Do you have a swollen tongue? What might be the causes of this tongue condition? This article explores more on the causes tongue swelling on the sides, underneath or the whole surface. You will also learn the various treatments and remedies of a swollen tongue.
Sudden Tongue Swelling causes or What Causes Tongue Swelling
The whole or part of your tongue can become swollen all over a sudden. This can be a painful condition as it can be accompanied by other discomforts like a burning sensation or inflammations.
Even though tongue may not be a severe condition, it is advisable to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine the exact cause. Some of the causes can be life threatening if left untreated. According to our research here are some of the possible causes of this condition:
- Eating a very hot food and drinks
Taking very hot foods and drinks can result to a swollen or inflamed tongue. It can also affect the taste buds that are located on the affected areas. This can also affect other parts of your mouth including inside the cheeks, lips and the roof of the mouth
Tongue inflammation and swelling depends on the degree of burning. This condition can also be accompanied with other problems like chewing, swallowing or speaking difficulties. The tongue may also change the color from normal to pale or red.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco smoking
Are you taking excessive alcohol and smoking tobacco? If yes, then you are likely to suffer from sudden tongue swelling on side and tip. Alcohol and tobacco causes irritation of the taste buds that causes the tongue to appear swollen.
It also causes infection of the taste receptors and hence leading to a swollen tongue and other symptom like bad breath. To reduce the inflammation, you should quit smoking and alcohol consumption and focus on reducing the pain and treating the infections.
- Spicy, salty and acidic foods
This is also another cause of a swollen, inflamed and irritated tongue. This kind of foods causes the taste receptors to become swollen and inflamed. They also triggers itchiness of the tongue. This creates an urge to run your tongue against your teeth. However try to resist the urge as it may worsen your condition.
- Tongue piercing
There are various types or tongue piercing like horizontal tongue piercing, vertical tongue piercing and venom or snake bite tongue piercing that can causes the tongue to swell during the initial healing process. It can also be accompanied with other normal symptoms like pain, inflammation, redness or a burning sensation.
- Tongue injuries or trauma
Biting your tongue accidentally when chewing food, using too rough tongue scrappers or brushes and oral surgeries can cause inflammation or irritation of the taste buds that can result to a part of the tongue or the whole surface to become swollen.
- Acid reflux condition
Regurgitation of gastric acid from the stomach to the mouth due to acid reflux condition can lead to a swollen tongue. The regurgitated acid may cause irritation to the taste receptors and hence, leading to swollen or inflamed tongue
- Allergic reactions
Allergic reactions are the common causes of sudden tongue swelling. Reaction of your body to various allergens can result to a swollen tongue, inflammations and skin rash among other problems. Allergies can result from various things including:
Allergens in medicines may result to swollen taste buds as a result of the reaction between your body immune system and the drugs. There are many drugs that have such adverse effects like penicillin. To be sure, check the label and read manufacturer’s instructions before taking the drugs.
Allergens in food can also causes an allergic reaction with your body. They may cause irritation of the taste receptors and hence resulting a swollen tongue. Some allergens can cause anaphylactic shock that requires an emergency treatment.
The common foods that causes most allergies includes cow’s milk, fish, eggs, soy, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish. If your body is prone to allergies, it is advisable to avoid such foods.
Allergens from insect stings and animal bites can also cause an allergic reaction. Snake bites contains venom that requires an emergency treatment. Bites and stings from other animals and insects can cause an allergic reaction that result to various symptoms like tongue swelling, nausea, paralysis, difficulties in breathing and pain.
Infections that occurs inside the mouth can lead to a swollen tongue. There are various mouth infections that results from bacteria, fungi, virus and other pathogenic micro-organisms. They includes:
This is an infection of the mouth that is caused by fungus candida. This are the same fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections. It causes swollen and inflamed tongue. It is also characterized by white spots on tongue on the areas that are affected.
There are various factors that increases the risk of getting this infection including poor oral hygiene, weak immune system, recent intake of antibiotics and having other body conditions like diabetes or HIV. Visit your doctor when you suspect having this infection.
The doctor will give you some antifungal medicines to use for a couple of weeks. If left untreated, it can lead to persistence tongue swelling and other symptoms.
Herpes simplex virus
Herpes virus is also another cause for of a swollen tongue. This infection causes small lesions or ulcers to develop on different parts of the mouth and tongue. They are often extremely painful red sores that has a white layer at the top.
This infection normally recovers on its own after several days. Although there is no treatment for viral infections, its symptoms can be relieved by taking anti-viral medicines like acyclovir.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that you can get by having sex with an infected person. It causes small painless sore on the tongue that disappears on their own in its initial stages. The sores will also reappear during the second stage. When left untreated, it can lead to syphilitic leukoplakia on the tongue.
- Depression and stress
High levels of stress or depression can also lead to swollen taste buds. People who have a stress for a longer time are likely to suffer from a swollen tongue. Stress lowers your body immune system as well as causing some alteration of hormones in the body. Therefore your body is vulnerable to infections that causes tongue swelling.
