Friday, March 6, 2009

Black Hairy Tongue

When I was a kid my parents had a copy of The Physicians Desk Reference. This is a book that looks like a large encyclopedia or dictionary until you open it up. Most of the book is comprised of information on a variety of health conditions and diseases. It includes summaries, diagrams, and flow charts for diagnosing illness, but the best parts of this book are the pictures. As little kids we would flip through the pages and it was almost like playing Russian Roulette because you never knew when you'd turn the page and see a disgusting picture. There were plenty of nasty pictures throughout the book, but one that stood out and became our favorite was an ailment known as "black hairy tongue".

Black hairy tongue is a real condition (lingua villosa nigra) where the papillae of the tongue turn black and a hair of fur like appearance is created due to the growth of bacteria, yeast, or fungus. I was going to include a collage of images, but I thought I'd spare you. If you are hungry for more just google it and you can see all the images you want. It is a harmless condition (unless you are asking someone out on a date) and some of the things that can cause it are: poor oral hygiene, drinking excessive coffee or tea, chemotherapy, medications that contain bismuth like Pepto Bismol, and tobacco use. Of course the biggest cause is from not regularly reading my blog. As of today there have been no cases of black hairy tongue reported by any of my followers. Science would support that this is an obvious cause and effect scenario and it appears that I have the antidote to this malady.

The Physicians Desk Reference can be a very helpful and informative book, but it is dangerous if you are weak minded and susceptible to suggestion. I can't tell you how many times I thought I had the symptoms for scarlet fever, rabies, heart murmur, and leukemia by just reading through the symptom checker. Maybe I'm just weak minded like the poor storm trooper who was told "these are not the droids you are looking for" by Obi Wan. Anyway I have tried to stay away from the book because the last thing I need is to turn into a hypochondriac.

That being said, I'm not even sure how I ended up with this book after all these years. I think my parents got a newer version and gave me their old one. Today I see my kids huddle around this book and turn the pages and pull faces in disgust. It's now a third generation family tradition and some day this timeless treasure will be passed on to one of their families. I'm sure my kids are already scheming about who will inherit it after I'm gone. Sorry to be short but I have to go brush my teeth.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow! I have noticed that when ever I used bepto bismol my tongue would be dark colored the next day-nothing like your picture, but still... Yikes.

Kristina P. said...

And I thought the pictures I posted were disturbing!

Although, I really do like Chows, and they have black tongues, so maybe it's not a horrible thing?

Kelly said...

Oh Chaka, now you are venturing into a topic of which I am an expert. I have not seen too many cases of black hairy tongue in my dental chair, but I have seen plenty of benign migratory glossitis (look that one up). Imagine my surprise to find myself developing 'geographic tongue' during the past few months. Black hairy tongue is way grosser though. Maybe I should blog about real estate next...

Maui said...

Tongue turns black - check
a hair of fur like appearance - Check
growth of bacteria, yeast, or fungus - Check

Regularly read Chaka's World - Check


Hmmm I must have something else.

Bee and Rose said...

Dude, your Jedi mind trick just totally worked on me. I will read your blog every day because I do not want Black Hairy Tongue!!!

Chaka said...

Maui-You kill me! That's the best laugh I've had in days.

Dr Zibbs said...

Does it cover "bearded Lady-ism"?

Emily said...

Sick. Sick. Sick.
Good thing I am a regular reader on your blog.
Sick.

Big D said...

what is it about human nature that has to look at the gross nasty stuff?

"Hey, you gotta come see what I just did in the toilet-"

That's a real quote I have heard on more than one occasion. Sad to say that I may have actually obliged. It's just that after a brief description (no pun intended) that includes the words florescent and shaped like a _______, curiosity is always your downfall.

Chaka said...

Big D- I have also been guilty of falling for the "Oh smell how nasty this is" invitation many times. You think we would know better by now.

Pearl said...

When I was in school to become a court reporter, my son used to pore through my medical books, looking at the pictures of eye infections, thrush, herniated umbilical cords.
Ack!
Pearl

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Black hairy tongue?? Ewww...
Funny, how generations of your family will enjoy hypochondrism due to this family hierloom.