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Sore tongue or bumps on the tongue

There are many things that can make your tongue sore or cause painful tongue bumps, including:

  • Biting or scalding. Accidentally biting your tongue or scalding it on something straight out of the oven can result in a sore tongue until the damage heals. Grinding or clenching the teeth can also irritate the sides of the tongue and cause it to become painful.
  • Smoking. Smoking can irritate the tongue and make it sore.
  • Mouth ulcers. Many people will develop mouth ulcers on the tongue at some point in their life. The cause is unknown, although they can be worse during periods of heightened stress.
  • Burning tongue syndrome or burning mouth syndrome. Some post- menopausal women develop this syndrome, which makes the tongue feel as if it has been burned.
  • Enlarged papillae. If one or more of your taste buds becomes inflamed or irritated, it can swell and form a painful bump on your tongue.
  • Certain medical conditions. Medical conditions, including diabetes and anaemia, can have a sore tongue as a symptom.
  • Oral cancer. Although most sore tongues are nothing to worry about, you should consult a doctor or dentist if you have a lump or sore on your tongue that doesn't go away within a week or two. Many oral cancers don't hurt in the early stages, so don't assume a lack of pain means nothing is wrong.
  • A viral infection such as hand, foot and mouth disease in children.
  • Median rhomboid glossitis yeast infection.
  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgiatongue pain from nerve irritation.
  • Behçet's disease causing inflammation of the blood vessels.
  • Pemphigus vulgaris causing painful blisters.
  • Moeller's glossitis inflammation of the tongue.
  • Some medication.
  • Some mouthwashes.

Seek medical advice if you have concerns about tongue or mouth pain. If you have a mouth ulcer or problem in the mouth that doesn't clear up within a couple of weeks, or if you have concerns, see your GP or dentist.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 24, 2015

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