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What is Numb Tongue?

A tingling, numb, or somewhat pins and needles annoying feeling is usually due to a loss of sensation from pressure or damage to the nerves. For instance, this sensation may be experienced after sitting in an uncomfortable position for a long time, or in case of falling asleep while resting on an arm. On the other hand, less common is a tingling feeling in the tongue, which usually results from a specific procedure or experience, such as an allergic reaction. In fact, there are certain medical conditions associated with a loss of sensation in the tongue. So, it is very important to be aware of the warning signs for serious medical conditions, such as a stroke.


  • Burning or tingling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Weakness
  • Facial pain

These symptoms may appear in the tongue or close to the tongue such as around the mouth. However, 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. Consequently, it is important to follow up with your doctor and get appropriate care as soon as you notice tongue any numbness symptoms.


Some of the causes of a numb tongue can be very severe, and require immediate treatment On the other hand, some are mild and do not need treatment as the numb tongue resolves on its own. Some of the potential causes of a numb tongue are:

  • Paresthesia: it is one of most common causes of a numb tongue. The sensory nerves are responsible for controlling the taste sensation in the tongue. If there is any strain on these nerves or if they get injured, then it causes paresthesias, which results in a numb tongue. Depending upon the severity of the injury, a numb tongue resulting from Paresthesia can last for days or weeks.
  • Vitamin B deficiency – having very low levels of vitamin B-12 or vitamin B-9 can make the tongue sore and swollen and affect the sense of taste. Moreover, you might also have a tingling sensation in the tongue and in your hands and feet. At the same time, you may feel very tired all the time, because both of these B vitamins are needed to make red blood cells and keep your nerves healthy.
  • Allergic reaction - An allergic reaction to a food you’ve eaten or drug you’ve been exposed to can make your tongue swell, itch, and tingle. Food allergies happen when your immune system gets confused and thinks that a common food is harmful.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Numb Tongue

In order to diagnose the exact cause of numb tongue, patient’s medical history and physical exam are taken. Investigations, which need to be carried out to determine the exact cause of numb tongue, include: X-ray, MRI scan, blood tests etc.

Treatment for numb tongue depends on the underlying cause of the tongue numbness. Some mild causes, such as injury need no treatment and the tongue numbness resolves on its own; whereas, some serious causes such as stroke or tumor need immediate treatment to treat the numb tongue.

When to a Doctor

Tingling or numbness in the tongue that comes on suddenly and also affects your face, arm, or leg on one side could be a sign of a stroke. Facial droop, trouble walking or talking can also be significant signs. Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention so make sure to call your local emergency services. Tingling that only happens now and then or that you can connect to something else, like an allergy or canker sore, should go away by itself. If it continues for more than a few days or becomes very annoying, make sure to see your doctor. It’s very important to know if the tingling is a minor problem or a symptom of more serious health issues, such as diabetes, a vitamin deficiency, or multiple sclerosis.

If you experience any symptoms of speech difficulty, facial drooping, or weakness to the point you cannot other body parts make sure to call 911 immediately. These could be signs of a stroke.