Oral care

Inflamed taste buds-16 Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and 17 treatments

Inflamed taste buds or swollen taste buds can be really very irritating. Food is an important part of our life. We all love eating various foods and enjoying the taste of them.

There are thousands of taste buds on our tongue which play a vital role in aiding us to enjoy the food we eat. Along with taste buds, various parts of the mouth and pharynx play a vital role in making us sense the taste of the food.

If we develop inflamed taste buds or sore taste buds, we fail to relish the taste of the foods. Irritated taste buds make us feel that everything is just tasteless. Let us explore the causes and remedies of inflamed taste buds in this article.

Inflamed taste buds or Swollen taste buds causes:

Inflamed taste buds
Image source: mypkworld.com

There are many causes for the development of sore taste buds or swollen taste buds. They are:

Hot foods consumption:

Whenever we eat food, we need to ensure that it is of the right temperature. If we eat foods or drink liquids having a high temperature, these foods can damage our tongue and irritate the taste buds leading to inflamed taste buds.


Many people are allergic to many sorts of products. If a person is allergic to any food product, he can develop rashes on the skin, itching along with swelling or inflammation of the tongue. This can give rise to swollen taste buds or sore taste buds.

Some people are also allergic to other products used in the mouth like teeth care products, toothpaste, mouth rinses, etc. These products can induce an allergic reaction in a person leading to inflamed taste buds.


Alcohol is very injurious to health in many different ways. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to problems with liver, stomach and also give rise to sore taste buds due to their irritation.


Smoking is detrimental to the lungs. It is a known fact to all the people. But, do you know that smoking and chewing tobacco can cause even oral cancer and pharyngeal cancer. It can also cause swollen taste buds by irritating the taste buds.


GERD is the shortcut to gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is the reflux or regurgitation of acidic stomach contents into the mouth. It can lead to many symptoms like epigastric pain, retrosternal burning or pain behind the breastbone, foul smell in mouth and tongue pain due to inflamed taste buds. Swollen taste buds are seen in GERD as the taste buds are irritated by the sour and acidic contents that reflux into the mouth from the stomach.

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Mouth disorders:

Several disorders of the mouth can produce inflamed taste buds. Swollen taste buds are caused by fungal infection of the mouth by candida, or even by cancer of the oral cavity or aphthous ulcers that occur over the tongue.

Stress and anxiety:

Stress and anxiety are the root causes of all the modern day diseases. Our present-day lifestyle is full of stress due to competition at all levels and also due to the relationship and financial problems.

Stress can induce many changes in the hormones in our body. It can lower our immunity levels. This makes us susceptible to many infections. These microbial infections can also cause lead to inflamed taste buds.

Food habits:

Our food habits play a vital role in maintaining our health and also that if our body parts. Eating foods which contain excess salt, sourness or spices can irritate the taste buds.

This irritation can lead to the formation of inflamed taste buds or swollen taste buds. These foods also develop pruritus or itching over the tongue. This itching can make us bite the tongue which aggravates the inflamed taste buds further.

Injury or trauma:

If our tongue is injured due to any cause, it can irritate the taste buds and form sore or inflamed taste buds. Injuries that trigger swollen taste buds can be in any form like biting of the tongue, eating foods with a rough surface, cleaning tongue with sharp tongue cleaner while brushing teeth.

Vitamin deficiencies:

Vitamins and minerals are essential to maintaining the health of tongue as well. Deficiency of certain vitamins like vitamin B and also vitamin C can cause inflamed taste buds.


Several sorts of infections of the tongue caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause inflammation of the tongue and taste buds and form swollen taste buds.


Dehydration is also one of the causes of inflamed taste buds. Dehydration dries up the tongue and causes taste bud irritation.

Radiation exposure:

If you are exposed to radiation for any reason like taking radiotherapy to cure cancer, etc, it can also lead to the formation of inflamed taste buds.

Poor oral hygiene:

We need to maintain oral hygiene to prevent oral infections. Poor oral hygiene leads to the development of infections which can cause sore taste buds.

Dental problems:

If you have any dental problems like a sharp tooth or broken tooth, such a tooth can injure the tongue and form irritated taste buds.

Drug side effects:

There are some drugs which can have ill effects on the tongue like the formation of sore taste buds.

How do inflamed taste buds look like?

The inflamed taste buds over the tongue can appear in varying colors ranging from white to red. Sometimes there can be a presence of pus-filled blebs or vesicles over the tongue.

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Inflamed taste buds diagnosis:

At first, your physician or ENT doctor will take a detailed history of your food habits and any other factors that have led you to develop swollen taste buds. Then he will also ask if you have any other symptoms like weight loss, difficulty in swallowing, your sense of smell, etc.

