blood cells or Behcet’s disease can also trigger aphthae.
Behcet’s disease is a multisystemic disease that affects the blood vessels. – Herpes and influenza viruses are also associated with the formation of aphthae in the tongue. – Nowadays, more and more people suffer from stress or are affected by a mental condition such as depression. As this affects and weakens the entire organism, this should not be ignored as a cause. – Incorrectly fitted or unmaintained dentures, such as a bridge or total prosthesis, which thereby put excessive strain on the surrounding tissue, also favour the formation of aphthae on the tongue.