Reasons Your Tongue Might Tingle

That pins-and-needles or numb feeling you sometimes get in your hands or feet can happen to your tongue, too. It can tingle for lots of reasons, such as accidentally biting your tongue or more serious problems like a stroke.

Here are some of the most common causes of a tingling tongue and how to deal with them.

Stroke

This is when a blood clot cuts off the flow of blood to your brain. A stroke can make your tongue tingle by preventing your brain from getting enough oxygen. That can lead to problems with nerves and muscles on your face, tongue, and elsewhere.

A stroke also may leave your tongue numb or hard to move. Other signs of a stroke include:

  • A bad headache, especially with a stiff neck
  • Trouble seeing or seeing double
  • Trouble talking or understanding what others are saying
  • A droopy face on one side
  • Weakness or numbness in your face, arm, or leg
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or balance problems

A stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 right away. Every minute of delay may hurt your chances for survival or avoiding permanent damage.

Multiple Sclerosis

When you have MS, your own immune system attacks the nerves in your brain and spinal cord. That can cause numbness or strange sensations, including in your tongue or face.

MS can make it harder for you to chew or swallow and more likely for you to bite your tongue or the inner side of your cheeks. MS is a lifelong condition. So talk to your doctor about your tingling tongue and get it treated. Medication can help lower the number of symptoms and allow you to go longer between MS flares.

MS can cause many other symptoms. These may include:

  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness in different body parts
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Urge to pee or trouble peeing

Get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Nerve Damage

This can happen after dental work or a tongue piercing. Your dentist might hit a nerve or a blood vessel while injecting a numbing drug. That could make your tongue tingle. Usually, the problem goes away on its own within several weeks.

Tongue piercings also may hurt your nerves. The damage is often temporary, but it can be permanent. You might notice that your tongue tingles, food tastes different, or you have trouble moving your tongue. The symptoms usually fade away, but see your doctor and get them checked out.

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Migraines

These pounding headaches can make your tongue, face, and hands numb or tingle. Doctors don’t know why this happens, but faulty electrical or chemical signals in the brain may play a role.

Other symptoms of a migraine include:

  • Problems seeing, or having blind spots
  • Light sensitivity
  • Throwing up
  • Trouble speaking

Get medical help right away if any of these symptoms are new. Prescription medications can help ease your migraines or prevent an attack. You also can try resting in a dark room, pressing a cool washcloth on your forehead or behind your neck, or other home remedies.

Allergic Reaction

Certain foods and medicines can lead to an itchy or tingly tongue, mouth, or throat. This reaction can signal an allergy or sensitivity. A condition called oral allergy syndrome can make your tongue and mouth itch or swell if you eat raw fruit, vegetables, or nuts that have proteins similar to those found in allergy-causing pollen.

If an allergy or another reaction is behind your tongue tingling, you may also have:

It’s rare, but an allergic reaction can close your airways so you can’t breathe. This is an emergency. Call 911 or get to a hospital right away if your tongue itches or swells. Some people may need to carry a drug called an epinephrine autoinjector for severe reactions. For mild cases, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines.

Lack of Vitamins or Minerals

If you don’t get enough of some vitamins and minerals through foods or drinks, or your body doesn’t make enough, you can have a variety of symptoms. One of them is a tingling in your mouth. That may happen if you lack:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Various B vitamins, including B12, which is important for your nerves
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus

See your doctor about any tingling in your tongue or mouth. They can tell if you need supplements, or rule out an underactive thyroid or other issues.

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Canker Sore

These painful ulcers can pop up on the soft areas of your mouth, gums, or under the tongue. They can cause your tongue to tingle or burn, especially a day or two before the sores show up. Lots of things cause canker sores, and most heal in about 2 weeks.

See your doctor if you:

  • Keep getting canker sores
  • Also have a high fever
  • Are in a lot of pain or have trouble eating or drinking
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 29, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: “Numbness or Tingling.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Strokes and TIAs.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Multiple Sclerosis: Frequently Asked Questions,” “Migraine Headaches.”

Journal of the Canadian Dental Association: “Nerve Damage Associated with Inferior Alveolar Nerve Block: Causes and Management.”

American Dental Association: “Oral Piercings.”

Mayo Clinic: “Migraine with Aura,” “Food Allergy,” “Hypoparathyroidism,” “Canker Sore,” “Burning Mouth Syndrome.”

National Health Service (UK): “Oral Allergy Syndrome.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful.”

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