The Swollen Taste Buds Blues!

swollen taste buds
1045373 / Pixabay

Has eating gotten painful lately? Do you look in the mirror and see that those taste buds of yours are looking larger than normal? You might have the swollen taste bud blues. Not to worry, however, as we’ve got you covered. In this article we are going to discuss a little about your taste buds, what can cause them to become painful and swollen, and most importantly, exactly what you can do about it. So grab yourself a tasty beverage(nothing too acidic, though, if your taste buds are swollen!) and let’s discuss the wonders and the health of your glorious tongue.

A lesson delivered in good taste

The taste buds are pretty amazing. Close to 10,000 micro sensors housed inside those little bumps that cover your tongue. Thos bumps are called papillae. Inside each one, 10 to as many as 50 cells connect with a network of nerve fibers that instantly let you know that your friend Jeff should never, ever be allowed in a kitchen. These little babies are responsible for the delight that you have in your favorite cheeseburger or cherry cheesecake, as well as the horror that you might experience when you chug some milk straight from the carton and it’s well past its expiration date(really, smell it first!). That said, you really should be motivated to take care of them when there are signs that something is not right in the Taste Carnival. Enlarged taste buds or otherwise irritated taste buds are not happy taste buds. Let’s discuss the causes of this and what you can do about them.

Are Swollen Taste Buds a Real Thing?

You bet your britches, they are. The same sensitivity that makes your taste buds so wonderful can also make them vulnerable. So, what causes swollen taste buds on the tongue? How long do swollen taste buds last? For the former question, we have a list for you and for the latter, we’ll discuss as we move along. It all depends on the symptoms and circumstances. Some common causes of swollen taste buds are as follows:

swollen taste buds back of tongue
3271136 / Pixabay
  • Poor hygiene – Yes, it’s a chore, but brushing your teeth 2 to 3 times a day keeps your smile shiny and generally, well, in place. It also combats halitosis, so that you don’t find yourself knocking birds out of trees with the mere issuance of an errant breath. Irritated taste buds can come of poor oral hygiene so at least employ mouthwash if you don’t always have time to brush as much as you like. Your friends and co-workers will be pleased.
  • Acidic foods – Ah, a personal weakness. Variety is the spice of life, but actual spicy- spices are frankly divine. That said, it might be time to cut down on the more vicious peppers or curries if you find yourself with painful and swollen taste buds. Relax, it should clear up quickly in time for Friday hot wings.
  • Smoking – A hard habit to kick, aside from the cumulative detrimental effect on your lungs, smoking can be a factor in swollen taste buds due to chemicals in the cigarettes that irritate your taste buds. They can also reduce their sensitivity, which may be why you eat so many ghost peppers… EVERYONE can taste those.
  • Food temperature factors – Food that is too hot or too cold and eaten anyway… yup, another cause of swollen taste buds. This should pass quickly..
  • Radiation exposure– Getting a lot of x-rays on your head and neck? This could be the culprit where swollen taste buds are involved. While there might not be much that you can do about it, consult your physician. They might have a clever workaround or some good advice for this uncommon scenario.


a persistent case of swollen taste buds can eventually damage your sense of taste”


  • Acid reflux – As this condition is bringing stomach acid up to your mouth, this can certainly cause an inflammation of the taste buds. Check with your physician, it could be acid reflux.
  • Cottonmouth – A dry mouth can cause inflammation of the taste buds. Try to be sure that you are getting your recommended 2 liters of water a day to combat this.
  • Tooth abrasions – If you have a broken tooth abrading your tongue, this might be your issue. Visit your dentist and get it dealt with and your taste buds will be happy again in no time.
  • Stress – Stress… so many symptoms can arise from it that it’s a wonder that we don’t all meditate. If you are experiencing swollen taste buds in times of extreme duress it might be good to take a little ‘me time’ at your soonest convenience.
  • Iron and B12 – Are you getting enough vitamins? Remember, a well-balanced meal is not a hamburger in each hand. Go to your local grocery or pharmacy and get some iron and b12 supplements to make sure that a deficiency in these vitamins is not causing your inflamed taste buds.
enlarged taste buds
jarmoluk / Pixabay

Swollen taste buds on the back of the tongue: Treatments

While we touched on some things to do in the previous section, there is a little more that can be done when you have enlarged taste buds at the back of the tongue. While this condition generally goes away quickly, remember that a persistent case of swollen taste buds can eventually damage your sense of taste, so treatment options such as the following should be considered. These can all be done at home.

  • Salt water rinsing 2 to 3 times daily.
  • Antacids can help with acid reflux
  • Brushing and flossing regularly
  • Popsicles are a delicious way to reduce swelling


In conclusion, we’ve reviewed the gloriousness that is your taste buds. Everyone has a favorite food and these little guys are the reason that you can enjoy it, so take good care of them! Watch for the signs and the symptoms that we have outlined for you and your taste buds will surely thank you most kindly.

1 thought on “The Swollen Taste Buds Blues!”

  1. I love to have my food hot, and would often find myself with a swollen tongue as the cause, especially after consuming a steamy plate of spicy food my dentist recommended that I take breaks every so often and stop eating steamy food let it cool a little it’s bad for your taste buds, best advice I got

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