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Hunter's glossitis (William Hunter)

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Atrophic glossitis is one of the clinical features of primary macrocytic anaemia. Hunter's glossitis is caused by B12 or folic acid deficiency. It is characterized by glossitis, glossodynia, glossopyrosis, and altered sense of taste, which may undergo spontaneous remission but invariably reappears. The pain and burning sensation are usually confined to the tongue, but may also extend to other parts of the oral mucosa. Ultimately, atrophy of the intrinsic musculature causes a decrease int the size of the tongue, the tongue assumes a beefy red colour and a smooth, clean, shining appearance. Similar atrophic changes are found in the gastric mucosa, accompanied by achlorhydria or achylia gastrica. Usually seen in women.

See also Möller’s glossitis, under Julius Otto Ludwig Möller, German surgeon, 1819-1887.


  • Möller:
    Klinische Bemerkungen über einige weniger bekannte Krankheiten der Zunge.
    Deutsche Klinik, Berlin, 1851, 3: 273-275.
  • W. Hunter:
    Further observations on pernicious anaemia (seven cases): A chronic infective disease; its relation to infection from the mouth and stomach; suggested serum treatment.
    Lancet, London, 1900, 1: 221-224.

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