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Swollen tongue

Swollen tongue: Introduction

A swollen tongue is an abnormal condition in which the entire tongue or a portion of it is enlarged, bloated or distended. A swollen tongue is a symptom of a variety of disorders, diseases or conditions. A swollen tongue can result from infection, inflammation, allergy, genetic disorders, trauma, malignancy, metabolic diseases and other abnormal processes.

A swollen tongue can result from an allergic reaction or the more serious anaphylactic reaction. A swollen tongue combined with certain symptoms, such as hives, itching, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, called tachypnea, (more that about 16 breaths per minute for an adult) can be a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. This often occurs in a sudden, severe attack that can include respiratory distress.

Another sudden cause of a swollen tongue is trauma, that results in a laceration and/or contusion.

A swollen tongue can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when it is due to acromegaly, sarcoma, oral cancer, or Down syndrome, also known as mongolism. For more details about causes, see causes of a swollen tongue.

A swollen tongue often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include tongue pain, tongue lesion, and difficulty chewing and/or swallowing. Complications of a seriously swollen tongue can include airway obstruction, low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels in the body and respiratory distress. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications.

Diagnosis of a swollen tongue combined with an allergic reaction and respiratory distress is generally made very rapidly by paramedics or in an emergency room setting. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and a possible history of allergy, and treatment begins emergently.

Diagnosing a swollen tongue that is due to a condition that is not a life-threatening emergency begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including visual examination of the tongue.

A noninvasive test called a pulse oximetry is generally performed. This involves clipping a painless device to the fingertip, which measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include blood tests, culture and sensitivity tests of any infected lesions on the tongue and/or biopsy of tongue tumors or lesions to determine if cancer is the cause.

A diagnosis of a swollen tongue and its cause may be delayed or missed because a swollen tongue may progress gradually or be mild or include only a portion of the tongue. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of a swollen tongue.

Treatment of a swollen tongue involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Treatment of anaphylactic reaction includes immediate administration of the medication epinephrine, supplemental oxygen administration, and possibly the insertion of a breathing tube into the throat to keep the airway open.

Some other conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of a swollen tongue....more »

Swollen tongue: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing a swollen tongue and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, a swollen tongue may progress gradually, such as in oral cancer, or it may not be severe enough or painful enough for a person to seek medical care.

A swollen tongue is a symptom of many different conditions that range in severity from mild to immediately life ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Swollen tongue:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Swollen tongue. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Swollen tongue: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Causes of Types of Swollen tongue:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Swollen tongue:

Swollen tongue: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Swollen tongue, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

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Swollen tongue Treatments

Treatment plans for a swollen tongue are individualized based on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, decreases the risk of developing serious complications, such as airway obstruction, and helps a person to chew and swallow normally.

...Swollen tongue Treatments

Review further information on Swollen tongue Treatments.

Stories from Users for Swollen tongue

Real-life user stories relating to Swollen tongue:

Message Boards for Swollen tongue

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Swollen tongue or relevant symptoms:

Medications or substances causing Swollen tongue:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Swollen tongue as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Swollen tongue: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Swollen tongue may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Swollen tongue

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Swollen tongue:

Swollen tongue: Deaths

Read more about causes and Swollen tongue deaths.

Swollen tongue: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Swollen tongue

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Swollen tongue:

Organs affected by Swollen tongue:

The list of organs typically affected by Swollen tongue may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Swollen tongue

The list below shows some of the causes of Swollen tongue mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Swollen tongue?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Swollen tongue. Of the 251 causes of Swollen tongue that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 1 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 4 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 245 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Swollen tongue:

The following list of conditions have 'Swollen tongue' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Swollen tongue or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Swollen tongue:

The following list of medical conditions have Swollen tongue or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

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Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Swollen tongue?

Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Swollen tongue, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

Classifications of Swollen tongue:

Subtypes of Swollen tongue:

Enlarged tongue (29 causes), Macroglossia (36 causes)

Medical Conditions associated with Swollen tongue:

Tongue symptoms (430 causes), Swelling symptoms (3730 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

Symptoms related to Swollen tongue:

Tongue pain, Red tongue (41 causes), Sore throat (512 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Tongue symptoms (430 causes), Swelling (3730 causes), Tongue conditions, Tongue infection, Allergic reaction (49 causes), Hypothyroidism (106 causes), Pituitary gland over-secretion, Acromegaly (15 causes), Tumor, Amyloidosis, Macroglossia (36 causes), Cretinism, Myxoedema, Mongolism

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

These general medical articles may be of interest:

Medical News summaries about Swollen tongue

Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Swollen tongue and many other medical conditions:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Swollen tongue

Medical research papers related to Swollen tongue include:

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Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Swollen Tongue:

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