Swollen tongue can be a painful condition which can be caused by a variety of medical issues and disorders. The normal causes of a tongue swelling include infections, allergies, injuries, metabolic disorders, genetic problems or any other abnormal issue. These issues normally cause either a certain part of the tongue or the whole tongue to get enlarged. Normally, a swollen tongue isn’t a severe issue. However, a swollen tongue can be indicative of a more serious condition. Thus, it’s best to contact your doctor if you see swelling over your tongue.
Part 1: What Are the Possible Causes of Swollen Tongue?
The most common causes
Eating very hot food or drinking very hot beverages
Heavy alcohol usage
In-take of spicy food items
Accidentally biting your own tongue
Use of braces
Tongue piercing which can end up causing an infection that would cause the tongue to swell
These infections include:
Fungal infections like thrush
They are actually the most commonly known cause of a swollen tongue. Allergies that can result in tongue swelling include:
A bite from an insect or a sting from a bee
An allergic reaction to a medicine or drug like penicillin/codeine
Allergic reaction to certain food items or ingredients present within food items
Anaphylactic reaction (an allergic reaction which often is serious and severe)
Other causes of swollen tongue
Acromegaly which is the name of a hormonal disorder. The condition makes the body produce excessive growth hormone which results in the body tissues getting enlarged.
Genetic disorders like the Down syndrome
Hypothyroidism (a thyroid that is not as active as it should be)
Pituitary gland problem
Tongue cancer (over 10,000 cases of tongue cancer are reported annually in the US and they can be treated successfully if diagnosed early)
Pernicious anemia which is the name of a condition which causes the red blood cell levels to drop as the body fails to absorb Vitamin B12
Angioedema which causes a drastic increase in swelling of the mucosal tissue and the submucosal tissue. The condition is considered very severe and is normally hereditary. Angioedema can also be caused as a reaction to or a side-effect of hypertensive medicines.
Swelling and inflammation of the taste buds is caused by lingual papilitis. It also causes the taste buds to turn red. The condition ends up causing the tongue to swell, especially during the night time.
Part 2: Symptoms Associated with Swollen Tongue
The symptoms of the condition normally depend on the cause. The cause dictates the kind of symptoms that the patient with experience along with the swollen tongue. The most widely known symptoms of tongue swelling, irrespective of the cause responsible for it, include:
Problems while talking, drinking water or any other beverages, chewing or swallowing food
Mouth soreness or pain in the tongue
A burning sensation in the mouth or tongue
A difference in the tongue’s texture like it starts to feel smoother (departure from the normal tongue texture).
A difference in the tongue’s color (turning dark)
Bleeding from the tongue
If the tongue swelling is caused by an allergic reaction, the symptoms would include:
If the swollen tongue is indicative of a life-threatening disease or problem, the symptoms would include:
Blood with the cough
Problems in swallowing anything
Tightness in the throat
Irritation in the throat and mouth
Part 3: How to Treat Swollen Tongue
If the cause of the tongue swelling is any food-borne allergy then the patient must stop the use of all such food items. Epinephrine helps a lot in cases of allergies and thus, anyone who has suffered from a swollen tongue before should keep an epinephrine injection with them at all times so as to get relief if their tongue starts to swell at any given point.
For reaction from drugs
If the cause of the swelling is any drug that you take regularly then the patient must stop the use of the drug and ask the doctor for an alternative drug. In case the swelling is caused because of an infection then antibiotics would normally work and put an end to the infection causing the swelling.
Home remedies can also prove helpful in keeping the pain down. The use of a soft toothbrush to brush the tongue is a home remedy that can bring pain relief. Putting some sugar over the swollen tongue can also bring pain relief.
However, it’s best to immediately visit a hospital when you tongue starts to swell while it’s also recommended to contact your doctor even if the swelling goes away with treatment so as to know what caused the swelling in the first place.
Watch this video to learn what an acutely-swollen tongue can indicate. Your tongue can reveal about vitamin deficiencies and canker sores and more: