What are the Causes of Swollen Tongue and Its Effective Treatments

A number of conditions can cause a swollen tongue from trauma to infection. However when rapid swelling is present, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction. This can be life-threatening and it requires immediate medical attention.

Swollen Tongue Symptoms and Causes

The tongue is a muscle and is known as the strongest muscle in the body.

Some of the causes that lead a tongue to swell include:

  • Anaphylactic Shock. This is a severe form of an allergic reaction and it can be life threatening. The symptom usually appears following contact with an allergen. Breathing difficulties may be present as well. The patient may also present with hives and may collapse.

  • Trauma in the form of cuts or bites can lead to swelling. A bitten tongue is an example of trauma, it can occur accidentally or during a seizure.

  • Infections which can be viral, fungal, or bacterial in nature. With an infection, the tongue can swell up and may appear very red.

  • Burns. Swelling can also occur with burns. A burned tongue is painful and some of the taste buds may be affected.

Swollen Tongue Treatment

Treatment for a swollen tongue is going to depend on the underlying cause and its severity. With trauma, for example, minor cases do not require treatment as the tongue is able to heal itself. A badly bitten tongue, however, may require suturing.

Other possible treatments that may be used for a swollen tongue include:

  • Anti-microbial medication, this is done for infections and in some cases of severe trauma.

  • Pain medication

  • Steroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs

Anaphylactic Shock Treatment

When the swelling is caused by an allergic reaction it becomes an emergency medical situation. Patients need to be taken to the hospital as soon as possible because problems with breathing can occur. Some of the emergency treatments given to patients with anaphylaxis include:

  • Adrenaline/Epinephrine Shots. This brings down the swelling and counters the signs of an allergic reaction. Patients with known severe allergies may carry Epi-pens as these provide enough relief to allow the patient to be taken to the hospital.

  • Oxygen Support, patients may have difficulty breathing and may be given added oxygen to help supplement any deficit.

  • An intravenous line may also be inserted for the purpose of giving medicine.

Following an anaphylactic shock a patient may have to remain in the hospital for at least 24 hours.

Common allergies that can lead to anaphylaxis and a swollen tongue include:

  • Shellfish allergy

  • Iodine Dye Allergy

  • Drug Allergy (e.g. Penicillin)

  • Bee sting allergy

  • Nut allergies, this can involve legumes and tree nuts.

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