This week I reluctantly visited with an ear, nose and throat specialist to find out results from a tongue biopsy. Why? Well this story started approximately six months ago. Last summer I began to notice some mild discomfort on the top and back of my tongue. A month later I began questioning why the entire top of my tongue became coated with a white, pasty film. After a little reading I discovered what was described and felt like oral thrush. Sinus drainage has been a problem for me for as long as I can remember, but I don’t recall ever growing such a distasteful fungus inside my mouth.
Several weeks later the pain on top and sides of my tongue increased, and the discoloration would not cease. This was also about the time I started having a deep aching pain below one of my teeth. My dentist didn’t find any oral hygiene issues but did notice a few pesky tongue ulcers upon observation. I thought perhaps a chipped molar may be the culprit, but even after a light grinding of the tooth and some prescribed mouthwash the pain remained constant for weeks. Next I dropped by my family physician for a quick visit. He promptly agreed that it was indeed thrush and prescribed a bottle of clotrimazole lozenges. Lozenges. That can’t be bad, right? Let’s just say they don’t add much in the taste department. Another week went by and things were looking better. I still had some mild irritation, but the white stuff just would not go away.
Intensity of the thrush would come and go week by week, but the ulcers and sores near the back of my tongue became worse. Over the next few months I relentlessly tried rinsing with hydrogen peroxide nightly before bed, then tried salt water and purchased a tongue scraper. Yes, a tongue scraper. I’m sure my wife can attest I became a more attractive man due to the persistent scrubbing of goo off my tongue each morning. Out of all the experiments, I still think it has helped the most.
Finally, six months later I decided to check in with my general doctor once more. Puzzled as usual by my exotic diseases, he referred me to an ENT. Unsure of what to think, I took him up on the offer and figured, why not? While the specialist didn’t say much about the hostile white growth all around my tongue or the large discolored spot near the tip, he did think there was an abnormality on one side of my tongue and thought it may be leukoplakia. First he prescribed nystatin for a week to fight off a possible fungal infection, but it didn’t seem to help by my follow up appointment. “Do you think it may be a side effect from one of my medications?” I questioned.” I had checked with my pharmacist and learned that sulfasalizine may indeed be the culprit. Well the only way to tell is to do a biopsy to make sure it’s nothing serious.” Great, I thought to myself. Here we go again. Jumping through hoops is my specialty after all.
Thankfully, the results from the biopsy found nothing to be wrong. So is it the medicine? Back in December I asked my rheumatologist if I could reduce my sulfasalazine intake and he agreed to give it a try. Stepping down from 3,000mg daily to only 2,000 didn’t seem to help much however. I am still scraping daily, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide/salt water nightly, and filling myself with as many nutritional foods as possible without much change in appearance or irritation. Despite the relief that my tongue is not cancerous, I still feel left in the dark. More questions have arisen, including whether my intestinal health is a clue, candida is running amok or perhaps it’s part of or related to the mysterious autoimmune arthritis picture.
The investigation continues…