He will perform a physical exam to see how the sore taste buds look like and also to see if you have any other abnormal signs elsewhere on your body. Then your physician might order any blood or radiological investigations if he thinks they are essential based on history and physical examination.

Inflamed taste buds remedies:

There are many home remedies that are available and also quite effective for the treatment of inflamed taste buds. There are also few medical treatments that are effective in getting rid of swollen taste buds. They are:

Drinking water:

Maintaining adequate hydration is essential to prevent and to treat inflamed taste buds. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.

Cold compress:

The cold compress is very effective in soothing sore taste buds. Just take few ice cubes, place them in a Ziploc bag and then use it as a cold compress over the tongue. But it needs to be placed only for a few minutes at once. Otherwise. It can damage the tongue further.


Consumption of probiotics is essential for maintaining the health of the gut and also of the tongue. Consume probiotics daily like yogurt, kefir, etc.

Warm water gargling:

Water gargling is an age-old remedy to get quick relief from sore taste buds. Just take a glass of lukewarm water and add a spoon of salt to it. Then gargle with this salt water 3 to 4 times a day for good results.

Essential oil usage:

There are many essential oils with innumerable health benefits. Tea tree oil also has many beneficial effects on health including oral health. Add few drops of tea tree oil to warm water and gargle using this mixture. It kills microbes in the mouth and helps in getting rid of inflamed taste buds.


Honey is a natural remedy for healing wounds and injuries and ailments of skin and mucous membranes for centuries. The benefits of honey cant are stressed enough. Just take half teaspoon of honey and supply it well over the inflamed taste buds. Do this regular fir few days. You will surely notice an improvement in sore taste buds.

Black pepper and ginger:

The combination of black pepper and ginger is quite effective in curing several conditions of the oropharyngeal region. Just take about 10 black peppercorns and a 1-inch piece of ginger. Crush both of them and boil them in a pot of water.

Then drink this warm pepper and ginger drink few times a day for several days. It is effective in curing sore throat, flu and also aids the healing of inflamed taste buds.

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Baking soda:

Baking soda is a very effective thing in getting rid of inflamed taste buds. Just take half teaspoon of baking soda and apply it over the tongue. Then wait for few minutes and rinse your mouth with water. Baking soda is very effective in getting rid of inflammation or swelling over the tongue. This also aids in curing the inflamed taste buds.


If the tongue is injured due to tongue cleaner or tongue biting, etc and this leads to inflamed taste buds, then glycerin application is very effective in healing these injuries over tongue which helps in healing swollen taste buds or irritated taste buds.

Vitamin supplements:

As vitamin deficiencies play a role in causing tongue inflammation and developing sore taste buds, regular intake of multivitamin tablets helps in faster healing of sore taste buds.

Antimicrobial drugs:

Certain microbes like bacteria, viruses or fungi can infect the tongue and cause inflammation leading to swollen taste buds, treatment with antimicrobial drugs will facilitate healing of the irritated taste buds.

Good diet:

A good diet plays a vital role in enhancing the overall health of a person. It enhances the immune system and helps in fighting infections causing tongue and taste bud inflammation. It also corrects nutritional deficiencies that can cause irritated taste buds.

Relaxation techniques:

Stress can lead to various diseases. Leading a stress-free life is a panacea for many ailments. Just try to follow relaxation techniques to become stress-free. This helps in curing inflamed taste buds.

Do meditation regularly, take part in breathing exercises, take a jog, walk in a park or near the beach. You can go dancing, play with kids, pamper your pets, do bird watching and any activity that makes you de-stressed.

Taking antacids:

You can take antacids if you think that GERD is causing your inflamed taste buds.

Quitting smoking and alcohol:

As smoking and alcohol, consumption can lead to the formation of sore taste buds, quitting them can alleviate your symptoms fast.

Maintaining oral hygiene:

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential as poor oral hygiene can attract germs which can cause tongue infection and inflammation. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss at night every day before sleeping.

Alterations in food habits:

As our food habits can lead to irritated taste buds, making some changes in food habits will surely help in reducing sore taste buds. Don’t eat very hot or cold foods. Consume foods of normal temperature. Eat food with fewer spices, salt. Also reduce intake of sour foods like citrus foods, etc.

When to see a doctor for inflamed taste buds or swollen taste buds:

You need to see an ENT doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • If your swollen taste buds are not getting better or healing with home remedies
  • If your inflamed taste buds persist for a prolonged period of months
  • If you notice that your sense of smell is abnormal or affected
  • If you have any difficulty swallowing
  • If you have any weight loss
  • If you have to swell of any lymph nodes over the neck
  • If you are having any other abnormal symptoms apart from inflamed taste buds

You people have seen all the possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis and remedies of swollen taste buds. Hope you find the article informative.

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