What Causes Pain in Tongue after Drinking Alcohol?

The common side effects of drinking alcohol include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, disturbed sleep, irritability, tremors and anxiety. Some people also develop soreness on their tongue after drinking alcohol. The soreness is due to occurrence of ulcers called canker sores. These usually develop in the morning if you have been drinking at night. Canker sores appear as concave ulcers that have a white coat and a red region surrounding them. The sores usually heal spontaneously within 15 days.  

Why Do You Get Sore Tongue after Drinking Alcohol?

It has still not been conclusively determined why people get sore tongue after drinking. But it is commonly believed that folic acid deficiency and dry mouth can lead to sore tongue.

First all of, are you allergic to alcohol? If every time you drink, you get swollen and sore tongue, then you might want to go to the doctor and have a check-up. Other symptoms may include swollen throat, dizziness, itchy mouth, facial swelling, nasal congestion, etc.

Folic acid deficiency

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 (folate). If you have folic acid deficiency you have an increased risk of developing sore tongue after drinking. Consuming excess alcohol has been linked to folic acid deficiency. Research studies in animal and human subjects show that chronic and excessive consumption of alcohol also leads to it. It has also been reported that intestinal absorption of folic acid is less in people who binge drink alcohol. Furthermore, in monkeys who were fed alcohol for 2 years, folic acid mal-absorption and increased urinary excretion of folic acid was reported.

Treating your folic acid deficiency may help prevent this symptom from occurring.   

What to do: You can prevent or treat folic acid deficiency by consuming foods rich in folate such as leafy green vegetables, including spinach and kale, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, egg yolk, jacket potato, lentils, legumes, peas, sunflower seeds, oranges, papaya and kiwi. You can also consume vitamin B supplements after consulting with your doctor.   

Dry mouth

A common side effect of alcohol consumption is dry mouth. Alcohol acts a diuretic and increases the excretion of water from your body. People who consume excess amount of alcohol often develop dehydration for prolonged duration. Dry mouth appears as a side effect of dehydration.

Saliva provides an anti-microbial effect, protecting your mouth from infections and it also helps maintain the pH balance in your mouth. When there is less saliva in your mouth you have a higher risk of developing mouth sores and infections. You can develop sore tongue after drinking alcohol if you have dry mouth.

What to do: You can avoid the symptom of sore tongue by preventing dehydration. Whenever you drink alcoholic beverages, make sure you drink water in between to reduce the diuretic effect of alcohol. Furthermore, drink lots of water/fluids throughout the day to prevent dry mouth. If you have consumed alcoholic beverages in the evening then drinking water before going to bed may prevent soreness of tongue in the morning. You can also rinse your mouth with water as soon as you consume an alcoholic drink to prevent the occurrence of sore tongue. Chewing a sugar free gum can also prevent the occurrence of dry mouth and sore tongue. Artificial saliva is also available in the market which can help moisturize your mouth.

When Should You See the Doctor?

Apart from drinking alcohol, certain underlying health conditions such as Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus and mouth cancers may also cause sore tongue. Alcohol is considered a major risk factor after tobacco use for the development of mouth cancers.  

If the sores in your mouth last for more than two weeks or if they occur more often you should immediately consult your doctor as they may be caused by an underlying health condition.      

How to Manage Sore Tongue after Drinking Alcohol

If you have a sore tongue that is bothering you, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the soreness:

  1. Avoid everything irritating and take multi vitamin B.
  2. You can apply glycerin or honey over the tongue sore.
  3. You can also apply ulcer gels over these sores if the burning sensation is severe.  
  4. You can apply alum powder on the ulcer which may help the ulcer heal.
  5.  You can also use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) which has mucosal healing properties. It is available as chewable tablets and powders in stores.
  6. You can apply tincture of propolis on your mouth ulcer. Propolis has anti-septic and healing properties and it is cement made by honey bees.
  7. Avoid acidic and spicy foods which can increase the soreness on your tongue. Abrasive foods such as nuts should also be avoided. 
 
 
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