Swollen Taste Buds

What are Swollen Taste Buds?

Taste buds, which are medically called papillae, are, anatomically speaking, small structures located at the uppermost surface of a person’s tongue. Taste buds are connected to bundles of nerves which send signals to the brain. There are actually 10,000 taste buds located on the tongue. They function as the source or as the sense of taste, detecting a variety of taste of foods that are consumed day after day.  However, sometimes with every piece of consumed food, the presence of pathogens or foreign bodies are attached to it, causing the swelling and infection of the tongue.

  1. Swollen taste buds at the back of the tongue

When swollen taste buds occur at the back part of the tongue, it means that a person has ingested something which has clung to the back part of the tongue, causing it to swell. It may be due to an allergic reaction which triggered an inflammatory response. When the back part of the tongue gets swollen, the bitter taste buds will not be able to function correctly. Hence, bitter foods can’t be tasted properly.

  1. Swollen taste buds on the tip of the tongue

The tip of the tongue where salty and sweet taste buds are located becomes swollen as a result of an inflammatory or allergic response to something that has been ingested. When this happens, salty and sweet foods can’t be tasted properly. Furthermore, taste is also affected, and the affected taste may lead to weight loss and a loss of appetite.

What Do Swollen Taste Buds Look Like?

swollen taste buds People with swollen taste buds will show elongated and rough taste buds. Swollen taste buds will trigger an inflammatory process which consists of pain, pale, redness, tumor, and loss of function. Some would reveal enlargedred-dotted taste buds, while other may have white sores on their tongue.

What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?

There are a lot of factors which cause taste buds to swell, such as:

Salty foods

Salty foods can trigger swollen taste buds.

Chemical irritants

Anatomically speaking, the tongue has nerves. Ingested foods which consist of strong chemicals will eventually lead to the inflammation and irritation of taste buds. Examples of chemical irritants include alcohol, insecticides, and tobacco.

Spicy foods

This is the number one cause for swollen taste buds. Too much ingestion of spicy foods can lead to the irritation and eventually the swelling of taste buds.

Hot drinks

If consumed immediately in large amounts, hot drinks can lead to swollen taste buds.


The presence of infections like mouth ulcers and candidiasis will cause the tongue to swell.

Vitamin deficiency

Another reason behind the swelling is due to a vitamin B deficiency.

Acid reflux

Acid reflux happens when the acid of the stomach, which is called gastric acid, regurgitates towards the mouth, leading to the irritation of taste buds and eventually their swelling.

Physical trauma

Physical trauma happens when one accidentally bites his or her tongue, leading to the swelling and inflammation of taste buds. Hence, one should take care in chewing his or her food to avoid accidentally nicking one’s tongue.


Stress can have a negative impact on the body. Stress can lead to a disruption of the hormonal level and a weakened immune system which allows bacteria to linger. When this happens, it will trigger the inflammatory system.

How to Get Rid of Swollen Taste Buds?

To manage swollen taste buds, the following things can be done:

  • Applying ice or eating ice cream will lead to a reduction of swelling episodes
  • Indulging in yogurt can help treat yeast infection as well as soothe inflammation
  • Adopting a health oral health by having proper dental care may prevent unwanted kinds of infections
  • Applying glycerin is a good way to manage a swollen tongue
  • Gargling with tea tree oil can keep infections at bay
  • Applying baking soda can do wonders for an inflamed tongue
  • Taking vitamin B  can prevent the swelling of taste buds

Swelling of taste buds can cause discomfort as well as inconveniences. If the treatments mentioned here do not work, then an expert physician should be consulted to treat the condition.

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