Taste buds are small structures found on the tongue. They are called as papillae in medical terms and are responsible in detecting the taste of what you eat and drink. Generally there are 5 major elements in taste including sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami. But there are many combinations of these major elements that give us variety of taste and flavor in each food. Taste buds are also found in upper esophagus, soft palate and the cheeks. It is said that there are about 2000-8000 buds in the tongue located liberally throughout the tongue.
It is not true that each area of the tongue has different taste buds and accordingly it would be able to sense suitable tastes. Taste buds are detected through the epithelium layer of the tongue through small openings. When food gets in contact with these taste receptors it sends suitable signals to the brain and cranial nerves and thus we are able to recognize the food as sweet or sour and much more.
Sometimes these taste buds gets inflamed and become enlarged or swollen. The small structure of papillae gets swollen due to inflammation causing sores on the tongue and even other parts of the mouth and throat. Various factors like eating hot/spicy foods, mouth infection, physical injury, dental procedures and lack of vitamins and nutrients can cause swollen taste buds. Treatment for swollen taste buds is to make small changes in eating habit and in avoiding allergic foods.
Swollen taste buds can be identified by red/white sores on the tongue, pain and irritation. The taste buds would become inflamed and enlarged. The surface of the tongue would change its color becoming red. In addition it may cause painful sores on the tongue and sore throat. The person might lose tasting function since the papillae would get inflamed. Red spots can be seen here and there on the tongue surface and even on the back of the tongue. In severe case it can cause throat pain and difficulty in swallowing.
Various factors can cause swollen taste buds. Whatever be the cause, the minute structures of papillae gets irritated and becomes inflamed. This might interfere with the normal tasting function. Eating hot and spicy foods can cause irritation of taste buds thus getting inflamed. Drinking very hot coffee/tea can affect the taste receptors thus reducing the sense of taste. Too much of tobacco and related products can cause inflammation of tongue. Toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol can disturb the normal texture of the tongue causing rough surface and swollen taste buds.
Eating highly acidic foods and allergic foods can cause swelling of taste buds. Many foods like grapes, lemons, seafood are acidic which can cause inflammation of taste buds. Mouth ulcers like oral thrush and mouth infections can cause inflammation of taste buds. Often this is the major cause of swollen taste buds. Mouth ulcer can interfere with the normal movement of the tongue causing pain and irritation during movement. Low levels of vitamins and basic nutrients can cause mouth ulcers leading to inflammation of taste buds.
Dental procedure, oral surgery and any other physical injury on the face can cause inflammation and swelling of taste buds. Itchy tongue can induce the person to bite and scrapping which would further aggravate the swelling of taste buds. Certain medications can induce allergic reaction in the tongue causing swollen taste buds. Increased anxiety and stress can affect your taste receptors. Similarly hormonal imbalance and weakened immunity would certainly affect the taste buds making it more vulnerable.
GERD or other reflux disorder can cause tongue irritation affecting the tasting function. Sexually transmitted diseases like yeast infection, oral herpes, syphilis, oral gonorrhea can affect the taste buds making it swollen. Frequent tongue biting and scrapping can largely affect the taste receptors causing inflammation. Taste buds occur everywhere on the tongue including front, sides and on the back. During infection and mouth ulcers the overall capacity of tasting function gets reduced.
No additional test is needed to detect swollen taste buds. The affected person may not have normal tasting function and might develop painful red sores on the tongue.
Images, Photos, Pics and Pictures of Swollen Taste Buds :
Preventing the cause is better than treating the swollen taste buds. It is easy to avoid certain foods that causes allergy and similarly it is easy to avoid eating/drinking hot and spicy items. Quit smoking and using tobacco in any form. Reduce alcohol intake and follow good oral hygiene. In severe cases your doctor would identify the cause and treat it. In case of mouth ulcers anti-inflammatory medications are effective. And for viral infections anti-viral drugs are given.
Using antiseptic mouth wash regularly can prevent bacterial infection. This is useful in healing of inflammation and would also prevent further infection. Gargle lukewarm salt water frequently for getting quick relief from mouth ulcer and swelling. Chewing ice pops can help in reducing swelling. Several home remedies like honey, turmeric, ginger, garlic, tea tree oil, yoghurt and baking soda are used to reduce inflammation and relief from itching.