Tongue, in the animal economy, is an organized muscle situated in the cavity of the mouth, moveable in every direction, and destined for the purposes of speech, mastication, deglutition, and suction. On the upper part, it is furnished with many small nervous warts, regulating the sense of taste : the whole is covered by the muciparous membrane lining the inside of the mouth; and which, by a duplicature at the lower part, forms the ligament called the fre-num. - If this ligament be too short (which may be ascertained by the incapacity of the infant to protrude its tongue to the gums, and between the lips ; or of sucking either the breast, or a finger introduced into its mouth) an incision should be made, by a person properly qualified; and the infant, immediately after, be placed to the breast; in order to prevent its swallowing the blood. A similar operation will be requisite, as the only mean of preservation, where a fleshy tumor occurs under the tip of the tongue.
Another affection is the Ranu/a, or swelling beneath, and at the side of, the tongue ; which generally arises from an obstructed salivary gland : in some instances, it contains a gritty substance, but more frequently a fetid fluid, in consequence of which, the mouth becomes inflamed. Where it proceeds from tainted milk, the nurse ought to be instantly changed, and. the mouth be washed with a decoction of sage sweetened with honey; but, if the tumor be hard, it will be advisable to extirpate it by the knife : after the operation, the mouth should be frequently rinsed with milk and water : - to promote the healing of the wound, gentle astringents, such as diluted tincture of bark or myrrh, will be useful, when given with due precaution.
A more serious malady is Glossitis, or Inflammation of the Tongue, the following are its symptoms : - A partial or general tumor ; the sides and lower surface are red, and uncommonly painful to the touch. Progressively, the patient's speech, swallowing, and respiration, become affected; and, when the complaint is of a violent nature, the tongue is so tumefied that it fills up the cavity of the mouth : farther, if the inflammation should extend to the gullet, and thus impede respiration, a symptomatic sore-throat is often induced. An acute head-ach, and sometimes delirium occur, which may even prove fatal. More frequently, however, it terminates either by a resolution, or by a favourable suppuration ; though, in some instances, it is eventually followed by mortification, scirrhus, or cancer.
Cure: - While the patient is able to swallow, cooling aperients should be given; and, if the symptoms evince crudities in the stomach and intestines, either emetics or purgatives, according to the seat of such accumulated matter, will, in the first stage, prove highly efficacious. Blisters, and other vesicato-ries, applied to the feet and arms; or, in urgent cases, even to the neck, together with bathing the legs in tepid water, cannot fail to be useful, by diminishing the inflammation. Warm, emollient fomentations around the neck, may also be resorted to ; and if the mouth be charged with phlegm or mucus, the fauces ought to be rinsed with a decoction of chamomile or elder flowers, to which a small quantity of sal-ammoniac may be added: for the same purpose, a decoction of figs in milk, will occasionally prove of service. - Should venesection be indicated, it will be preferable to draw the blood by means of cupping-glasses; or, by applying leeches to the adjacent parts. - If a collection of pus, or an abscess be formed, the discharge must be promoted by an incision, as soon as the matter is sufficiently maturated. But, where the inflammation terminates in a Scir-Rhus, or Cancer, the reader will find the proper treatment stated under those respective heads.
Lameness of the tongue, may originate from various causes: thus, if it proceed from worms, or suppressed piles, in the former case, vermifuges, and in the latter, such remedies should be resorted to, as tend to restore that salutary evacuation, by the mildest aperients : when this affection arises from violent passions, catarrh, or is symptomatic of palsy, it will be useful to employ electricity, setons, and blistering cataplasms to the skin (see Sinapism), which have frequently been attended with success.
The palate, or sense of taste, may be depraved by organic affections, or atony of the parts; by incrustations, for instance, in the thrush; in consequence of warts on the tongue, from a vitiated saliva ; or the destruction of nerves proceeding to this organ; and lastly, from catarrhs, by which the head is generally affected.
If such complaint be occasioned by impurities, the tongue should be frequently scraped and washed with a mixture of spring water, vinegar, and honey. A corruption of the saliva being mostly connected with other disorders, it will also be removed by the remedies employed for the cure of the latter : we shall therefore only add, that when it arises from tainted humours (evinced by frequent, foul eructations), the repeated use of thin slices of lemons, or oranges, with a little sugar ; or, rinsing the mouth with a mixture of vinegar and lime-water, will often remedy such inconvenience.