Oral care

Inflamed Papillae: 10 Causes, 10 Treatments

Inflamed papillae on tongue can be very painful and they can make eating food very uncomfortable. Let’s explore its causes and remedies.

Papillae are protrusions or bumps that are evenly distributed on the surface of the tongue. It is these papillae that make it possible to taste what goes to your mouth whether bitter, sour or sweet. In addition to that thanks to their rough texture eating is made possible. Tongue papillae are also responsible for sensing temperature.

If not well taken care of, papillae can be damaged leading to a condition called inflamed papillae. Inflamed papillae are associated with painful and reddish bumps on the tongue. You might also experience pain or a burning sensation if you have swollen papillae.

Types of inflamed papillae:

inflamed papillae
Inflamed papillae
Image source: upsocl.com

There are four types of inflamed papillae which come in different forms. It is essential that you are in a position to distinguish them for you to know the triggers. They include:

Foliate papillae:

They appear at the sides of the tongues. They appear in folds that differ in shape and size. They are the ones responsible for detecting salty taste.

Fungiform papillae:

They are mushroom-shaped and occur on the tip and the sides of the tongue. They are responsible for detecting the sour and sweet taste.

Filiform papillae:

The rough texture of the tongue is a result of the filiform. They are fine, long and V-shaped. Filiform papillae are the greatest in number compared to the other types of papillae. They are responsible for the detection of the sour taste.

Circumvallate papillae:

They are found at the back of the tongue leading to the throat. They are the least in number and distinguished by their V-shaped form. Humans are known to have 10-14 circumvallate papillae. They help us detect bitter taste on food.

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Causes of inflamed papillae:

  1. Canker sores

They are painful sores found in the mouth, mostly on the cheeks or the lips. Their reasons include mouth injuries, emotional stress and even a viral infection resulted by bacterial propagations in the body. When one has canker sores or mouth ulcers they suffer from swollen papillae which can be painful.

  1. Excessive smoking

Excessive smoking irritates the tongue surface which in turn brings about enlarged papillae. Inflamed papillae caused by excessive smoking affects the fungiform papillae. In addition to that excessive smoking may lead to oral cancer whose symptoms include enlarged papillae.

  1. Stress

We are all exposed to stress. However, there are those people who go through high levels of stress. High-stress levels significantly contribute to inflamed papillae.

An example is when one is suffering from ulcers which are a stress-related disease they may develop mouth sores on the lips which may, in turn, result in enlarged papillae on the tongue.

  1. Weak immune system

In a case where your immune system is weak, you are not able to fight disease-causing infections. In this case, you are highly likely to contract mouth cancer which is associated with inflamed papillae.

  1. Irritation of the tongue

Have you ever taken extremely spicy, very hot or even very bitter foods leaving your tongue sore? The papillae on the tongue surface are responsible for detecting the tastes. Once the flavours are extreme, or of very high temperature the papillae swell as they try to cope with the condition.

Irritation of the tongue causes inflamed papillae. In some cases, the tongue turns black.

  1. Hormonal imbalance

When a woman is pregnant or on her menstrual cycle, her body goes through some shifts due to hormonal changes or irregularities. One of the variations that pregnant women experience is swollen papillae. The swelling of the tongue is inflamed papillae.

Enlarged papillae on tongue during pregnancy is linked to a weak immune system whereby the body is not able to fight infections.

  1. Gastrointestinal condition

Inflamed papillae also occur as a result of the digestive disorder. A person suffering from GERD, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis and, reflux acid may have symptoms such as inflamed papillae. This condition affects the circumvallate papillae.

  1. Mouth infections

They are various mouth infections that can result in swollen papillae. These infections include candidiasis, oral cancer, canker sores, mouth ulcers and oral thrush. All these mentioned infections occur to enlarged papillae on tongue.

