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Why Is My Tongue Swollen?

Tongues can swell for reasons ranging from allergies to vitamin deficiencies. Here are some reasons why your tongue may be swelling and what treatment may be necessary.

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Glossitis, or a swollen tongue, is common according to medical professionals. When the tongue becomes inflamed or is triggered by outside bacteria or stimuli, it can become too large to perform normal daily functions such as speaking, eating, or drinking. Depending on the cause of your swollen tongue, a dentist or other medical professional could help you treat the symptoms.

Causes of a Swollen Tongue

If your tongue has grown larger or is feeling uncomfortable in your mouth, here are some common reasons why.

Swollen enlarged white tongue

Viral or Bacterial Infection

One of the most common viruses that can lead to a swollen tongue is herpes (the cold sore virus, HSV1). Herpes can cause uncomfortable blisters on the outside of the mouth, but it can also swell as the surrounding mouth becomes inflamed. Other infections that can cause tongue swelling include syphilis, yeast infections, or strep throat.

Allergic Reaction

In some cases, a swollen tongue is a tell-tale sign of an allergic reaction to something. If you have an allergy to certain food groups such as peanuts or gluten, a severe and painful allergic reaction and swelling of the tongue can occur.


Some foods or beverages that we consume, while tasty, can be irritating to our mouth’s bacterial flora. Hot foods such as spicy sauces can trigger irritation in our mouths and make our tongues become inflamed. Other irritants include tobacco chewing, or drinking alcoholic beverages.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12, can cause tongue swelling. B12 is essential for blood and nerve cell health. When we lack proper nutritional intake of B12 our mouths can become discolored and inflamed.


A mouth injury could be due to more than just getting a blow to the face, it could be from piercings in or around the mouth, braces, or poorly fitting dentures. If any pressure has been inserted on your tongue recently, it may be the reason it has started swelling.

Treatments for a Swollen Tongue

Treatment for a swollen tongue depends on what is causing the inflammation to occur. In many instances, people will likely not need treatment for a swollen tongue, since the swelling can often go down on its own. If the swelling is not going down, here are some other remedies.


If the swelling you experience is from an allergic reaction, antihistamines can block the body’s response to the histamine and reduce the uncomfortable swelling symptoms from the allergen.

Antiinflammatory Medicine

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can reduce inflammation. Swelling in the mouth is caused by nerve cell inflammation, and these medications like ibuprofen can ease pain, fever, and swelling.


If you have an unhealthy diet, this could cause inflammation over time due to the lack of vitamin and mineral balances in your body. By improving your diet and eating foods that contain B12, you could improve chronic tongue swelling.

Oral Hygeine

Practicing good oral hygiene can treat a swollen tongue. Cleaning your tongue with rinse aids or flossing regularly can clean the bacteria in your mouth that leads to infection or inflammation.

Can I Prevent a Swollen Tongue?

A dentist may be able to help you assess the cause of your swollen tongue. Once the cause is determined by a health professional, you can find ways to prevent tongue swelling, such as avoiding triggering irritants like spicy food, not consuming foods you are allergic to, or avoiding playing contact sports where you may have a harsh impact on your mouth. Other prevention methods may include doing an intake of any medications you’re taking and whether or not they have any effect on your blood or nerve cells. If you need further evaluation, contact an oral healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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