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When a 64-year-old man stuck out his tongue for a physical exam, doctors could immediately tell something was off: Instead of a typical, textured tongue, his was smooth and shiny. It didn't take long for them to recognize why: The man's taste buds were missing.
His tongue's strange appearance would turn out to be a sign of an underlying blood condition that required a relatively simple treatment, according to a new report of the case.
Man - Singapore - Doctor - Pain - Redness
The man, who lives in Singapore, went to the doctor after he experienced pain and redness in his tongue along with a burning sensation around his lips, which had lasted six months, according to the report, published today (Oct. 16) in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors from the National University of Singapore observed that the man's glossy tongue was missing "papillae," the small bumps on the tongue that often contain taste buds.
Man - Symptoms - Condition - Glossitis - Inflammation
The man's symptoms fit a condition called atrophic glossitis, or inflammation of the tongue that leads to changes in color and texture, including the loss of many papillae, according to Healthline.
But what had caused the atrophic glossitis? Blood tests revealed an important clue: The man's levels of vitamin B12 were very low.
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