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Swollen Taste Buds on Back of Tongue, Causes, Symptoms, How to Get Rid, Treat and Pictures

According to studies, there are between 2500 to 8000 number of taste buds on your tongue; esophagus, epiglottis and soft palate that help you taste foods. The taste buds at the tip of your tongue detect sweetness while those at back bitterness. The lateral buds detect sourness while those on the sides of your mouth saltiness. You cannot tastes foods and drinks with a swollen taste bud on tip of tongue. Inflamed taste buds cause further complications that require medical attention.

So why do taste buds swell or get enlarged? Get insight on the causes and symptoms of inflamed taste buds treatments including home remedies to get rid of them.

What Causes Inflamed Taste buds on Tip of Tongue

According to the United States Library of Medicine National institute of Health, taste buds are structures with specialized epithelial that help in sense of taste like salt, sour, sweet or bitter with aid of taste cells and taste receptors, all  located around small structures called papillae. Human oral cavity has numerous taste buds to mediate tasting and flavor namely soft palate, upper esophagus, epiglottis and inner cheek. When they irritated they get enlarged and swell thus ability to food tasting is largely affected.

Causes of inflamed taste buds


Lack of sufficient iron according to various researches is one among the common deficiencies that result to swollen taste buds. If the deficiency is chronic the tongue may as well become inflamed and turn red due to atrophy of papillae or atrophic glossitis. This leads to a painful tongue which is a symptom associated with plummer Vinson syndrome.

The other vital vitamins which are important in nutrition are vitamin B complex, B-12 and folic acid.


Radiation therapy as a treatment process can cause damage to the mucous membranes.  This therapy is used in controlling or treating patients with oral cancer.


Some antibiotics may contain chemicals that can easily irritate the taste buds hence triggering inflammation that makes them become enlarged.


Ingesting foods that are too spicy, acid or salty can trigger swelling. Most of such foods often irritate them, which in some cases might make them swell.

At times, these foods might trigger an itchy tongue. To help relieve the itch, most people will tend to rub or scratch their tongue against their teeth. This will worsen things as it further irritates your taste buds and tongue.


If you take very hot foods or drinks, you will suffer from swollen and inflamed taste buds. This will affect taste buds in all areas. Hot foods and drinks will burn your mouth and cause your tongue to swell.


According to Medical Hub and, some of the allergens that are likely to cause swollen taste buds include medication, some foods and dental care products. Allergens may cause your mouth and tongue to swell. You can prevent swelling from allergies by avoiding the allergens. For instance, you can avoid the foods or dental products that cause your taste buds to swell.


Some of the mouth conditions that will cause your taste buds to swell include oral cancer, oral thrush, mouth ulcers, candidiasis and canker sores. These conditions affect multiple taste buds.


Biting your tongue, oral surgery, injuries on your tongue and rubbing can irritate your taste buds and leave them inflamed. You can also get swollen taste receptors from tongue scrapping. Do not scrap your tongue with dental appliances or even your teeth.


Another cause of swollen taste buds especially on the tip of tongue is when someone or individual have an acid reflux. This condition happens when there is too much acid in the stomach such that the excess flows back to your mouth, especially back of the mouth and tongue. Bearing in mind the alkaline or basic conditions in the mouth and oral cavity, such a slight acidity or difference in PH [acidity or alkalinity] can irritate taste buds therefore causing swelling or enlargement.


Some medical experts and various medical researches have showed that stress can result in swelling of the taste buds. Some research says that stress affects hormonal balance and weakens body immunity. This makes your body vulnerable to infection.


If you indulge in alcohol consumption and tobacco chewing, they could cause inflamed taste buds. These products both irritate them as well as encourage infections which might cause swelling.

  1. STDs

This can happen if the sexually transmitted disease that can affect your mouth and thus papillae. Some of the common STDs that can possibly inflame or cause swelling include

  • Type 1 (HSV-1), oral herpes (fever blisters or cold sores). This disease cause sores on various parts of the body include your mouth and tongue and thus they can make papillae swollen and painful including your buds. Syphilis can also cause sores in your mouth and lips and consequently make them swollen.
  • Oral gonorrhea is known to cause itching and soreness of throat, swallowing difficulties and yellowish or white exudates. It can be responsible for this problem especially at the back of the tongueand sore throat.

