Swelling under Tongue - Causes

Swelling under Tongue

The tongue may appear small, but is very important in that it helps in oral cleansing, deglutition, taste, mastication, and articulation. This flexible organ is part of oral cavity, partly located in the pharynx. Often, people fail to look at what’s happening beneath the tongue and do so after they have some pain or suspect there is an infection. It is important that you observe the underneath of your tongue and if you detect something unusual, you check with a dentist or doctor.

Swelling under tongue is a common problem and many people will obviously freak when they see that their underneath area of the tongue is swollen. You may be afraid that a swelling occurring under the tongue may result in malignant growth. Of course, this is understandable because any glandular swelling occurring in your body brings a lot of worry.

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In most cases, the swelling under the tongue is because of swollen salivary glands. In the mouth, you will find that there are tiny salivary glands and all are located in different parts. These salivary glands help in production of saliva to ensure the mouth remains wet and moist.

 

Causes of Swollen Salivary Glands

Having swollen salivary gland is the main reason you may have swelling occurring under your tongue. There are two main reasons why you may have the salivary glands swelling.

 

Infection

An infection of the salivary gland will cause them to swell as part of the body’s defense mechanism. A salivary gland infection caused by microbes like bacteria is thought to be the commonest reason you may see the underneath of your tongue swollen. The infection may occur due to reduced flow of saliva.

When there is inflammation or blockage of the salivary duct, it will prevent saliva from flowing effectively. This condition is referred to as sialadenitis. Since saliva helps in controlling the good and bad flora or bacteria in mouth, when there is insufficient flow of the saliva, it creates an imbalance of these microbes. When saliva cannot move freely in your mouth, you will have fewer bacteria as well as food particles being washed away. Having food remains and bacteria in mouth may contribute to an infection, which is indicated by swelling under the tongue.

Bacterial infection of salivary gland may be caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pyogenes, Haemophilus influenza, and Streptococcus viridians.

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Viral infection may also cause the underneath of the tongue to swell. For example, mumps is a contagious viral infection, which has been seen to cause such swelling. This infection is common among children, especially those who are not immunized against it. Swelling under tongue may also be caused by other vital infections such as herpes, influenza A, or parainfluenza types I and II.

 

Medical conditions

You may have a swelling under your tongue if you have health conditions and diseases such as HIV and Sjogren’s syndrome. With Sjogren’s syndrome, it is an autoimmune disease, which makes the mouth to be dry. Having tumor growing underneath the tongue could also induce swelling.

Other possible causes of swollen part of the underneath of tongue are such as;

  • Tumor
  • Salivary stone
  • Dehydration
  • Inadequate oral hygiene
  • Sarcodiosis
  • Radiation cancer treatment done on the neck or head
  • Malnutrition

When you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, it may cause bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of salivary gland. Also, people who have weakened immune system may be at risk of having swelling of the underneath of tongue.

If you are addicted to chewing of tobacco, it may increase your risk of having swelling under the tongue. When veins located under the tongue are constricted or irritated, they can cause swelling. Exposure to cold or heat can cause such irritation of veins. Other health conditions like canker cores may result in glandular tissue swelling, especially if they occur under your tongue.

When you have a salivary gland infection, you may experience symptoms such as dry mouth, face pain, pus in mouth, swelling of neck or face, and discomfort when eating or opening the mouth. You may also have fever and chills.

 

Diagnosis

A doctor will perform a visual examination to see if there may be swelling. Presence of pain or pus may indicate that there is bacterial infection that is causing the swelling. Additional tests may ordered by the doctor to help in determining the underlying cause and such tests include:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Ultrasound

 

Treatment of Swelling Under Tongue

If you have the underneath part of tongue swollen, a doctor will offer treatment depending on the cause. A bacterial infection will be treated using antibiotics. The doctor may use a fine needle aspiration to help drain any abscess that may be present.

A patient may consider home remedies such as massaging the gland that is affected, drinking sufficient water with lemon to help in stimulating the production of saliva. Rinsing the mouth using warm salt water may help clear bacteria.

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