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What Causes a Swollen Tongue?


Updated May 30, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Causes a Swollen Tongue?
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Question: What Causes a Swollen Tongue?
Because a swollen tongue can sometimes be an indication of an emergent condition it is important to find the culprit and get help when needed.

The following are conditions that may cause a swollen tongue. These conditions are not necessarily emergent but may require medical intervention:

Emergent conditions:

You should see a doctor immediately if your swollen tongue is accompanied by difficulty breathing, drooling, or swallowing difficulties.

  • an allergic reaction - tongue swelling can be a pre-cursor to a life threatening condition called anaphylactic shock
  • epiglottitis - an infection that can cause tongue and throat swelling usually in small children, a tale-tale symptom is drooling

You can try using our symptom checker if you're not sure what is causing your tongue to swell but if symptoms persist or get worse consult your doctor right away.


Medline Plus. Tongue Problems. Accessed: April 26, 2010 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003047.htm

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