7 things that make taste buds swell

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A swollen taste bud is probably caused by something you’ve eaten, but sometimes it’s a sign of another condition.

Image Credit: Deagreez / iStock / GettyImages

Fast: Watch your tongue. These bumps? This is called the taste buds. Most of these taste buds contain taste buds. According to Britannica, your tongue has 2,000 to 8,000 taste buds.

And, as you guessed, those taste buds can swell.

Often people don’t even know they have swollen taste buds until they have a reason to look in their own mouth, Otolaryngologist Michelle Robin Yagoda, MD, told LIVESTRONG.com (and taste bud expert) at Northwell Health in New York. .. (Like when you go for a dental cleaning, have a cold sore or a canker sore, or another family member has an oral problem, causing you to take control of yourself.)

For some people, what they find is alarming. “A lot of people come into the office saying ‘listen, I got this tongue thing and I’m afraid it’s tongue cancer,’” says Dr. Yagoda.

To see something? Here’s what could happen – and when to tell your doc something.

1. This is what your taste buds look like

What you might see is the appearance of completely normal taste buds.

There are different types of taste buds. One is the foliate papillae, which are located on the back of your tongue in an inverted V-shape, says Dr. Yagoda. These are bigger and rounder than your other heads, and you can see them clearly if you look at your tongue in the mirror.

“Being able to see those taste buds isn’t a big deal, but if they feel funny then you should get them checked out,” she says.

2. Your tongue is irritated

In response to irritation, the taste buds may swell.

“The most common causes are spicy or acidic foods,” says Dr. Yagoda. It can also happen if you eat something hot.

Fortunately, things should be back to normal shortly, without you having to do anything about it.

“The mucous membranes in the mouth turn quickly, which means they break off and develop new ones. The inflammation should go away in three to four days at most,” says Dr. Yagoda.

Another source of irritation? Acid reflux, especially if stomach acid is backing up in the mouth. (This type of tongue irritation from acid reflux would appear on the back of the tongue, says Dr. Yagoda.)

Other symptoms of acid reflux are as follows, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Stomach pains
  • Chest pain
  • Problems swallowing or feeling like you have a lump in your throat
  • Swallowing sour food or liquid
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice

4. It’s oral allergy syndrome

She points to another culprit: oral allergy syndrome. If you have seasonal allergies, this is a cross reaction between allergens in pollen and certain foods (like raw fruits and vegetables). According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, it can also cause itchy mouth, sore throat, or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat.

Cooking foods that trigger oral allergies can help tame symptoms.

5. It’s a dental problem

Your teeth can also chronically scratch and irritate your tongue.

“This can be dangerous over a long period of time. Chronic inflammation in the same location can predispose a person to developing abnormal cells that can become cancerous in the area,” says Dr. Yagoda.

If the problem is tooth-related, your dentist can take a smoothing burr and easily and painlessly file a rough tooth in minutes, she says.

Poor oral hygiene can also play a role in tongue and taste bud problems. Getting your teeth cleaned and plaque removal at the dentist can help, adds Dr. Yagoda. To keep your tongue in tip-top shape, gently brush the surface with a soft bristle brush, she recommends.

6. It’s a nutritional deficiency

Lack of B vitamins or low iron levels can show up as tongue problems.

“This is why it is so important that your doctor take your complete medical history and know if you have anemia or celiac disease or other disorders causing malabsorption,” says Dr. Yagoda. “Underlying medical problems can appear on the tongue.”

It is important to have a lump or new growth in your mouth examined by a doctor. And don’t assume you’d be able to tell that something was cancerous.

“When it comes to oral cancers, there is often no sensation or pain associated with these growths,” says Dr. Yagoda.

People at higher risk for oral cancer include those who smoke and drink alcohol. According to the American Cancer Society, if you are a heavy smoker and drinker, you are 30 times more likely to develop any of these cancers than non-smoker abstainers. (Cigarette smoke also irritates the taste buds, for the record.)


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