Read below about tongue numbness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your tongue numbness from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Tongue Numbness Symptoms

Numbness is a loss of sensation in a body part. Many people have experienced this sensation upon falling asleep for too long on a crooked arm or typing for too long on a keyboard. However, symptoms of tongue numbness are not as common an occurrence and can be very frightening. Furthermore, the numbness may be associated with other symptoms that may feel strange and disconcerting.

For example, symptoms you may also experience that accompany your tongue numbness include:

These symptoms may occur in the tongue or close to the tongue such as around the mouth. These tongue numbness symptoms are often temporary, but unlike being able to find quick relief for symptoms such as hand numbness, tongue numbness may be more difficult to resolve. As a result, it is important to follow up with your doctor and get appropriate care as soon as you notice tongue numbness symptoms.

Tongue Numbness Causes

Numbness is generally the result of injury, compression or irritation of a nerve or a branch of one of the nerves in the body part effected. The tongue is composed of nerves and small blood vessels that begin higher up in the face and brain. The nerves and vessels branch off in various directions to give blood flow and sensation throughout the tongue.

Furthermore, the tongue is one of the first body parts that comes into contact with the outside world – whether it is food, drink or other substances, the tongue is a gateway for protecting the body from harmful elements. As a result, the tongue is very sensitive, and a common defense mechanism it utilizes to protect the body includes numbness.

There are many causes that can affect the nerves and blood vessels in the tongue as well as causes that trigger a protective response from the tongue.

Inflammatory causes:

  • Allergic: If your tongue comes into contact with a food, chemical or substance that your immune systems recognizes as harmful, it may swell and become tingly and numb due to the reaction [1].
  • Autoimmune: Many inflammatory diseases or underlying illnesses that result in the body attacking itself can also affect the nerves in the tongue and cause injury that results in numbness [2]. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis and lupus are examples of such autoimmune diseases.
  • Infectious: Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease and viral infections such as shingles can cause inflammation and nerve injury that results in numbness and paralysis of the face. This paralysis can spread to also include the tongue and around the mouth.

Environmental causes:

  • Vitamin Imbalance: There are certain vitamins that are essential to healthy nerve function such as vitamins D and B12. Deficiencies in these vitamins over time can lead to nerve damage and injury [3]. Conversely, exposure to too much Vitamin B6 can cause numbness.
  • Mineral Imbalance: There are certain minerals in the body such as calcium that are essential to the body's general functioning. Deficiencies in these minerals (hypocalcemia) can lead to tingling around the mouth that can feel very similar to tongue numbness.

Systemic disease causes:

  • Central Nervous System: Numbness of the tongue or around the month can often be the signaling symptom of central nervous system conditions such as imminent migraines or strokes [4,5].
  • Metabolic: Dysfunction in the processes that your body uses day-to-day, for example glucose regulation (hypoglycemia), can also affect the way your nerves function causing numbness and tingling in the tongue, the mouth and other body parts [6].
  • Vascular: Conditions that result in constriction of the blood vessels in the tongue can lead to tongue numbness because the tongue is not receiving the blood flow that it needs.

5 Possible Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced tongue numbness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

  1. 1.Low Calcium Level

    Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood, which helps the heart and other muscles function properly, and is needed to maintain strong teeth and bones.

    Problem should go away with home care within weeks.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Allergic Reaction (Not Life - Threatening)

    When the body encounters a harmful substance, it responds with inflammation and swelling that can be protective. In many individuals, the body responds this way to substances that are not normally harmful, like foods or pollen. This is the basis of allergy, or Type 1 Hypersensitivity.

    Symptoms should resolve in a matter of hours.

    Top Symptoms:
    swollen face, swollen lips, lip numbness, hives, red swollen bumps or patches with a pale center, lip redness
    Symptoms that never occur with allergic reaction (not life-threatening):
    shortness of breath, throat itching
    Primary care doctor

    Tongue Numbness Symptom Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having tongue numbness.

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  3. 3.Cold Sore

    Cold sores (also called oral herpes or fever blisters), are viral infections of the mouth caused by the herpes virus type 1. You were probably infected very early in life as a child when an adult kissed you. The virus stays asleep (dormant) and causes infections every now and then after exposure to lots of sun or emotional/physical stress. It is contagious when an outbreak is happening, but treatment is limited unless you are immunocompromised.

