According to a new report on the disease, yellow tongue is a sign of a rare and serious disease for a 12-year-old boy. And according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday (July 24), the boy was hospitalized with a sore throat, dark urine, abdominal pain, and pale skin for several days.
Doctors of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto found that the boy had jaundice, and his skin and whites of eyes tended to turn yellow and the urine to turn dark. The boy actually has yellow eyes. His tongue is also bright yellow, and according to the Mayo Clinic, this may be a sign of jaundice in rare cases.
(According to Healthline, some common things can cause yellowing of the tongue, including dry mouth, certain medications, and poor oral hygiene.)
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), jaundice occurs when a yellow chemical called bilirubin accumulates in the body. Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. But what causes jaundice in the boy? Through a series of tests, the doctors discovered that a series of rare events caused his tongue to turn yellow.
The boy has anaemia or a low red blood cell count. He was also infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a common virus that usually infects people during childhood and causes almost no symptoms. Epstein-Barr virus infection is also associated with many autoimmune diseases. Blood tests have identified specific antibodies that may cause red blood cells to break down too quickly.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the boy was diagnosed with cold agglutinin disease, a rare autoimmune disease in which the patient’s immune system attacks and destroys their red blood cells. This autoimmune attack is caused by exposure to low temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius, so symptoms will worsen in winter.
This condition can lead to anaemia and jaundice after decomposition; the rapid release of red blood cells leads to the accumulation of bilirubin. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, in some cases, cold agglutinin disease may be caused by certain infections, including Epstein-Barr virus infection. In this case, the doctor suspected that Epstein-Barr infection caused the boy’s cold agglutinin disease.
The boy needs a blood transfusion and oral steroid therapy for seven weeks to reduce the activity of the immune system. After the boy was discharged from the hospital, he “recovered” and his tongue colour gradually returned to normal, while his bilirubin level declined, the author said.