BLACK TONGUE: COMMON CAUSES AND TREATMENTS
While it may be a shocking experience to see a black tongue looking back at you in the mirror, the most common causes of black tongues are not something to become alarmed about. In many cases this is a temporary condition that will go away without any treatment.
Pepto Bismol (and similar over-the-counter medications containing bismuth subsalicylate) is one of the most common causes. This treatment for whatever digestive complaints you may have can also cause your tongue to turn harmlessly black. This is neither harmful nor is the treatment difficult.. Simply stop taking the Pepto Bismol. Typically, it will take your tongue about 3 days to return to its normal color.
Not too surprisingly, smoking can also turn your tongue black. Smoking can alter the chemistry in your mouth, allowing normally harmless flora to get out of control. Effective treatments include brushing your tongue with a soft toothbrush, and using mouthwash. This is not likely to be a permanent cure unless you discontinue smoking.
Some antibiotics can cause black tongues. Once you complete your course of antibiotics the black tongue should go away on its own. If the black tongue seriously interferes with your life and you are considering discontinuing antibiotics, consult your physician first.
Some asthma inhalers may cause a black tongue in certain individuals. Your physician may want to reduce your dose or switch you to another type of inhaler.
Usually black tongue is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. The first step in the treatment will be to remove any of the causes of irritation that are listed above. Medication changes should always be made under the advice of your physician. If the black tongue persists, your physician may prescribe an anti-fungal or antibacterial medication for you.
One uncommon but potentially serious disease that can cause black tongue is Sjogren's Syndrome. If the simpler treatments for black tongue are not effective your physician may want to evaluate you for this condition.
Most of the time the cause of black tongue is not as serious as it may first appear. Usually the causes and treatments are very straight forward once you recognize the source of the problem.
This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for a doctor's advice. Always consult a physician before discontinuing medications.