    1-2 weeks. Natural healing process starts within 24 hours of the initial sore starting.

    Top Symptoms:
    mouth lesions, itchy mouth, pain on the outside of the lips, lip numbness, burning pain on the outside of the lips
    Symptoms that always occur with cold sore:
    mouth lesions
  4. 4.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.


    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Emergency medical service
  5. 5.Bell's Palsy

    Bell's palsy (facial palsy) causes sudden weakness in facial muscles and makes half of the face appear to droop. The exact cause is unknown, but it's believed to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of your face or may be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

    Weeks to 6 months

    Top Symptoms:
    arm weakness, facial numbness, arm weakness, hearing loss, pain on one side of the face
    Symptoms that always occur with bell's palsy:
    face weakness, weakness in one side of the face
    Primary care doctor

Tongue Numbness Treatments, Relief and Prevention

Tongue numbness is a symptom that necessitates prompt follow-up with your doctor.

While you wait for you appointment, try these at home remedies in order to combat your tongue numbness symptoms:

  • Balanced diet rich in essential vitamins to keep the nerves healthy: Fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins can provide your body with the nutrition necessary to keep your nerves healthy.
  • Regular exercise: Maintaining an optimal weight with exercise as well as a balanced diet can prevent and also control metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes that can cause your tongue numbness symptoms.
  • Avoid foods that may trigger an allergic reaction: Take note of foods that seem related to your symptoms. Common foods that trigger allergies include nuts, fish and wheat. Some people are allergic to common fruits and vegetables such as melons or peaches.

Depending on the cause of your tongue numbness symptoms, your doctor may first suggest the following treatment options.

  • Supplementation: If your symptoms are due to vitamin or mineral imbalance, your doctor may prescribe supplements that you can take to help your body get back on track.
  • Medications to relax blood vessels: There are many different kinds of medication that can combat constriction in your blood vessels by dilating (relaxing) them and promoting circulation.
  • Migraine medication: If your tongue numbness has been a signal for imminent migraines, your doctor can prescribe medication to give you relief from your headaches.

If you experience any symptoms of speech difficulty, facial drooping, or weakness to the point you cannot other body parts call 911 immediately. These could be signs of a stroke. The key signs can be remembered by the acronym FAST (facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911) [7].

Furthermore, if you experience tongue numbness in addition to wheezing or trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, throat tightness or hives also call 911 immediately. These could be signs of a serious allergic reaction.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Tongue Numbness

  • Q.Where in your mouth are you numb?
  • Q.Does your throat feel itchy or irritated?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Relax your face. Have someone else tap the corner of your mouth. Does your lip or face twitch with each tap? (This is known as Chvostek's sign.)

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our tongue numbness symptom checker to find out more.

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Tongue Numbness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced tongue numbness have also experienced:

    • 5% Facial Numbness
    • 4% Sore Throat
    • 4% Headache
  • People who have experienced tongue numbness had symptoms persist for:

    • 47% Less Than a Day
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 11% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced tongue numbness were most often matched with:

    • 44% Low Calcium Level
    • 44% Allergic Reaction (Not Life - Threatening)
    • 11% Cold Sore
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Tongue Numbness Symptom Checker

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  1. Syed M, Chopra R, Sachdev V. Allergic Reactions to Dental Materials - A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR. 2015;9(10):ZE4-ZE9. NCBI Link.
  2. Burning Mouth Syndrome. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. GARD Link.
  3. Skerrett PJ. Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Be Sneaky, Harmful. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Updated August 14, 2018. Harvard Health Publishing Link.
  4. Shimohata M, Watanabe Y, Tanaka H. Numbness in the Tip of the Tongue and Lower Lip Caused By Thalamic Hemorrhage. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. 2014;23(3):557-559. NCBI Link.
  5. Folk J, Folk M. Burning, Pins and Needles in Your Tongue Anxiety Symptom. Updated November 20, 2018. Link.
  6. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose). American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association Link.
  7. Act F.A.S.T. to Identify a Stroke in Progress. SecondsCount. Published May 18, 2016. SecondsCount Link.