What is a swollen tongue?

A swollen tongue is an abnormal condition in which the entire tongue or a portion of it is enlarged, bloated or distended. Your tongue is made up of muscles and the upper surface is lined with taste buds. Your tongue helps you to talk, swallow, taste and chew.

Tongue/Mouth Problems Spotlight

A swollen tongue can result from infection, inflammation, allergy, genetic disorders, trauma, malignancy, metabolic diseases, and other abnormal processes. A chronically swollen tongue over a long period of time can be due to acromegaly, sarcoma, oral cancer, or Down syndrome.

If your tongue swells up rapidly, this could be a sign of an allergy or a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. An anaphylactic reaction is characterized by a swollen tongue (and swelling in general) combined with hives, itching, shortness of breath, and rapid breathing (more that about 16 breaths per minute for an adult). The reaction is sudden, severe, and can include respiratory distress. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these symptoms.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a swollen tongue?

If your tongue is swollen, you may also be experiencing other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include tongue pain, tongue lesion, difficulty chewing, and difficulty swallowing.

Allergy symptoms that may occur along with a swollen tongue

A swollen tongue may occur with other signs and symptoms of an allergic reac... Read more about swollen tonguesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a swollen tongue?

A swollen tongue is a symptom of a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. Some causes of a swollen tongue are serious, even life threatening, such as an anaphylactic reaction. Other causes may be relatively mild, such as a small cut when you have bitten your tongue.

Bacterial, yeast and viral infections can lead to glossitis, which is a condition characterized by your tong... Read more about swollen tonguecauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System, Allergies