A tongue performs the most important task in anyone’s life, the act of communicating and consuming food and liquids. It also helps in deciphering the taste and in pronunciation. A tongue that swells up can be really uncomfortable and frustrating and should be taken seriously, as it can spread towards the back and into the throat. A tongue swelling is an abnormal condition resulting from various reasons. Normally, the tongue enlarges due to swelling of the muscles of the tongue or due to edema of the deeper layers of the tongue. The other reasons for the swelling can range from a simple infection to a symptom for hyperthyroidism or even a tumor. Given here are some causes for swollen tongue. Read on further to know them.
Swollen Tongue Causes
Acromegaly is a rare hormonal disorder, involving excess growth hormone production by the pituitary gland located in the brain. This is caused by a non-cancerous tumor called pituitary tumor, which overproduces growth hormones, eventually resulting in oversized organs, bone deformities and other secondary disorders. In case acromegaly is not diagnosed and treated early, it severely damages the vital organs like kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, spleen, pancreas and parathyroid glands.
Amyloidosis is a metabolic disorder, wherein the amyloid protein accumulates in body organs and tissues, thereby causing damage to them. In certain cases, the conditions can be really fatal. Amyloidosis has numerous forms, such as primary amyloidosis, secondary amyloidosis, hemodialysis-associated amyloidosis and familial amyloidosis.
Angioedema is a serious disease, involving rapid swelling of the mucosal and submucosal tissues. This is an allergic reaction that occurs due to the side effect of a medication taken by people with hypertension. The swelling can occur in mouth, throat, skin around the mouth and hands also. In serious cases, the swelling can also obstruct the air passage, causing asphyxiation.
Hypothyroidism is a common disorder resulting from an underactive thyroid gland i.e., the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone. Also known as myxedema, hypothyroid or underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism slows down the body’s chemical processes and metabolism. Hypothyroidism can also be caused due to disorders of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Transient Lingual Papillitis
The taste buds present on the dorsal surface of the tongue become inflamed and red, thereby swelling up. This condition is called transient lingual papillitis. This usually manifests at night and may or may not lead to overall swelling of the tongue. A person can complain of local trauma to irritation of the tongue due to intake of spicy food.
Down syndrome is a genetic chromosomal syndrome that causes mental retardation and certain physical effects, like tongue swelling. This happens when an extra third copy of chromosome 21 is created by a random error in the mother’s egg. The syndrome is diagnosed in the mother’s womb, during pregnancy through different tests like ultrasound, amniocentesis and CVS.
The tongue can swell up due to a systematic disease or disorder. One such case is scarlet fever, where the tongue becomes bald and swells up. In Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, the tongue turns bright red known as strawberry tongue. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can also lead to inflammation of the tongue known as glossitis.