Swollen Taste Buds Causes, Getting Rid of Tip, Back Tongue Enlarged Tastebuds

by Annie Shuler

What causes swollen taste buds in the mouth, on the tongue, at the back on the tongue or on the tip of the tongue? They can be caused by STDs, allergies, injuries, diseases and conditions, etc. How do you get rid of swollen tastebuds? Discover the swollen tastebuds causes, treatments, remedies, and much more including some photos to illustrate the problem.

Where are the taste receptors located?

Taste receptors are located on taste buds which are found on tiny structures (lingual papillae) located on “upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus, the cheek, and epiglottis” [Wikipedia]. They are responsible for detecting five primary taste elements i.e. bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami whose combination helps us detect various flavors.
These buds are found in only three of the four papillae i.e. circumvallate, fungiform, and foliate papillae while they are absent on the filiform papillae.

What are swollen taste buds?

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Swollen tastebuds refer to bigger, distended or enlarged taste buds which are characterized by swollen or enlarged circumvallate, fungiform, and foliate papillae. The swelling could be on one side of tongue, in the back of tongue, on the tip of the tongue or on cheek, soft palate or the other parts that have them.

Symptoms of taste bud swelling

The papillae will appear elongated, having a rough surface and they can also be irritated (aggravated) or inflamed. We will discuss inflamed tasted buds separately. Other than being swollen, other symptoms you may have include redness, tongue surface color changes, sore throat, loss of function (tasting function), pain, white sores (or white dots) or red dots on your tongue, etc. depending on what actually caused them.

What causes swollen taste buds, why are my taste buds swollen?

There are many reasons why you have swollen tastebuds which could also be inflamed, irritated and painful. Some of the common causes of swollen tastebuds on tongue and other parts include the following:

Spicy, acidic and salty foods

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Ingesting foods that are too spicy, acidic or salty can trigger swelling of your taste receptors or buds. Most of such foods often irritate them, which in some cases might make them swollen. At times, these foods might trigger an itchy tongue. To help relieve the itch, most people will tend to rub or scratch their tongue against their teeth. This will worsen things as it further irritates your buds.

Hot drinks and foods

Taking very hot drinks and foods can cause inflamed and swollen taste buds on tongue and other parts of your mouth. Furthermore, hot foods can also burn your mouth and cause a swollen tongue.

Trauma, injuries, rubbing and biting

Tongue injuries, oral surgeries, rubbing and tongue biting can result to irritated and swollen painful taste buds. Furthermore, tongue scrapping can also be responsible for this problem. Avoid biting, scrapping or rubbing your tongue against any objects, your teeth or dental appliances.

Allergic reactions

Various allergens can trigger swelling especially food, dental care products, medications and among others. Allergies are also known to trigger tongue and mouth swelling. If you notice this problem each time you take a certain food (such as nuts, sea foods, grapefruits, lemons), medication or use a certain dental care product, it could be behind the swelling and irritation.

Tobacco chewing and alcohol

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If you indulge in alcohol consumption and tobacco chewing, they could be behind enlarged tastebuds on tongue. These products both irritate them as well as encourage infections which might cause swelling.

Stress and depression

Some experts have a belief that excessive stress can have a hand in your tastebuds swelling. It has been noticed that some people tend to have this problem when they are under much stress and thus the conclusion. Stress affects hormonal balance and weakens body immunity. This makes your body vulnerable to infection.

Acid reflux disease

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Gastric acid regurgitation due to acid reflux disease can also irritate your tongue, mouth and especially buds for tasting. This is because of the much acid contained in the regurgitated food.

Mouth infections and conditions

Various mouth infections such as candidiasis, oral thrush, canker sores, oral cancer, and mouth ulcers are known to cause multiple swollen taste buds especially around the affected areas of your mouth.

Swollen Taste Buds STDs

Enlarged tastebuds STDs are basically those sexually transmitted disease that can affect your mouth and thus papillae. Some of the common STDs that can possibly cause inflamed and swollen tastebuds include

  • Type 1 (HSV-1) oral herpes (fever blisters or cold sores). This disease cause sores on various parts of the body include your mouth and tongue and thus they can make papillae swollen or cause swollen painful taste buds.
  • Syphilis can also cause sores on your mouth and lips and consequently make your tasting buds swollen.
  • Oral gonorrhea is known to cause itching and soreness of throat, swallowing difficulties and yellowish or white exudates. It can be responsible for swollen tastebuds at the back of the tongue and sore throat.

Deficiency in some nutrients

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Deficiency of some vital nutrients such as vitamins B complex, C or folate can increase the possibility of one having swollen papillae and buds.

Swollen taste buds on tongue

It is common for someone to have swollen tastebuds on the tongue. They can be caused by most of the reasons we have discussed above include tongue infections, injuries, spicy foods, swollen tongue, etc. Treatments for taste buds on the tongue are similar to those we will mention as we look at how to get rid of tastebuds.

Swollen taste buds on tip of tongue or enlarged

Since you have a high concentration of fungiform papillae at the tip of the tongue, a swelling in this region might indicate a problem with your fungiform papillae. However, it can be caused by any of the above causes especially injuries such as tongue biting, rubbing against your teeth and scrapping.

If you have swollen tastebuds on tip of tongue during pregnancy, ensure you see medical attention to know what could be causing it since the cause could or could not be related to your pregnancy.

