Causes of swollen taste buds and how to get rid of it?

how to get rid of swollen taste buds
Medically reviewed by Dr. Asim Cheema

Overview

It won’t be wrong to say that “our tastebuds taste everything we intake,” and that is the very first reason why they can be swollen sometimes. There could be several reasons, ranging from acid reflux, dry mouth, burns from extreme temperatures, foods or drinks, ingestion of spicy foods, exposure to radiation, infection or illness, and last but not least, bad dental hygiene. These causes typically suggest steering clear from these things or taking medical consultations and medications that can treat the underlying conditions causing swollen taste buds. Some of the home remedies can also act effectively and treat swollen taste buds.  

What causes swollen taste buds?

Some of the causes of swollen taste buds are as follows 

Acid reflux or GERD

Acid reflux, also called gastric reflux, is one of the most common causes of swollen taste buds. The acid can make its way up to your mouth, especially when lying upside down when sleeping, or can generally affect the delicate taste buds or papillae in the month, leading to swollen and inflamed buds. 

This acid is generally produced in the stomach to digest the food we intake and helps in absorption. If the stomach starts producing more acid than required, it can sometimes make its way to the mouth and affect the papillae or taste buds, leading to a specified swollen area. 

A Burn

 Usually, a burn with hot food or icy beverages/drinks can also affect the delicate taste buds on the tongue. After a burn, you will feel numbness in the specified area of your tongue, along with redness. 

It is also one of the most common causes of swollen taste buds in the mouth. It usually doesn’t require specific treatment from a healthcare provider and treats on its own. 

Infection

Some viruses and bacterial infections in the stomach or the oral cavity, such as scarlet fever, can affect and inflame your tongue. This fever usually occurs after the strep throat infection and affects almost all body parts with red patchy rashes and extremely high fever. Other than just the tongue, your whole body will probably be inflamed, and you can see noticeable changes in the body. Get yourself treated from an online doctor who may prescribe relevant medications for the infection.

Is your swollen tongue irritating you? Get connected now for effective treatment options!

Allergies

Allergies and the body not responding well to certain foods, supplements, and medicines can also be one of the leading causes of swollen tats buds, tongue, or patches on the papillae. If you have allergies or are sensitive to certain foods, they can cause your tongue to swell. 

Depending on your food, the body reacts to the allergen (allergy-causing substance) within minutes to hours. 

Common allergy-causing foods include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. You will notice a swollen tongue allergic response if you are allergic to any food items mentioned or other substances. 

Irritation and stress 

Irritation and stress can also serve as the primary and significant triggers that can cause the tongue to swell up and the papillae to inflame. If you have a sharp tooth or a denture rubbing against the tongue, it will irritate the tongue’s surface and cause inflammation and redness, leading to swelling of the affected area or patch. 

In some people, stress can also be one of the causes of a swollen tongue. 

If you are over-stressed or have a vitamin B deficiency, you might notice your tongue swollen and taste buds inflamed,

says Dr Richard Honekar

Spicy or acidic foods

Eating really spicy or sour foods can make your taste buds feel uncomfortable. It’s not just hot peppers or citrus fruits; things like ketchup, pickles, and acidity drinks can also bother your taste buds

Other troublemakers include sauces with tomatoes, snacks with lots of spice, and condiments like hot sauce or mustard. So, if you notice your taste buds feeling weird after enjoying these tasty but tricky foods, it might be a good idea to take it easy on them. 

Everyone’s different, so paying attention to how your body reacts can help you enjoy your meals without discomfort,

says Dr Richard Honekar

Smoking

Smoking can irritate your taste buds because cigarettes contain chemicals that aren’t friendly to them. Besides that, smoking is linked to oral cancer, which shows up as little bumps on your tongue. The harmful effects of smoking go beyond just the taste buds, affecting your overall oral health. It’s an excellent reason to consider quitting smoking for a healthier mouth and body. 

Timely diagnosis helps big time! Get connected with your healthcare provider now for personalized treatment plans!

How to know if your taste buds are swollen?

You will notice a specified area red, inflamed, and numb. These are some of the clear indications of swollen taste buds. Some of the other symptoms are as follows: 

  • Small bumps 
  • Red and  round bulgings on the tongue
  • Numb area 
  • Unable to feel the touch or taste  

How do you get rid of swollen taste buds?

Some of the easy approaches that can help you get rid of taste buds are easy-to-use home remedies like 

  • Rinsing with lukewarm and salty water. 
  • Applying a cold compress to the area by using an Ice
  • Avoid spicy foods 
  • Avoid citric foods 
  • Identify and avoid allergy-causing beverages or food items.
  • Do not brush your tongue while brushing your teeth. 
  • Quit smoking 
  • Try using sweet lozenges. 
  • Identify the cause of swollen taste buds and try to get the most needed and appropriate treatment for it.

What is the typical duration for inflamed taste buds to subside?

When you take all the necessary precautions like avoiding triggers, allergy-causing food items, smoking, and taking prescription medications to treat the underlying conditions, it will usually take 3-4 days to show its effect on the inflamed taste buds, and you will see the difference in symptoms. 

It can also take weeks due to an underlying medical condition like bacterial or viral infection. In this case, the symptoms will improve once the medications show their actions against underlying infections. 

How to prevent swollen taste buds?

Swollen taste buds can be prevented in several ways, some of which are as follows: 

  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and regular flossing.
  • Limit consumption of extremely spicy or acidic foods.
  • Quit smoking and avoid tobacco products.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption can help prevent irritation.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Choose a mild or sensitive toothpaste.
  • Allow hot foods and beverages to cool before consumption.
  • Manage stress through stress-reducing techniques or meditation sessions.
  • Identify and avoid foods that may cause allergies.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups for good oral health care.
Swollen taste buds can sometimes stay longer! Consult a doctor online now for well-suited prescription for swollen buds.

When should I see a doctor?

Usually, swollen taste buds or papillae don’t last for longer than 2-3 days and go away on their own. But I suppose it comes back and forth now and then. In that case, it indicates an allergen. It triggers the food you are consuming, you are stressed, you have a vitamin deficiency, or there is an underlying medical condition affecting your oral health and taste buds. 

In such cases, seeing a doctor and getting a needed consultation with a prescription for effective treatment and prevention measures is beneficial. 

FAQs about swollen taste buds

Can taste buds become swollen during illness?

Yes, it is most likely to happen when you are suffering from strep throat or bacterial infections. Scarlet fever is also one of the most common diseases that can cause a swollen tongue during and after illness. Getting consultation in these conditions can help treat underlying conditions and swollen taste buds.  

Are there specific age groups more prone to swollen taste buds?

No specific age groups are more prone to swollen taste buds or tongues. It depends on the underlying medical condition or external triggers you consume, eventually leading to swollen taste buds. 

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Bromley, Steven M. “Smell and taste disorders: a primary care approach.” American family physician 61.2 (2000): 427-436.
  • Cullen, Michelle Marie, and Donald A. Leopold. “Disorders of smell and taste.” Medical Clinics of North America 83.1 (1999): 57-74.
  • Witt, Martin, and Klaus Reutter. “Anatomy of the tongue and taste buds.” Handbook of olfaction and gustation (2015): 637-664.
  • Wilson, John Gordon. “The structure and function of the taste-buds of the larynx.” Brain 28.2 (1905): 339-351.

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