- Tongue cancer
Tongue cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that affects the tongue. It usually starts as a bump or red spots that develops on one part of the tongue. When not treated early, it spreads to the surrounding areas to cause swelling.
Swelling on the tongue that are associated with cancer are persistent. They may be painless while others can cause some pain. It is also characterized with other symptoms like numbness of part of the tongue, bleeding and sore throat.
- Deficiency of some nutrients
Inadequate intake of vitamin B complex, C or folate increases the chances of having a swollen tongue. Some conditions like pernicious anemia causes red blood cells to decrease as the body fails to absorb the vitamins.
- Other causes of swollen tongue include:
- Down syndrome condition, a genetic disorder
- Pituitary glands problem
- Body hormonal imbalances
- Angioedema, a condition that causes rapid swelling of mucosal tissues
- Strep infections
It is important to visit your doctor right away when a swollen tongue is accompanied with other symptoms like difficulties in chewing, swallowing, breathing or speaking. You should also be diagnosed to determine the causes of persistence swellings or lumps on the tongue.
Tongue Swelling One Side
At times, you tongue can swell on the sides, at the tip, back or the whole surface. Different causes that we have discussed above can cause this tongue condition. However, treatment of swollen tongue on sides depend on the cause of the condition.
Use the various remedies of a swollen tongue to ease the pain, swelling and other discomfort. Don’t fail to visit your doctor when the symptoms becomes persistence even after trying some of the home remedy treatment. This tongue condition can be caused by life-threatening diseases like cancer that requires medical treatments.
Tongue Swelling and Pain
A swollen tongue can be accompanied with other symptoms depending with the underlying cause of your condition. Apart from pain there are various symptoms that are characterized by swollen tongue. Irrespective of the cause there are commons symptoms you will experience. They include:
- Mouth soreness and painful tongue
- Tongue bumps or lesions
- Difficulties in speaking swallowing, chewing food or speaking
- Inflammation or a burning sensation of the tongue and other parts of the mouth
- Fluctuation of the body temperature that causes fever or chills
- Bleeding from the tongue
Swollen tongue as a result of allergic reaction is also accompanied with some symptoms. Few minutes or hours after encountering an allergen in food, drugs and insect stings and animal bites you may develop:
- Skin rash
- Abdominal pains
- Bleeding from the bitten area.
When your tongue condition is as a result of underlying life-threatening diseases, you will experience symptoms like sore and tightness in the throat, severe skin rashes, and nausea, difficulties in breathing and swallowing, blood in the cough, mouth irritations and development of other body condition. Visit your health care provider right away if you are experiencing the above symptoms.
Tongue Swelling Underneath
The tongue can also swell underneath as a result of various causes. Infections are the common causes of salivary glands problems that are located under the tongue and above the jaws.
Salivary glands are responsible for production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva helps in protecting the teeth against bacterial infections, lubricating the mouth linings, helps in swallowing food and aids in digestion.
There are three main types of salivary glands that are located in your mouth. Parotid glands are found on the inner surface of the cheeks, submandibular glands that are located on the floor of mouth on each side of the jaw bone and sublingual glands that are under the tongue. Other hundreds of minor gland are also located in different parts of your mouth.
When this glands are infected, you are likely to experience various symptoms like swelling of the salivary glands, pain, high body temperatures, dry mouth, and yellow of green discharge draining from under tongue, pain in mouth, difficulties in chewing and swallowing food, chill and bad breath.
Salivary glands infections are majorly caused by different types of bacteria like staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus viridans, haemophilus influenzae, streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli. Fungi and virus can also cause some of the infections.
Tongue Swelling Anxiety
Does anxiety causes your tongue to swell? This is the common question that many people ask themselves. There are various symptoms of anxiety that includes: trebling, increased heart beats and uncontrolled sweating. This symptoms can cause some inconveniences and even some health risks.
A swollen tongue is one of the symptom that many people have debated on. This is unusual symptom that you are likely to experience when frightened or having anxiety. Swollen tongue can cause a worry as there are many serious condition that can cause a sore tongue.
But our main question is that, why would anxiety cause a swollen tongue? The truth is that anxiety does not cause a swollen tongue directly. It only causes a feeling of having a swollen tongue. It causes a feeling of having uncomfortable tongue that is increasing in size.
This feeling comes out when you are hyper-sensitive to panic disorder. If you are prone to panic attack, you are likely to experience this feeling. It is created when your mind is focused to something too strongly, for this case, your mind will be focused on your tongue.
When having anxiety, your mind focused of one thing and you may have a feeling that something is wrong when in real sense, there is nothing wrong. For instance when you focus on the way you are breathing, you will feel like you are running short of breath when not.
However, the only way to stop feeling like your tongue is swollen is to focus on something else. This will help to distract your feeling. It will help your brain to go back to subconscious from being conscious.
Tongue Swelling Thyroid
Tongue is a very important muscle that helps in speaking, chewing and swallowing food. It also contains taste receptors that helps in tasting different elements in food i.e. sweet, salty and sour. In its healthy condition, it is supposed to be slightly pink in color, moist and smooth.
