Painful and Enlarged Papillae on Tongue: Causes and Treatment

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Painful and Enlarged Papillae on Tongue: Causes and TreatmentIt is our tongues that are responsible for all of our taste sensations, help us swallow, not to mention let us communicate through speech. Papillae are connected with the way we experience taste.

These small structures help us to determine whether we taste something as sweet, salty, sour, or bitter. They also help us determine the often bland tastes of food we would rather go without.

No matter what we are putting in our mouths, it is the papillae that help us distinguish taste. The tastebuds are what forms around the papillae, and these little structures in our mouth are an intricate part of the entire system.

There are actually four different types of papillae that can be found on the tongue. Knowing the difference between them is not altogether important, but is interesting in knowing what determines different tastes upon the pallet. Below are the four different types of papillae found on the tongue and a little more information on each.

4 Different Types of Papillae on the Tongue

1. Fungiform Papillae

These mushroom-shaped papillae are what helps us detect sweet and sour tastes. You know that feeling you get in the sides of your mouth after eating sour candy? This is the fungiform papillae at work. They are located in a scattered way across the top of the tongue, but most are found on the sides of the tongue (think sour candy) and the apex of the tongue.

2. Filiform Papillae

These papillae are why we have that abrasive coating on our tongue. The filiform papillae are V-shaped and are long and thin. There are more filiform papillae than any other on the tongue and somewhat like the fungiform, help us to determine sour taste. The filiform, however, don’t have anything to do with sweet sensations.

3. Circumvallate Papillae

These papillae are situated in a V-shape form on the back end of the tongue that heads toward the throat. These are the papillae with the least amount, with most people only having between ten and fourteen. The taste buds surrounding these papillae are very prone to picking up the bitter tastes found in many foods.

4. Foliate Papillae

These papillae are situated on the sides of the tongue and contain a rather elongated fold with them. Clustered into two groups, they help to determine whether something is salty.

We don’t really give much attention to our papillae until something goes wrong. When our papillae become enlarged its pretty hard not to think about them. Papillae that become infected or irritated and enlarged can be painful and make even the most normal tasks like eating and drinking extremely painful.

While enlarged papillae is often normal, there are some conditions that cause the unnecessary enlargement of the papillae on the tongue. The following are all causes of painful papillae on the tongue and should be noted on the level of their severity.

Causes of Enlarged Papillae on the Tongue

• Smoking Cigarettes
We all know how harmful smoking is to our health, yet there are millions of people around the world who continue to light up every day. Smoking excessively can lead to some very serious health conditions, including emphysema and many types of cancers. A less serious side effect, but a harmful side effect, all the same, is the irritation smoking causes to the tongue. Smoking cigarettes is often the cause of enlarged and sore papillae on the tongue.

• Gastrointestinal Issues
Believe it or not, there are some problems in our guts that will lead to enlarged papillae on the tongue. Our bodies are intricately connected in more ways than we could possibly imagine. When issues such as GERD or ulcerative colitis appear within our system, one of the symptoms they carry is enlarged papillae on the tongue.

• Stress
Stress is the cause of a number of different health problems and is definitely a contributing factor to enlarged papillae on the tongue. Enlarged papillae may be further irritated when canker sores form along with them. Stress will only make symptoms more painful and taking measures to reduce stress in your life is highly advised.

• Infection
Infections on the tongue are no joke and can become extremely painful when left untreated. Infections of this kind can be caused by a number of reasons such as excessive biting on the tongue (a habit many people have), eating foods that contain too much acid such as an excess of citrus or too much caffeine, as well as eating something that is too hot.

• Oral Cancer
Enlarged papillae on the tongue could be a sign of something much more serious than a simple infection. Oral cancer strikes more people than you might think, and if symptoms of swollen papillae on the tongue continue to worsen or do not get any better in a few weeks, it may be a sign of oral cancer. Consulting a professional medical technician is highly advised if you have even the slightest indication that you may have oral cancer.