  1. Transient lingual papillitis

This condition affects the fungiform papillae. It is characterised by very painful, reddish and extremely swollen fungiform papillae. It is a common condition which at times does not need treatment as the enlarged papillae as a result of transient lingual papillae may disappear within days.

  1. Vitamin deficiencies

Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 and folic acid may lead to a condition called benign migratory glossitis. This condition is associated with map-like swollen patches on the surface of the tongue. The swollen patches which are inflamed papillae are sore and even painful at times.

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Treatment for Inflamed papillae:

Inflamed papillae are a common condition that is not harmful. However, if you experience the painful sores, the tingly-burning sensation and the redness on your tongue for a long time, you should seek treatment.

Treatment includes:

  1. Manage stress

Mental stress is one of the causes of enlarged papillae on tongue. If you are suffering from inflamed papillae are as a result of stress you should try as much as possible to avoid stress. We however know that is so hard to avoid stress and therefore what you should do is learn how to manage stress.

  1. Quit smoking

Smoking has always been an enemy of good health. In this case, smoking leads to swollen papillae and continued smoking escalates the issue. You should, therefore, stop smoking to avoid worsening the situation. No one has ever quit smoking in one day, quitting smoking is a process you should, therefore, start by reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke.

  1. Strengthen your immune system

For you to treat inflamed papillae on your tongue, you need to find ways to enhance your immune levels so that your body can fight infections.

The key to strengthening your immune system is adopting a healthy lifestyle, for example, sleeping enough, doing exercise on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy weight.

To improve your immune system, you can also resolve to take food supplements and avoiding things that can impair your immune function which includes cigarettes, alcohol, and stressful situations among others.

  1. Take foods of the right temperature and correct amount of spices

We at times knowingly cause the inflamed papillae. You self-inflict when you take an extremely hot drink that you know your tongue can’t handle or very spicy foods that send a burning sensation down your throat.

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To avoid swollen papillae due to taking very hot drinks and spicy foods, take foods of the right temperature and only uses spices sparingly as too much of anything is harmful.

  1. Include yoghurt in your diet

Yoghurt contains a percentage of probiotics which are good bacteria’s that help in the digestive system. Probiotics are also known to reduce inflammation, strengthening the immune system, and it also contains vitamin B-12. With all these, yoghurt helps in a big way to treat and prevent enlarged papillae.

  1. Gargling sea salt water

For you to reduce the swollen papillae on your tongue, you can gargle water containing sea salty. Sea salt contains fluoride which is vital for dental health. You should, therefore, make gargling of sea salt water a habit as it helps alleviate inflamed papillae and mouth sores.

  1. Maintain oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is essential so that you avoid accumulation of bacteria in the mouth which causes inflamed papillae. You need to brush your teeth and tongue after eating any meal and also ensure regular flossing. This will help prevent enlarged papillae.

  1. Increase intake of Vitamin B-12 and iron

To treat inflamed papillae, it is advised to increase consumption of foods and drinks that contain vitamin B12 and iron.

By increasing the intake of vitamin B12, you will increase the vitamins in your body and hence avoid conditions that are brought about by vitamin deficiency inflamed papillae being one of them.

  1. Apply ice cube on your tongue

The next time you experience swollen papillae on your tongue try rubbing an ice cube on your tongue. Rubbing an ice cube on your tongue alleviates swelling. You should not do this for long as it may end up interfering with your blood circulation.

  1. Baking soda

Baking soda has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-acid properties that help reduce inflamed papillae on tongue. You should rinse your mouth with water containing baking soda after every meal to treat inflamed papillae.

When should you see a doctor?

Inflamed papillae are not harmful and are easy to manage. Some of them do not require treatment as they disappear on their own.

In most cases, the treatments mentioned above are 100% successful in treating inflamed papillae. However, if you use those treatments and the burning sensation is still there, painful sores and patches on your tongue are still persistent you should seek medical attention.

It is only your doctor who can accurately diagnose and advice you on the right medication for your enlarged papillae.



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