Tingling Tongue: Causes and Symptoms of Stinging Tongue

Do you suffer from a tingling tongue? A numb, stinging or tingling tongue is medically known as ‘paraesthesia of the tongue’ and often occurs as a result of a disturbed functioning of one or more sensory nerves. The medical term for the absence of sensation is ‘anesthesia’. A tingling tongue can also be caused by disturbed breathing, often seen with hyperventilation. Tingling in the tongue can also be caused by certain conditions. This is often accompanied by other complaints. The most frightening causes of a tingling, pricking, numb or numb tongue can often be remedied quickly. Sometimes a tingling tongue is caused by an underlying condition. A tingling tongue after eating can indicate a food allergy. You may also be allergic to certain medications, often antibiotics. Sometimes a tingling tongue indicates a vitamin deficiency, such as vitamin B12 or other B vitamins. A deficiency of iron and zinc is also possible.

  • A tingling tongue
  • Nerve damage
  • Tingling tongue due to disturbed breathing
  • Causes of a tingling tongue
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Stroke
  • Tingling tongue due to a TIA
  • Alcohol
  • Tingling due to diabetes
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Other causes of a tingling tongue
  • Allergic reaction
  • Food allergy
  • Tingling tongue after eating fruits or vegetables
  • Medicines
  • Sichuan pepper
  • Tongue and mouth burning: no taste, dry mouth
  • Symptoms of stinging tongue
  • Call a doctor
  • Prognosis of stinging sensation in tongue
  • Prevention of irritating tongue

Tingling tongue due to a tongue piercing / Source: Marnanel, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

A tingling tongue

Numbness or a feeling of tingling (a pinprick sensation) in the tongue, medically known as paresthesia of the tongue, usually occurs due to damage to the nervous system. The medical term for the lack of sensation is anesthesia. Damage to the lingual nerve can occur as a complication of dental procedures or surgeries, such as wisdom tooth extraction, implants or root canal treatment. Other conditions that damage the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, as well as brain disorders such as stroke, can also cause numbness and tingling of the tongue. Sometimes these sensations extend to the palate, lips and/or jaws. Tingling of the tongue associated with nerve damage can occur both before and after eating.

Nerve damage

A numb, prickling or tingling sensation in the tongue often occurs as a result of a disturbed functioning of one or more sensory nerves, as a complication of a dental procedure or surgery, such as the removal of a wisdom tooth, the application of implants or a root canal treatment . These sensory nerves are rarely affected during or after dental surgery. If it does happen, it is often due to a technical error, a movement of the patient during drilling or when a pressing hematoma (bruise) or edema (accumulation of fluid in tissue outside the blood vessels) appears postoperatively. When the nerve is damaged, you will experience reduced sensitivity of the lips or chin. In many cases, the complaints can be resolved through proper treatment. The lingual nerve is affected only in exceptional cases, which provokes an anesthetic effect on the edge of the tongue.

Tingling tongue due to disturbed breathing

With disturbed breathing, such as hyperventilation, one often experiences a tingling tongue. In addition, one often experiences stiffness of the tongue. These complaints are caused by too much carbon dioxide being blown out. This disrupts the acidity of the blood and causes the blood vessels to constrict (and the veins in the tongue are already very thin), which can cause tingling around the mouth, in the tongue and in the fingers and feet.

Causes of a tingling tongue

A tingling or prickly tongue can also be caused by certain diseases or conditions, including:


migraines can cause a tingling tongue.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (abbreviated as ‘MS’) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord, which affects many parts of the body over the years.

Seizures or convulsions

Convulsions may be accompanied by a numb or tingling tongue.


A stroke, also called CVA (Cerebro Vascular Accident), is the collective name for a cerebral infarction and a cerebral hemorrhage).

Tingling tongue due to a TIA

A TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is a short-term blockage of a blood vessel in the brain and is often a harbinger of an impending stroke.

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a tingling tongue / Source: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com


Drinking too much alcohol can have devastating effects on the body. Alcohol in particular has a significant negative effect on nerves and muscle cells. If nerves become damaged, tingling sensations can result.

Tingling due to diabetes

For example, people with diabetes may experience tingling in their lips or tongue during a hypo.

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar has fallen below a certain level. People with diabetes can become hypoglycemic if they skip meals or take too much insulin or certain other medications for diabetes. Although it is primarily associated with diabetes, anyone can experience a hypo. Symptoms may include:

  • feeling very shaky, weak or tired
  • feeling very hungry
  • breaking out in a sweat (a sweat attack)
  • being very dizzy (vertigo)
  • being very irritable or emotional (teary).
  • feeling confused (confusion)

As soon as you eat or drink something with sugar in it, such as a candy or fruit juice, your blood sugar can return to normal if it is too low.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause a tingling sensation in your tongue, as well as other strange sensations. Stress and anxiety can cause your tongue to:

  • unusual tingling sensation.
  • feeling as if it is stretched.
  • feeling as if he is numb, frozen, or numb.
  • feeling itchy.
  • feel like it’s shaking.
  • feel painful.
  • feeling as if it is swollen or larger than normal, although in reality it is not.

Underactive thyroid gland

Hypothyroidism is the medical term for an inactive or underactive thyroid gland, which can cause a range of complaints.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

With Raynaud’s phenomenon, the blood supply to the fingers, toes and less often to the lips and tongue is disrupted.

