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Swollen Taste Buds: Possible Causes That Can Lead To The Condition

Inflammation in the mouth can impact your appetite, more so if your taste buds are affected. Hear what our expert has to say about its possible causes

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: Jul 16, 2023 08:00 IST
Swollen Taste Buds: Possible Causes That Can Lead To The Condition

Onlymyhealth Tamil

Our taste buds give us the ability to enjoy and relish foods and beverages. It helps detect and transmit taste sensations to the brain, which include sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savoury. But what if our taste buds become inflamed? How will that affect our health? What can cause swollen taste buds in the first place? In an interaction with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Shruthi Manjunath, Consultant ENT, Apollo Clinic, Indiranagar, provides some answers. 

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How A Swollen Taste Bud Affects Your Health

A swollen taste bud, while uncomfortable, does not have any significant effect on your overall health. However, it primarily affects your sense of taste and the immediate area where the swollen taste bud is located. That said, it's important to address the underlying cause and manage any discomfort or pain associated with the swelling. Here are some possible ways it can affect you:

Swollen taste buds can be sensitive and painful, particularly when they are irritated by certain foods, drinks, or movements of the tongue. This discomfort can affect your ability to eat and enjoy food.

It can cause an altered taste perception and affect your sense of taste, making food taste different or less enjoyable.

If the swelling is due to an infection or inflammatory condition, there may be a slight risk of complications if left untreated. Infections can potentially spread or lead to other oral health issues if not addressed.

Depending on the location of the swollen taste bud, it might interfere with your ability to clean the affected area properly, potentially leading to inadequate oral hygiene in that region. 

Possible Causes Of A Swollen Taste Bud

Swollen taste buds, also known as transient lingual papillitis or inflamed taste buds, can have various causes, said Dr Manjunath. These include: 

Physical irritation

Accidental biting, scratching, or scraping the tongue with sharp or rough objects like toothbrushes, toothpicks, or hard foods can lead to swollen taste buds.

Spicy or acidic foods

Consuming spicy or acidic foods, such as hot peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, or vinegar, can irritate the taste buds and cause swelling. Additionally, consuming extremely hot food or beverages can cause burns on the tongue. Allow hot food to cool down before eating or drinking and be cautious with temperature to prevent further irritation.

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Allergic reactions

Some individuals may have allergies to certain foods, additives, or oral care products. Allergic reactions can result in tongue swelling, including the taste buds. Identify potential allergens and avoid them to prevent further swelling. If you suspect an allergic reaction, consult a healthcare professional for appropriate testing and guidance.


Viral or bacterial infections can lead to tongue and taste bud inflammation. Conditions like oral thrush (candidiasis), herpes simplex virus (cold sores), or strep throat can cause swollen taste buds.

Burning tongue syndrome

Also known as glossodynia or oral dysesthesia, this condition causes a burning or scalding sensation on the tongue, potentially leading to swollen taste buds.

Oral trauma or injury

Any trauma or injury to the mouth, tongue, or taste buds, such as burns, accidental biting, dental procedures, or dental appliances, can cause swelling.

Stress or anxiety

Emotional stress or anxiety can manifest physically and potentially affect the mouth and taste buds.

Dr Manjunath recommends consulting a healthcare professional or dentist for a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment. “A detailed evaluation by a doctor will help identify the cause for further management," she said.