We don’t think much of our language, but they can actually be an indicator of our overall health. The appearance of the tongue can change for many reasons, and most of them are not serious.
Have you ever noticed swelling at the back of your tongue? Usually these bumps are caused by some type of oral infection. Read on to find out what causes these bumps and when they are a cause for concern.
What Are Tongue Lumps?
The tongue consists of muscles, and its surface is covered with a mucous membrane. Typically, small projections (also known as papillae) cover the surface of the back of your tongue. Between the papillae are your taste buds that help you taste food. Usually, these papillae are quite unnoticeable. But sometimes they get bigger and can cause you pain. This could be for many reasons.
What Are Common Causes of Bumps on the Back of the Tongue and How Can You Treat Them?
Here are some common reasons why you might see large bumps on the back of your tongue:
Oral thrush: If the inside of your mouth is red and you see white patches on your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks, you may have oral thrush. Wiping these patches can leave bleeding red spots. The good news is that oral thrush is pretty harmless for most people and can be treated with antifungal medications. However, oral thrush can be more serious for people who are immunocompromised, such as people who are undergoing cancer treatment or have HIV/AIDS.
Leukoplakia: The primary symptom of this condition is thickened white patches on your tongue, gums, under your mouth, and on the inside of your cheeks. They cannot be scratched. The cause is often chronic irritation from tobacco. While patches of leukoplakia are not usually cancerous, some show early signs of cancer. Therefore, if you notice these patches, it is best to consult your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
Herpes: Also known as fever blisters, these sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and can appear on your lips, inside your cheeks, or on your tongue. They start out as a fluid-filled blister that bursts after a day or two before it starts to heal. The sores usually last about 8-10 days and are highly contagious. Avoid oral contact, such as kissing, and do not share utensils, lip balms, or other objects that touch your mouth during this time. Herpes usually heals on its own, and although you can speed up the process with antiviral medications or creams, there is no way to get rid of HSV.
Scarlet fever: One of the symptoms of scarlet fever is a red and bumpy (“strawberry”) tongue. It is usually very red, accompanied by a sore throat, high fever, red skin rash, and a bright red coloration of the skin in your armpits, elbows, and groin. Scarlet fever usually occurs in children or adults who have been in contact with children. Bacteria called group A strep cause this condition, and your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria.
Oral squamous papilloma: This is a benign mass that appears on the border of the tongue. They are often attributed to the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to a study, the best way to remove them is surgery. Recurrence is unlikely, except in immunocompromised patients.