Tingling tongue due to radiotherapy (irradiation) / Source: Adriaticfoto/Shutterstock.com

Other causes of a tingling tongue

A tingling tongue can also be caused by one of these factors:

  • deficiency or excess of various minerals, such as calcium, sodium or potassium;
  • vitamin B12 deficiency (which can cause a range of complaints);
  • heavy metal poisoning;
  • medication: side effects or interactions (when using multiple medications at the same time).
  • exposure to radiation or radiotherapy;
  • brain tumor;
  • smoking.

Allergic reaction

An allergic reaction to a food you’ve eaten or a chemical or drug you’ve been exposed to can make your tongue swell, itch and tingle.

Food allergy

With a food allergy, your immune system incorrectly reacts as if the food is harmful. You may be allergic to the following products, among others:

  • Eggs
  • peanuts
  • fish
  • crustaceans and crustaceans
  • milk
  • wheat
  • soy

Tingling tongue after eating kiwi / Source: Moreharmony, Pixabay

Tingling tongue after eating fruits or vegetables

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is a form of food allergy in which the symptoms mainly occur in the region of the oropharynx. OAS. occurs after consuming certain allergenic foods, often raw vegetables, fruits (such as pineapple and kiwi) and nuts. The Oral Allergy Syndrome is almost always preceded by hay fever. Some adults who are allergic to pollen may develop a swollen or tingling tongue as a result of OAS. The allergy causes you to react to some common raw fruits and vegetables, such as cantaloupe, celery or peaches. It causes mouth irritation and can make your mouth, lips and tongue tingle, swell or become irritated. If you notice that your mouth or tongue tingles after eating a certain food, avoid that food in the future.

Tingling tongue and a metallic taste due to penicillin / Source: Stevepb, Pixabay


Drug allergies can also cause your tongue to swell, itch and tingle. Although antibiotics often cause these reactions, basically any medication can cause allergy symptoms. For example, penicillin can cause a tingling tongue and a metallic taste in the mouth. If you experience any unusual symptoms after starting a new medication , immediately contact the doctor who prescribed the medication.

Get help immediately
If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. These could be signs of a serious and life-threatening allergic reaction:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • hoarseness or the feeling that the throat is closed
  • swelling of the lip or mouth
  • itch
  • hives
  • Difficulty swallowing

Sichuan pepper / Source: Didier Descouens, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Sichuan pepper

Sichuan pepper is named after the Chinese province of Sichuan and is a spice used in Chinese cuisine, but also in the cuisines of Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Japan and the Konkani, a people in India. When you eat a Szechuan dish, you will notice a tingling sensation around your lips and tongue. This is due to the substance hydroxy-alpha-sanshool. This substance is responsible for the numbing and tingling sensation caused by eating foods cooked with Sichuan peppercorns. This substance activates the sensory receptors and ensures that food is experienced in a different way. There is always a tingling sensation. The pepper activates the same nerves when you are lightly touched.

Tongue and mouth burning: no taste, dry mouth

Burning tongue and mouth is a harmless complaint, but can be quite annoying. The complaints often increase during the day and are especially experienced in the evening. Some people only suffer from a burning or painful tongue. Others experience it mainly on the inside of the lips, the palate and sometimes also in the throat. Many people also suffer from a dry mouth or an abnormal, strange taste and sometimes even a completely absent taste.

Symptoms of stinging tongue

Experiencing tongue tingling manifests itself in a tingling sensation on the tongue. It can also sometimes be felt as a burning, stinging, tickling, numbing sensation. Tingling in the tongue can be compared to the feeling of needles or pins touching the tongue or the feeling that the tongue is receiving electric shocks. Numbness and the inability to feel anything on your tongue can sometimes also be symptoms. The tingling sensation can affect not only the tongue, but can sometimes also be felt on the lips, gums, palate, throat or entire mouth. The tingling may be accompanied by dry mouth with increased thirst, taste changes, such as a bitter or metallic taste, or loss of taste.

Call a doctor

Tingling or numbness in the tongue that comes on suddenly and also affects your face, arm, or leg on one side may be a sign of a stroke. A crooked mouth, confused speech or a paralyzed arm are the three core symptoms of a stroke. Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention; call 911 immediately. Tingling that only occurs occasionally or that you can relate to something else, such as an allergy, should disappear on its own. If it lasts more than a few days or becomes very irritating, see your doctor. It’s important to know whether the tingling is a minor problem or a symptom of more serious health problems, such as diabetes, a vitamin deficiency, or multiple sclerosis.

Prognosis of stinging sensation in tongue

If you suffer from recurring tingling sensations on the tongue, it is best to make an appointment with your doctor for examination and diagnosis. It is important to rule out more serious underlying conditions and determine the exact cause of the tingling in the tongue. Sometimes further examination is necessary or your GP will refer you to a specialist in the hospital. Based on a good diagnosis, the doctor is able to initiate the appropriate treatment for the underlying problem.

Prevention of irritating tongue

Tingling sensations on the tongue cannot always be prevented, but if you avoid foods to which you are allergic, you can prevent an allergic reaction. It is also important to consume sufficient essential nutrients to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency. Such a deficiency can cause a tingling sensation in the tongue.

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