Swollen taste buds on side of tongue

At times, you might have swollen tastebuds on side of the tongue. The side of the tongue has mainly the fungiform papillae as well as foliate papillae. The causes are much or less the same as general causes we have already discussed. Similarly the cures or treatments for swollen tastebuds on side of the tongue or edge of tongue will depend on what causes the problem.

Swollen taste buds back of tongue and pictures

When you have swollen taste buds back of tongue, you are likely to experience problems with bitter tastes i.e. you can’t taste. The buds might be small, big or raised depending on what causes this problem. If you have swollen tastebuds on the side of your back tongue, you might have issue with your foliate papillae since this is where it is located.

Causes of enlarged taste buds on back of tongue

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The causes of swollen tasting buds back of tongue are not different from the general causes we have already seen and they include allergic reactions, spicy foods, salty foods, acid reflex, gonorrhea (when you have a sore throat) , injuries, tobacco, alcohol, stress, among many others.

In case you have swollen tastebuds on back of tongue and sore throat as well as other flu like symptoms, you might be suffering from an upper respiratory tract infections.

Swollen taste buds sore throat

It is common to have swollen tastebuds especially at back of the tongue and sore throat. If you have other symptoms such as sinus drainage problem, cough, headache, fever and congestion, you might be having an upper respiratory infection. Other infections such as gonorrhea can also cause sore throat, difficulties in breathing as well as some bumps at the back of your tongue. Finally, having a dry throat can be a cause of swollen tastebuds.

Swollen white taste buds, why do I have white swollen tastebuds

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If you have swollen white taste buds which could be on your tongue tip, back of the tongue or on the top tongue surface, there are chances you have a conditions called transient lingual papillitis. This condition is characterized by red or white small bumps on the tongue.

On what causes white swollen tastebuds, a number of things could possibly be a cause and they include, “stress, gastrointestinal upset, menstruation, acidic or sour food, smoking, and local trauma” [Wikipedia].

Therefore treatment or how to get rid of swollen white tastebuds will be dependent on the cause. Most of the remedies and treatments discussed below might be of help.

How to get rid of swollen taste buds, treatment, remedies, cures

How do you get rid of swollen taste buds on the side, tip or back of your tongue? What if they are inflamed or painful? Well, we will look at various treatments, remedies and cures which might be helpful when you have enlarged taste buds.

Antiseptic mouth washes

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If your taste bud swelling is due to infections especially bacterial infection, you can swish an anti-septic mouthwashes. They will promote healing and prevent any future infections. After swishing your mouthwash, do not swallow it.

Treat underlying cause

We have seen that many infections and conditions can cause tastebuds swelling. Ensure you get the correct diagnosis and treatment for a qualified healthcare personnel. The swollen taste buds treatment you will receive will be tied to the cause. Whether it is oral thrush, canker sores, oral sores, mouth ulcers, oral cancer, etc., there are treatments.

The common treatments or medications you expect will be antivirals, antibiotics or antifungals for viral, bacterial and fungal infections respectively.

Sea salt water gargles

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This involves preparing a sea salt and warm water mixture and gargling it at least 3 times a day. Mix about a teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of water and gargle the solution. This solution will help reducing the swelling and inflammation.

Use of ice

Chewing or applying ice on your mouth can bring down the swelling. While getting rid of swollen tastebuds using this method, ensure you do not overdo it by keeping the ice for too long since it can affect normal blood circulation.

Baking soda

If you your buds are also inflamed, try applying baking powder since it works well as an anti-inflammatory and it will also aid in reducing the swelling.

Garlic + ginger + pepper

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Another way on how to treat swollen taste buds is eating foods with healing properties as well as those that help fight infections. Eat foods that contain garlic, ginger and pepper since they can help reduce inflammations as well as decrease the chances of getting an infection.

Swashing honey

Swashing honey in your mouth is a great way to get rid of swollen buds since honey has healing properties as well as antibacterial ones. It will quickly heal swollen taste buds.

Other remedies and treatments for swollen tastebuds

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Besides the above ways to get rid of swollen tastebuds, you can try the following:

  • Use glycerin especially the cause is injury related or mouth sores. Glycerin has excellent healing properties.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil in warm water and gaggle it. It will help in reducing mouth infections caused by bacteria. Ensure you do not use many drops since you might begin hallucinating.
  • If you are prone to fungal infection, try oil of oregano since it has ‘potent antifungal properties’ besides many other medicinal benefits.
  • Drink natural yoghurt to help combat some fungal infections and restore healthy bacteria in your mouth and digestive track.

I guess what to do for swollen taste buds is clear now. Let us look at some ways to prevent this problem.

How to prevent enlarged taste buds

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Prevention is better than cure. You do not need to wait until you have this problem. To help prevent the occurrence of this problem, you need to ensure you:

  • Avoid foods that are salty, spicy or too hot foods and beverages since we have already mentioned they can cause this mouth and tongue problem.
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Avoid ingesting any toxic materials including poison, irritating solutions, alcohol and insecticides
    Keep proper oral hygiene to reduce chances of any infections that might make your tasting buds swell.
  • Avoid rubbing or scrapping your tongue with objects or even your teeth. Furthermore, ensure you use your toothbrush carefully to avoid scrubbing or rubbing your papillae too much

With all this information, I hope swollen buds on tongue, back of the tongue, side of your tongue, on your tongue tip, on your cheeks, upper esophagus and soft palate will no longer trouble you.

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