Enlarged Papillae

Your tongue is responsible for all taste sensations. It helps you swallow and communicate. In your tongue, there are tiny structures sitting on the surface called papillae. Papillae have a role in taste of substances by the tongue. The papillae help determine whether a substance is salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. Papillae also help in determining bland food that many don’t like. At times, these structures can become enlarged. Having enlarged papillae is often normal but at times, serious conditions can lead to the enlarging of these structures.


Usually, people don’t give a lot of attention to papillae and at most time, they only have them examined when there is something serious like a condition that is causing pain. Because of the location in mouth, papillae can experience changes induced by different things such as diseases, trauma, or irritation, and become large than normal. The taste buds forms around papillae and these are what assist in detecting the taste of food.

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Papillae come in different forms— usually four different types are found in tongue. Fungiform are located scattered across the top part of tongue as well as the sides, and they help detect sweet and sour tastes. The filiform papillae are give the tongue that abrasive coating and they take v-shape. They are used to taste sour things.


Circumvallate papillae are also v-shaped and they are found at back end of tongue and they are few in number. They are useful in tasting the bitter tastes. The foliate papillae are found on side of tongue and they have a long fold—they taste something salty.

Causes of enlarged papillae

Different things may make papillae to enlarge and while this may not be a major problem, at other times, it could present a serious problem. An enlargement of papillae may be caused by smoking. People who smoke cigarettes will experience irritation of tongue. Smoking causes serious health problems such as emphysema and cancer.


Irritation of tongue can make the papillae to sore and enlarge. The enlargement of papillae may also be caused by gastrointestinal issues. Some problems arising from the gut may affect papillae on tongue. The body system is intricately connected and when there are changes in one part, they affect another part of body.


When a person has problems like gastrointestinal reflux disease or GERD, it affects papillae. Conditions like ulcerative colitis may also make the papillae to enlarge. Stress is another possible cause of having enlarged papillae. When you have stress, you will experience many problems. An imbalance in the mental health of a person can affect many systems and parts in body. Stress affects hormone production and enzyme release in body.


A person with canker sores may also develop enlarged papillae. Infection of tongue can cause the papillae to enlarge. This may make them painful. Infections can occur due to excessive biting, eating food containing excess acid, too much caffeine, or food that is too hot or spicy. Whenever there is an infection, it will cause an inflammation that triggers pain within the tongue.


Oral cancer may present in form of enlarging papillae in mouth. Cancer is a serious disease that needs early diagnosis so that treatment can be sought before it metastasizes. Therefore, if you have enlarged papillae and they do not go away on their own, you need to have an examination to determine the cause.

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While people may not give greater thought on papillae inside their tongue, when they are enlarged, they could become pretty painful making it difficult for normal task like eating or drinking. Irritation, infection, trauma, disease, and allergy reactions may be responsible for the enlargement and pain of papillae. At times, this is normal and it is likely to subside and go away on its own, but at other times, it is not normal.


Treatment of enlarged papillae

Treatment of enlarged papillae depends on what is causing them to enlarge. A change in lifestyle such as stopping smoking or refraining from taking too acidic foods may help in treatment of the condition. Smokers should stop smoking because of not only the papillae but also their overall health.


Oral hygiene is important because the mouth can be susceptible to infection because of the wide range of bacteria found on the surface. Keeping the tongue clean and the mouth properly brushed can help reduce an infection, which could result to enlarged papillae. Refrain from taking spicy foods as they can irritate the tongue and papillae.


Taking iron and vitamin B12 helps set up the vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are associated with enlargement of papillae. Iron is needed to help in managing the irritation and pain of the tongue when the papillae are painful. Doing away with stress will help manage this condition. Stress is a major cause of enlargement of papillae and when you manage it, it helps reduce the pain and further enlargement.


You should consider doing some exercise, eating a healthy diet, and trying meditation to help relieve stress. Avoid daily stressors and set realistic goals in order to avert much of the day-to-day stress. Under no circumstances should you cut the papillae that are causing trouble in your tongue. Cutting them can expose the tissue to infection. Taking foods like rich in probiotics such as yogurt helps in creating balance within the gastrointestinal flora thereby reducing the acid reflux problem.

Enlarged Papillae – Pictures

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