6 Treatments for Enlarged and Painful Papillae on the Tongue

There are ways to relieve the pain associated with painful, enlarged papillae on the tongue. Many of these remedies can be used at home without the need to visit a doctor. If symptoms are severe and do not go away after a week or two, it may be wise to see a professional. Here are some easy tips that may help and leave you feeling normal in no time.

1. Stop Smoking

Avoid smoking

Painful and Enlarged Papillae on Tongue: Causes and Treatment
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  1. Any treatment for the infection?
    I cant eat or drink its painful. I think I get this tongue burn when I eat super sour pineapple.
    Do you have any suggestion to what kind of food and drink can I eat? And what treatment can I apply? Thank you for your help.

    1. I find eating chicken noodle soup with cayenne pepper to help it… Surprisingly cayenne pepper can help… Google it

  2. I have had this for years. When I eat BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, tomato sauce and anything that has a lot of vinegar this happens to me. I have found a Herb called L-Lysine it works wonders. I take one in the morning. Now I can eat my hamburger with mustard, spaghetti with the grandkids and my favorite BBQ. But before you start taking any herb or medication ask your doctor. Also research the herb before you start taking it.

  3. I have this now and no matter what I do or use it just gets worse and more sore and swollen. I'm 15 – can barely eat drink talk or sleep. Please help me

    1. Go to your pediatrician, mine prescribed "nystanin oral suspension" and it worked. I was doubtful that a mouth rinse could help because it was so painful, but it did. Best of luck to you!

  4. I have about 4-5 on the back of my tongue and I thought I was getting a sore thought.. But these bumps was causing my throat to stay sore, I was told to stay away from spicy foods and soda and rinse my mouth out with warm salt water.

  5. The tongue is not responsible for all of our taste sensations (in reference to the first sentence of the article), only five (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami). The rest of the flavours we experience come from our olfactory cells (from smell). Food particles travel up the back of the mouth into the nasal passage where they are recognized as a certain smell. It is something like 80% of the taste we know actually cocmes from our sense of smell- not out tongue.

  6. Can anyone help me? after taking the anti biotic Flagyl, I developed White hairy tongue or elongated papillae hypertrophy.  Hyperkeratosis of the tongue from allergic reaction from Flagyl, Metrodinzole.  difficult shedding or desquamation. Naturally buildup or keratin on tongue. Condition has been present for 7months, and I am totally depressed.
    These are Treatments prescribed and taken to date;
    1.nystatin mouth wash
    2 nystatin powder,
    3 probiotics,
    4 diflucan,
    5 tongue scraping,  
    6 grapefruit seed extract,
    7 salt rinse
    8 baking soda rinse,
    9 tazorac,
    10 detoxes,
    11 papain,
    Current Prescribed Treatment;
    Dr Eisen,
    1. Salagen pills; for increased saliva.
    2. Fresh Pineapple
    3. Tretinion gel / Retin A
    Up until now the
    Raw pineapple has helped with minimum effect but hair grows back in a few hours or next day. Dr Eisen states that it can take a few months to see results. 30 days into treatment, no visible change.
    Seeking to normalize shedding of tongue and normalize  production of keratin on tongue. returning tongue to normal healthy pink condition.
    Tongue does is not painful.
    Tongue swab culture tests have been done confirming it is not THRUSH or any fungal or bacterial infection.
    Diagnosis is:
    Elongated Papillae; White hairy tongue.

    Can anyone Help me?

    1. How are you doing now? Have you been able to find something that works for you. I am having a similar problem.. I did have thrust for a while. The elongated papillae are all the way in the back of my tongue.

    2. I have the same thing apart from scraping my tongue made the papillae swell up and it’s now hairy around the swollen papillae. Has your problem resolved yet?

  7. I have been getting these ever since I was a very young kid. Any sign of a bad cold or flu coming on and I get these hardened spots on my tongue and go there so painful. I have them now I feel like crap and I just don’t know what to do

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