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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What causes sudden onset of swollen tongue?

Answered by
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Dr. Riddhi Shah

ENT Specialist

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 508 Questions

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Posted on Thu, 2 Mar 2017 in Accident and Emergency
Question: Woke up with severely swollen tongue.
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Answered by Dr. Riddhi Shah 35 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Advise you to consult a Physician as early as possible.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,thank you for posting your query on health care magic.

Looking at your symptom,the probable causes for tongue swelling in your case might be as follows:

1.)Allergic reaction:The most common cause of tongue swelling is a type of allergic reaction called "angioedema."
Two types of angioedema can lead to a swollen tongue:
a.) Angioedema from anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a severe, sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction. It happens within minutes of being exposed to an allergy-causing substance. This reaction is also called anaphylactic shock.
It can be caused by insect stings, food, or medicines. It's caused by the release of "histamine" into your bloodstream and tissues. Histamine is an immune system chemical.
Tongue or throat swelling can happen along with an allergic rash (hives), wheezing, diarrhea, and shock (low blood pressure).
Anaphylaxis may need to be treated with injected epinephrine, Antihistamine medicines, Corticosteroid medicines and if the tongue is so swollen that it's obstructing the airway, a breathing tube may need to be placed temporarily.
b.) Angioedema from other causes
In some forms of angioedema, a body chemical called "bradykinin" causes the tongue swelling. Tongue and mouth swelling is usually the only symptom.
This can be caused by medicines, such as:
ACE inhibitors (a type of blood pressure drug),Calcium channel blockers (heart or blood pressure drugs),Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen)
Angioedema due to drugs is treated by stopping the drug. Patients are often given a corticosteroid injection and an antihistamine. If the tongue is so swollen that it's obstructing the airway, a breathing tube may be placed temporarily.

2.)Glossitis-inflammation of the tongue.     
It is associated with pain in the tongue,change in the colour and surface of the tongue.It is treated with Multivitamin tablet ,especially containing Vitamin B complex and Iron,Anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen.Oral hygienge is required and Avoidance of irritants (such as hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco) to reduce any tongue discomfort.

3.) Irritants and trauma. You may find that your tongue swells if you accidentally bite it or burn your tongue with hot liquids or hot foods. Dental appliances also can irritate your tongue and cause it to swell. Tobacco is yet another irritant that can cause tongue pain and swelling.

It would be advisable to consult a Physician Doctor as early as possible as severe swelling of tongue may cause difficulty in respiration by blocking the airway.

Hope this answers your question.I would be happy to answer if you have any follow-up questions.Take care.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
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