Swollen Taste Buds on Back of Tongue Causes

When taste buds on back of tongue swell you are likely to experience problems of taste. The buds might be small, big or raised depending on what causes this problem. If you on the side of your back tongue, you might have an issue with your foliate papillae since this is where it is located.

However, the causes of swollen taste buds on the back of Tongue  may not be different from the general causes we have already discussed above which include, allergic reactions, spicy foods, salty foods, acid reflect, injuries, tobacco, alcohol, stress, STD( when you have a sore throat), and many others.

If the swelling is accompanied by a sore throat as well as other flu-like symptoms, you might be suffering from upper respiratory tract infections.

Treatment will depend on the causes. Most of the treatments and remedies we will later discuss will be helpful.

Swollen white taste buds on the back of tongue

If they are white, which could be on your tongue tip, back of the tongue or on the top surface, there are chances you have a condition called transient lingual papillitis. This condition is characterized by red or white small bumps on the tongue.

Other possible causes according to include gastrointestinal upset, menstruation, acidic or sour food, smoking and local trauma

What are signs of Inflamed Taste Buds

Below are 6 signs or symptoms of inflamed taste buds as pointed out in various refereed medical Journals.

  1. The papillae will appear elongated, having a rough surface and they can also be irritated
  2. Redness of the tongue
  3. Tongue surface color changes
  4. Sore throat
  5. Loss of tasting function of the taste buds
  6. Pain, white sores or white dots or red dots on the tongue depending on what caused them.

When to see a Doctor

Swelling of the taste buds is not a serious medical problem as in most cases it is a condition that can heal on its own. However, if the condition does not heal within a stipulated period, then a doctor should be consulted.

How long do Swollen Taste Buds Last

With the proper treatment and self care measures, this condition will go away before you even imagine it. The only thing that you have to understand is that, in case of an infection, the inflamed taste buds will stay for as long you have the infection. Once you take the proper treatment for the infection, you can hope for the other symptoms, taste bud inflammation included to go away. This is why it’s advisable to take your medication to cure the infection.

On the other hand, continuing to eat foods that are bad for you, drinking alcohol and smoking can prolong the healing time of the taste buds inflammation. As a matter of fact, this condition might worsen, if you do not start taking the necessary precautions. The same goes for using mouthwash, choosing hot drinks and not maintaining a good oral hygiene. You need to learn how to take proper care of your body and then you will be cured of taste bud inflammation as well.

How to Get Rid of Swollen Taste Buds – Home Remedies and Medical Treatments

How do you get rid of swollen taste buds? How if they are inflamed or painful? Below are various treatments, remedies and cures which might be helpful.

  1. Treat underlying cause

According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, ensure you get correct diagnosis and treatment of qualified healthcare personnel. The treatment you will receive will be tied to the cause. Whether it is oral thrust, canker sores, oral sores, mouth ulcers, oral cancer, etc, there are treatments.


The common treatments or medications you expect will be antiviral, antibiotics or antifungal for viral, bacterial and fungal infections respectively.

  1. Use antiseptic mouth washes

If the swelling is due to infections especially bacterial infection, you can swish anti-septic mouthwash. They will promote healing and prevent any future infections. After swishing your mouthwash, do not swallow it.

  1. Medical supplements or treatment

Doctors will prescribe different medical treatment for swollen buds depending on their cause. Hence, you will get different treatments or medical supplements for swelling caused by trauma, STDs, viral infections and bacteria. In case of nutritional deficiency, doctors recommend vitamin C and B complex. In case of bacterial infections and HPV herpes, doctors prescribe antivirals and antibiotics. In case of yeast infection fungal medications may be effective.

  1. Take Natural yoghurt

If you take natural yogurt or probiotic yoghurt on a good run, you will increase oral capability of fighting the infection causing bacteria while the beneficial bacteria multiply. These useful bacterial in yoghurt are good natural cure for infected taste buds. Unfortunately, if you are allergic to dairy products, you have to see your doctor to get anti-biotic prescription treatments to get rid of bacteria.

  1. Baking soda

Putting a baking soda paste directly onto your swollen inflamed taste buds is an effective way to get relief from inflammation. Or, you can rinse your mouth with baking soda and water to heal your inflamed taste buds.

