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Why does my tongue look like a roadmap when I am sick?

Your tongue may assume the appearance of a roadmap when you have a condition known as "geographic tongue," which results from the over-activity of white blood cells. In a kind of immune system error, the cells produce smooth, red, irregularly shaped patches on the top or sides of your tongue. While this condition is generally harmless, in some cases these patches can cause pain or a burning sensation, especially when eating strongly flavored or spicy foods.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.