However, various underlying health conditions like thyroid or hypothyroidism can cause various symptomatic conditions on your tongue like swellings, pain, dryness, discoloration or bumps. Thyroid causes a tongue condition known as scalloping.
Scalloping is when your tongue becomes swollen or too big for your mouth. It becomes big leaving teeth marks on the sides. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate diagnosis and treatment. Most of the people have thyroid hormone deficiency that leads to hypothyroidism.
To understand better, let us know more about thyroid. Thyroid is a small gland that is found on the lower part of your neck. It is responsible for the production of thyroid hormone that helps in metabolic activities of the cells, cell differentiation and cell development.
When hypothyroidism is not treated it can lead other conditions that can be life threatening. A part from swollen tongue, there are other various symptoms you are likely to develop when having thyroid condition. They include: headaches, fatigue, brain fog, allergies, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, memory loss, weight loss, cold feed and hands, heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol level, high or low blood pressure and heart palpitations.
Tongue Swelling Treatment
Before treating any swelling or inflammation on your tongue, it is important to find out and eradicate the cause of your condition and later deal with the swelling. There are various treatment and remedies you can use to treat the underlying cause as well as the swelling. They include:
- Practice proper oral hygiene
This includes brushing your teeth 2-3 times daily, flossing regularly and scraping the tongue using a tongue scrapper or a soft brush. It helps to kill the bacteria as well as removing the dirty that harbors bacteria and other microorganisms that causes tongue infection.
- Visit your doctor for treatment
It is recommended to start by treating the underlying conditions that causes swelling and inflammation of the tongue. Make an appointment with your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. He or she will prescribe some antifungals, antibacterial and antiviral medicines to treat the infections that causes swelling.
- Take prescribed supplements
Get tested to determine if your condition is caused by deficiencies of some nutrients or minerals. You may be given prescribed vitamins and iron supplements to take for a couple of weeks until your tongue resumes to its normal size.
- Adjust to a healthy lifestyle
This involves making some changes on your lifestyle habits that causes infections and inflammation to the tongue. It is necessary to avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco. Tongue swellings will subside once you quit these habits.
- Avoid taking too hot and spicy foods and drinks
Very hot, spicy, salty and acidic foods and drinks are the major causes of enlarged tongue. Allow to food or drink to have a moderate heat before taking. Limit the amount of spices and salt that you use when preparing your meals.
- Avoid some of the causes of allergic reaction
Take care about the diet that you take. Avoid foods that causes allergic reactions like eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish. Read and understand some of the side effects on drugs before taking. You should also seek medical treatment when bitten or stung by some animals and insects.
- Apply some ice chips
Reduce the swelling by placing some ice chips on the tongue. Don’t allow the ice chips or cubes to overstay on your tongue as it can cause burning. Alternatively, you can take ice cold drinks and soft foods that soothes the tongue.
- Gargle with a saline solution
Prepare some saline solution by mixing ¼ tablespoon of sea salt with a glass of warm water. Gargle the solution in your mouth 2-3 times a day. It helps to reduce swelling as well as killing different bacteria and germs that causes infections.
- Take enough water
Dehydration can lead to swollen tongue and dry mouth. It is therefore important to take enough water daily. Ensure that you take for at least 8 or more glasses of water. Drink small amount at a regular interval throughout the day.
- Gargle with tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is among the effective tongue swelling treatment. It contains anti-bacterial and antifungal properties that helps fighting the bacteria and fungus that causes mouth infections that leads to a swollen tongue. This natural oil also helps to alleviate the swelling.
To use this remedy, you simply place few drops of tea tree oil in a glass of warm water. Gargle the solution into your mouth and spit it out. Be careful not to swallow. Use this treatment 2-3 times a day until the swelling subsides.
- Try baking soda
Baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties that helps to alleviate inflammation of a swollen tongue. To alleviate the swelling, place small amount of this ingredient and leave it for some time before gargling water into the mouth.
This treatment also helps to get rid of gastric juice from the mouth that results from regurgitation due to acid reflux condition. Apply this remedy 2-3 times a day until your condition improves.
- Apply some honey
Honey was use from traditionally in treating swollen taste receptors and other conditions. It has anti-bacterial properties that helps in killing the bacteria that causes infections. Swash some honey into your mouth to alleviate the swelling. Alternatively, boil the honey to get warm and gargle into the mouth 2-3 times a day.
- Use a mixture of pepper, ginger and garlic
A combination of this three ingredients forms an effective treatment for swollen taste buds. It also helps in treating various bacterial infections that causes tongue problems.
More sources and references:
- What causes tongue swelling?
- Swollen tongue:
- Swollen tongue:
- Swollen taste buds on tip of tongue:
- Tongue problems:
- Oral care:
- Swollen tongue, a strange anxiety symptoms:
- Sore or painful tongue:
- Inflamed taste bud:
- Salivary glands problem: />