Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur if a person lacks the vitamin in their diet. People that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are at risk of not getting enough B12 because the best sources of B12 are from foods of an animal origin. Certain health conditions can also affect a person’s absorption of B12 from foods, such as pernicious anaemia. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells in the body and helps keep nerves healthy. When a person is lacking in the vitamin, both a sore tongue and ulcers may occur.
A sore tongue is associated with a condition called glossitis (inflammation of the tongue).
There are three signs on the tongue that signal glossitis and vitamin B12 deficiency, say experts.
These signs include:
A smooth tongue – this is because all the tiny bumps on your tongue that contain your taste buds stretch out and disappear.
A painful tongue that can change the way you eat and speak.
A swollen and inflamed tongue that has long straight lesions.
In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, glossitis with linear lesions in early signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency were analysed.
The study noted: “The classic oral manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency is considered nonspecific.
“We describe four patients with oral linear lesions associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.
“Patients were free of neurologic symptoms and anaemia at diagnosis.
“We believe that glossitis with linear lesions is an early clinical sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
“We recommend the determination of vitamin B12 in such patients, even in the absence of anaemia.”
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Mouth ulcers are common and usually clear up on their own within a week or two.
In most cases, mouth ulcers aren’t a sign of anything serious, but can be very uncomfortable.
However, if present with other symptoms, recurring mouth ulcers could be a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency.
In another study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, atrophic glossitis from vitamin B12 deficiency was investigated.
The study noted: “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.
“Careful history-taking, physical examination, and appropriate laboratory screening can differentiate these causes of glossodynia and direct further therapy.”
Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia is usually treated with injections of vitamin B12.
There are two types of vitamin B12 injections:
It is worth noting that B12 deficiency can be caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet.
According to the NHS, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take every day between meals if this is the case.
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