CNN (9/5, Nedelman) discusses a condition known as black hairy tongue, stating that “despite the name, black hairy tongue isn’t hair at all.” CNN says that it actually “refers to tiny nubbins on the tongue, called papillae, that have grown longer” and are “thought to trap microscopic food particles, giving bacteria and other microbes a chance to thrive on the tongue – causing a strange discoloration.” The bumps, which are “normally less than a millimeter long,” sometimes can “reach between 12 and 18 millimeters, according to a review last year.” CNN adds, “Black hairy tongue is an uncommon and harmless side effect of some drugs, but it can also be linked to smoking, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions.”

Health (9/6, Klein) reports that in a case published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a “woman’s tongue changed color one week after starting two antibiotics.” According to the case report, the woman said she began to feel nauseated and experienced a bad taste in her mouth. The woman was diagnosed with black hairy tongue, which not only causes “dark discoloration and furry appearance,” but may also “cause bad breath, a metallic taste, or odd sensations.” According to the article, “Black hairy tongue doesn’t typically require any medical treatment” as “the condition usually goes away when the offending medication, coffee, mouthwash, or alcohol use is stopped, as it did for the patient in the NEJM case.”