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Teen's tongue piercing causes suicide disease

Severely painful nerve disorder the latest on list of complications



Updated: 4:57 p.m. MT Oct 17, 2006

CHICAGO - The teenager said the stabbing pains in her face felt like electrical shocks that lasted 10 to 30 seconds and struck 20 to 30 times a day.

Her doctors diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder sometimes called suicide disease because of the excruciating and dispiriting pain it causes.

Doctors tried painkillers, then stronger medication, but in the end, a cure proved more simple: The young woman removed the metal stud from her pierced tongue

Two days later her pain vanished.

The account in Wednesdays Journal of the American Medical Association is the latest documentation of complications, some life-threatening, linked to tongue piercing.

Other problems include tetanus, heart infections, brain abscess, chipped teeth and receding gums. One woman developed so much scar tissue that it resembled what she called a second tongue.

In the newly reported case, the young Italian womans mouth jewelry apparently irritated a nerve running along the jaw under her tongue. That nerve is connected to the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest in the head.

There are people who have been dropped to their knees by trigeminal neuralgia, said Alana Greca, a registered nurse and director of patient support for the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association. Thats how intense and how horrendous the pain can be.

The teenager is lucky her pain disappeared, Greca said. The tongue is a particularly dangerous place to pierce because it is rich in blood vessels that can spread infection to major organs and because it is near important nerves and the upper airway, he said.
 

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Haven't had any problems with mine, fortunately. I did switch from a piercer with metal balls to one with plastic ones. Not only does it not hurt if I accidently bite it when chewing but I can also switch it out for different colors to match my mood, outfit, whatever. I love my tongue ring!
 

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I had a tongue piercing for six years. It wasn't particularly painful (and this is from someone who faints at the sight of needles), and I didn't have any complications other than a swollen tongue for the first couple of days, which is normal. I took it out because I was bored from it. It's important to go to a reputable piercer.
 

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I have always been afraid to pierce any area that could result in important nerve damage. If I had a tongue piercing, I'd look into getting something "dental" safe. Your teeth are very important to good health. And dental/mouth infections are nothing to be toyed with. They can spread to the brain if left untreated.

I might consider a belly button piercing, but more than that, I'd like to have the kind of belly that belly piercing was made for!

I feel if people actually understand the possible problems, they should do what they want. But a lot of this piercing stuff comes across to me as posturing-- a signal to others that they belong to a certain subculture. It just reminds me of when I was 14 and wore a lot of black and drew weird shapes in eyeliner on my face. It was for what other people thought. It all seems meaningless to me now. I guess for younger people, if it gets you respect from your group maybe it's worth it. Just like I have to wear "slacks" to work to get respect from my peers now. If I could get the same respect wearing pajamas 24/7 I probably would.
 

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Thalia: i agree that most of the time, that's what it is.

For me, though, nobody sees my piercings/tattoos unless I show them. I have nothing on my face (except my ears, if those count) and I clean up pretty well.
 

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I used to have my tongue pierced. I never had problems with it. I did a lot of research before getting it done and made sure I went to a well known professional. If you go to a reputable professional and do your research you shouldn't have any problems.
 

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I actually had my tongue done at a crap shop by someone who didn't give me listerine before or anything, with some other dude in the back of the shop who said "Why anyone would want a shaft and two balls in their mouth is beyond me."
Anyway, I never had a problem. And that place shut down shortly thereafter. Guess I was lucky. Once I started getting into tats and piercings, I was much more educated and picked much better places.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by geronimango View Post

Haven't had any problems with mine, fortunately. I did switch from a piercer with metal balls to one with plastic ones. Not only does it not hurt if I accidently bite it when chewing but I can also switch it out for different colors to match my mood, outfit, whatever. I love my tongue ring!
you can get coloured titanium balls! I gots green on the top purple on the bottom + also bought a shorter barbell so i dont bite it =D. the plastic ones feel funny in my mouth =S

but aside from that stilll alive!!
 
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i never had an issue with my tongue peircing either. my dentist always whined that it'd wreck my tooth enamel within 6 months of getting it done, and 6 years later, it still hadnt made a scratch in it. I took it out a year or two ago (got bored of it) but i enjoyed it while i had it.

with regard to risks- anyone having any proceedure takes personal responsibility for educating themselves on the risks, and level of training/hygeine of the person perfoming the proceedure. generally, yeah, its gonna swell a bit when someone jams a foreign body into your tongue (or anywhere) but in the vast majority of people your body gets over it.

The only person with a tongue peircing related injury that i know of personally, is someone who fell down the stairs drunk and smashed out his front teeth with his tongue bar- but the bar in his jewelerry was too long in the first place, he'd been told that, and if you wanna get drunk, then you take the risk of hurting yourself, falling down the stairs could have resulted in him biting his tongue off instead if it hadn't of been peirced... stuff happens, you know?

There is a sexual aspect to tongue peircing, as well as the jewellery aspect. This might be a reason why some people have it done, as well as having a cool looking tongue.

Risks are also apparent with ear peircing, not limited to possible blood poisoning, ripping of the lobes, blood borne diseases etc. A friend of mine has perminantly seriously deformed earlobes now, as a result of scarring caused by her bodys rejection of her 'normal' ear peircing, which isn't surgically reparable (bigger scars grow back on scar tissue removal) Nobody seems to get in a panic about this kind of risk though, do they? All over the world parents take their teeny babies and subject them to a peircing gun in their ears, and no-one seems to so much as raise an eyebrow, but low and behold... tongue peircing=deviant behaviour with horrible risks. hmmm.

Or how about the risks of having your nails done in an unhygenic studio? Of having your legs waxed by a poorly trained employee? Risks abound left right and centre.
 

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I want to hear the risks and pain of people who went for rides in the car that went wrong. And people who were walking down the road and something went wrong. Or people who were swimming and something went wrong. Or who were breathing and something went wrong. Or eating.

This is a rarity. It is not the norm. All it does is scare those who were ignorant to begin with.
 

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..and I was telling the truth. Had mine for 8 years no problems, and none of my other body parts have fallen off from being pierced. I have other parts that i'd worry about more than my tongue.
 
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