What are Common Causes of a Swollen Tongue and Sore Throat?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2019
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A swollen tongue and sore throat can be symptoms of a few different problems. Most commonly they are indicators of an allergic reaction, mononucleosis or tongue cancer. An infection in the mouth can also cause these symptoms. Other less common issues may also be responsible for a swollen tongue and sore throat. Many problems caused by these symptoms can be serious and may need emergency attention.

Allergic reactions can sometimes cause a swollen tongue and sore throat, depending on the severity of the reaction. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction may include trouble breathing, hives, rashes and sneezing. A swollen tongue also can be a cause of the breathing problems, if the tongue swells enough to block the throat. The issues that occur because of a person’s allergies may appear on just one area or may affect the person’s entire body.

Mononucleosis, or mono, is often known as the “kissing disease” because it is transferred from one person to another by saliva. It can also be spread by mucus and tears. It is a virus that leaves a person feeling extremely tired for a long time. Once a person contracts the virus, it will be present in his body for the rest of his life, sometimes becoming active and contagious.


Symptoms of mono include weakness, extreme fatigue, fever, a swollen tongue and sore throat. Only a doctor will be able to tell if mono is the cause for all of these issues, and he will usually place the patient on bed rest for a while. If the ill person takes care of himself and gets a lot of rest, mono symptoms usually go away. Prescription medication may be needed, but most of the time acetaminophen to bring down the fever and calm the sore throat is all that is needed.

Tongue cancer is a very serious condition that, if it is left untreated, can lead to death. Some symptoms of this condition include a swollen tongue and sore throat. A person might also experience swollen lymph nodes, ear aches, white patches on the tongue, red patches on the tongue, numbness, pain and bleeding. Sometimes there is also a lump on the tongue.

The symptoms that occur with tongue cancer can also be symptoms of other problems. For this reason, only a doctor can decide whether a person has cancer of the tongue. He will most likely take a person’s history, do a physical examination and then perform a biopsy of the tongue before making a diagnosis.


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Post 5

I have been scared for so many days. I have bad breath from my tongue, even if I brush three times, until my tongue gets numb. I had a dental problem. Has this all happened because of this? I also think I had a sinus problem. My body is itching and I've had some hives. Does this sound like an allergy? What should I do?

Post 4

I have a small bump on my tongue. It hurts when I have ketchup.

Post 3

Many childhood diseases cause these symptoms too, I know it from my kids. The ones that come to my mind right now are mumps and measles.

When my son had the measles, his throat was really dry, he couldn't swallow easily. His tongue was also really red and a little swollen. Of course he had a rash and fever too.

Post 2

I actually get a sore throat when I catch a cold for a few days. It's how I know that a cold is coming on and I start having hot teas and vitamins.

I know not many people have tonsillectomy but my brother had it last year and he had swollen tongue and sore throat for several weeks until it healed. The doctor had said that it's completely normal after surgery.

Post 1

My mom is allergic to cinnamon, which we just found out about. For two days she was complaining of a really sore throat after having tea with cinnamon. It sounds uncommon but apparently lots of people are allergic to cinnamon.

It can also cause swollen tongue and throat. Thankfully mom's was not that serious but now she has to read the packaging of cookies, teas and spice mixes to make sure it doesn't have cinnamon.

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