The reason that baking soda is an effective home remedy for swollen taste buds is because it acts as a mild anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce swelling and normalize the pH levels in your mouth.

The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2016 found that a solution of baking soda as a mouth rinse can help to relieve inflammation.  


To make a healing mouth rinse with baking soda to reduce inflammation in your mouth, this is what you should do:

  • Mix 1/2 tsp. of baking soda in a cup of warm water. Rinse several times a day to ease the discomfort on your tongue and help the irritated taste buds heal quicker. Repeat until you no longer have any inflamed tongue bumps.

Alternatively, you can make an anti-inflammatory natural paste with baking soda, you should do the following:

  • mix 1 tablespoon of baking Soda with a little water to form a thick paste.
  • apply the baking soda remedy to the swollen taste buds and leave for several minutes.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water and spit.
  • Use the baking soda paste 1-2 times a day until there is no more swelling in your taste buds and prevent mouth ulcers.
  1. Honey

Honey is a natural healer that will kill off any infection causing your tongue bumps and also soothe irritation on your tongue. A study into the medicinal properties of honey found that it is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and helps to repair damaged tissue. Honey can also leave a protective layer on your tongue to prevent further irritation.

To use honey:

To use honey as a natural remedy for swollen and inflamed taste buds, please do the following:

  • Take a spoonful of honey and let the honey sit on your tongue for as long as possible.
  • Do this 3-4 times a day to help your tongue heal and get quick relief from irritation in your mouth.
  • After sometime, you should feel that the honey effectively reduced the inflammation and your swollen taste buds return to normal.
  1. Drink cold fluids

Another practical and easy way to rid you of irritating tongue bumps is to drink cold fluids. Any kind of cool drink will do, however, by drinking plenty of water, it helps to keep yourself well hydrated and prevent any side effects of dehydration.

  1. Oil of oregano

Oregano Oil is a little miracle cure that has incredibly potent anti-fungal properties. Oregano oil is 100% natural and is a very versatile addition to your medicine cabinet as it has many, many health benefits.

  • Take a drop or two of oregano oil and apply it directly to the affected area for around five to ten minutes. It’s okay to swallow the oil so you need not worry about spitting it out. Apply repeatedly after one hour gaps for best results.
  1. Tea tree Oil

Apply tea tree oil on the affected surface of tongue and mouth. Here’s how to:

  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to warm water
  • Gargle your mouth with this mixture
  • Rinse with warm water. Do this severally for maximum results. Do NOT use excess tea tree oil otherwise you will feel hallucinations.
  1. Garlic, Ginger and Pepper

These three ingredients: garlic, ginger and pepper can help to fight infections relieving swelling on taste buds. It is effective for getting rid of inflamed taste buds at the tip, back and sides of the tongue surface. You should eat food that has all these ingredients or alternatively make a solution of garlic, ginger and pepper. Drink at least two glasses daily to reduce inflammation and swelling of taste buds.

  1. Gargle with warm salt water

Gargling with warm water added salt can greatly help reduce infection in the mouth and swelling of buds. Prepare a solution of sea salt and warm water. Gargle your mouth especially the back of tongue and throat. You should do this at least thrice a day. It helps to relive infection in the mouth, tongue and throat. In the process, inflamed taste buds will be relieved relieving swelling.

  1. Ice

Ice is known to bring relief to pain like on bruises and welts. It will also work to soothe a painful tongue due to infection of the taste buds. Just apply an ice cube or ice chips on the enlarged taste buds for a little bit. Do not leave it too long as you may disrupt blood flow to the area though. You will welcome the numbness from the ice and notice any swelling will go down.

Prevention of taste buds from swelling or getting inflamed

According to [] the following are ways of preventing yourself from having swollen taste buds:

  • Avoid rubbing or scraping your tongue with objects or even your teeth. Also, ensure you use your toothbrush carefully to avoid scrubbing or rubbing your papillae too much.
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Avoid ingesting any toxic materials including poisons, irritating solutions, alcohol, and insecticides.
  • Keep proper oral hygiene to reduce chances of any infections that might make your tasting buds swell.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that are spicy, salty or too hot


  1. Mouth Ulcers:
  2. Oral Cancer: Symptoms, causes, Treatments, and More:
  3. Inflamed (enlarged) taste buds:

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