Why is my tongue swollen?


The tongue is one of the most important organs in the body, as it is necessary to perform various functions, such as helping to eat food and speaking. For this reason, it is normal for you to worry when you observe any change or alteration in it, such as feeling a swollen tongue. When the tongue can be seen swollen, it is said that there is glossitis.

Why is my tongue swollen

Why do I have a swollen tongue – causes

As you probably know, on the surface of the tongue there are bumps known as taste buds, which sometimes disappear from view as a result of glossitis, the inflammation of the tongue. The tongue itself or the inflamed papillae cause the eating process and the way of speaking to be affected, even interrupting your daily routine. Glossitis usually occurs as a result of a secondary condition in another part of the body, such as another part of the mouth or throat. Normally, the causes of a swollen tongue are the following:

  • infections.
  • allergies.
  • injury or irritation.
  • Vitamin B12 and B3 deficiency.
  • Dry mouth and inflammation of the tongue due to Sjögren's syndrome.
  • Some unbalanced hormonal factors.

In the following sections we will see the most common causes of glossitis in more detail and the possible treatments and remedies for a swollen tongue.

Why do I have a swollen tongue: oral infections

Viruses, bacteria and fungi can cause inflammation of the tongue . Infections such as Streptococcus infection are caused by bacteria that mainly attack the throat and pharynx and, when inflammation and infection occur in the throat, it affects the entire mouth, even causing the tongue to swell. Oral herpes viruses are also capable of producing a swollen tongue, due to direct affection of the oral area. In addition, among the most common fungi that can cause a swollen tongue, is oral candidacies . 

If you have a wound on your tongue, such as from a bite or piercing, make sure it doesn't get infected, otherwise it will also cause glossaries, among other problems.

Inflammation of the tongue due to allergy

It may also be that you appreciate your swollen tongue due to a food allergy , a medication or anything to which you are hypersensitive or allergic. There are usually cases where a glossitis appears as a result of an allergy to certain medications, especially NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and ACE inhibitors.

In addition to allergies to these medications, your tongue may be swollen due to a food allergy or an irritating substance: foods that have allergens, insect bites, pollen… If you are hypersensitive to any factor that can trigger a crisis of allergy in your body surely your tongue swells for this reason, although in these cases it is more common to have a swollen throat and/or lips than the tongue or all of this at the same time.

In these links you will be able to know the most common food allergies in adults and what are the symptoms of food allergies .

Why do I have a swollen tongue: lesions or irritations

If you have any cut, bruise, irritation or burn on or near your tongue, you will surely feel it swell. Drinks that are too hot, tobacco and dental appliances increase the risk of your tongue becoming irritated and consequently swollen.

Also, as we have mentioned before, a piercing or a bite are the most frequent injuries to the tongue. So, if you've recently bitten yourself or gotten a piercing, it's likely that your swollen tongue is due to that. In the case of a bite, it is easy to have the tongue swollen on the sides or at the tip, which are the most common areas in which we unintentionally bite.

If in your case the swollen tongue is due to a piercing, we recommend you read these other posts on How to reduce the swelling of the tongue due to a piercing and How to care for a tongue piercing.

Vitamin B12 and B3 deficiency

A very common vitamin deficiency is a lack of vitamin B12 and B3 . Faced with this important deficiency, you will be able to appreciate your swollen, red and smooth tongue . This happens because the lack of these vitamins causes the epithelial cells of the mouth to begin to divide excessively, causing your tongue to look like that. Faced with this problem, you will not only notice changes in your mouth, such as a swollen tongue, but you will also feel dejected, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, gas, loss of appetite, etc.

We recommend reading this other article about the Symptoms of a lack of vitamin B12 .

Treatment and prevention for swollen tongue

Now that you know the answers to your question about “why is my tongue swollen?”, we are going to talk about the treatment to reduce the swelling of the tongue, which is based on some medications, in addition to taking more hygiene measures, among other aspects. Here we show you some treatments and remedies for a swollen tongue.

  • The doctor usually prescribes steroids or antibiotics to calm the symptoms and treat or prevent an infection, but the final treatment comes based on the cause that is producing this.
  • In the event of an infection, the doctor may prescribe some type of antibiotic. Unless it's caused by a virus, then it will go away over time, and your doctor may prescribe medication just for the symptoms.
  • You can also inject epinephrine to reduce swelling, if it is a case of severe inflammation and it is difficult for you to breathe.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and cleaning your tongue at the same time, to prevent the appearance of infections. In this other article you can learn How to clean the tongue .
  • If you are deficient in the vitamins mentioned above, your doctor will surely tell you to take vitamin supplements to cover this deficiency.
  • Eliminate or reduce the intake of alcohol, the consumption of tobacco and very hot drinks and foods.
  • Your doctor will prescribe an antihistamine for tongue swelling due to allergy.
  • Apply cold on the tongue, this will reduce inflammation and discomfort. Have cold drinks or suck on ice for a while to benefit from the anti-inflammatory capacity of cold.

If you notice your swollen tongue, do not hesitate to see a doctor, especially if you have drooling, breathing or swallowing difficulties and fever, in order to rule out serious problems, and if there are, start treating them as soon as possible, and thus prevent the problem go to more


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