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Macroglossia: All You Need to Know
About Your Big Tongue


Macroglossia Is a Rare Condition

Did you notice that some of your friends have larger tongues than you? This isn’t anything they should worry about because tongues vary in size. However, some can have a large tongue that protrudes from the mouth, and that’s problematic. 

In infants, this large tongue can, later on, be the cause of teeth and jaw misalignments. Luckily, braces and Invisalign are available treatments for all kinds of teeth and jaw irregularities. If you’re curious to know more about Invisalign, we have all the info you need, so check it out and book an appointment with your dentist.

To many, having a large tongue is not an issue. That is especially if their tongue isn’t preventing them from eating or breathing, which can certainly happen. Also, people are more worried about the overall appearance of their tongue, especially if it starts showing. 

Luckily, treatments are available for this kind of condition, even though it’s rare. Sometimes surgery isn’t needed, but it’s enough to treat the underlying causes of macroglossia. Having an oversized tongue can be scary too, and it can impact your overall health. 

So, let’s talk about causes and symptoms you should be aware of, as well as treatments your doctor can suggest.

What Is Macroglossia?

The first thing you should know about macroglossia is that it’s a rare digestive condition. How come it’s digestive and not oral? That’s because your tongue is a part of the digestive system. Macroglossia is also known as a large tongue because that is the most prominent symptom, followed by a lot of others.

This condition is usually found in children and can cause a lot of harm if left untreated. Not only will these individuals have misaligned teeth and jaws, but they’ll have trouble breathing and processing food. That’s why parents should notify their doctors of any changes to their child’s tongue.

Many people easily write this condition off as an allergic reaction to some foods that will pass. However, you should immediately see a doctor if you notice that your tongue isn’t only enlarged but preventing you from living and functioning normally. 

Remember that macroglossia doesn’t just happen for no reason. There’s always an underlying cause, whether the doctors currently know it or not. Your treatment will also vary depending on the cause, and your tongue can reduce in size once the cause is dealt with.

What Causes Macroglossia?

Macroglossia causes can be divided into two large groups:

  • Congenital
  • Acquired

Knowing which group you belong to will make it easier for you to receive proper treatment. So, how do you differentiate? It’s pretty simple. 

Congenital Causes

Congenital causes are those you’re born with. This can be a genetic disorder or condition passed down in your family. Your parents won’t always present with these disorders, but they can be the carriers. Some of the inherited causes can include disorders, conditions, and syndromes such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • CMD (a group of muscle-affecting genetic disorders)
  • Primary amyloidosis
  • Acromegaly
  • Hunter syndrome

And the list doesn’t end there. As you can notice, a couple of these conditions are related to too many growth hormones or too few thyroid hormones. This can be pretty serious, even though it sounds like something that can be fixed with supplements. So, schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as you notice changes in your child’s tongue.

Acquired Causes

But what if you weren’t born with an enlarged tongue? You can still acquire this condition as an adult. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have a genetic disorder, but there are other causes. In cases of acquired macroglossia, the causes can include:

  • Cancer
  • Inflammations
  • Infections
  • Endocrine disorders

Knowing this can make you worry, especially the cancer bit. Instead, you should remain calm and let your doctor handle the diagnosis. Also, macroglossia can be caused by direct or indirect trauma to the tongue. In this case, it’s a simple tongue swelling that will go away with a simple treatment.

Symptoms of Macroglossia

As you know, not every large tongue is problematic. However, things can be really bad if you have this rare disease. That’s why you need to differentiate between a normal and abnormal large tongue. Knowing the symptoms of macroglossia will help you with that. The symptoms can include:

  • Protruding tongue
  • Difficulty talking, processing food, or breathing
  • Stridor
  • Snoring
  • Drooling
  • Teeth and jaws misalignment
  • Frequent trauma to the tongue (for example, biting)

The easiest way to determine if you have macroglossia or not is by noting whether you have difficulty breathing and eating. Difficulty breathing will cause snoring or a wheezing sound (stridor) that you may not be aware of during sleep, but your partner will be. These symptoms aren’t age-restricted, which means that your teeth can become misaligned even if your macroglossia is acquired.

Risks of Letting Macroglossia Go Untreated

Before we go into treatments for macroglossia, we should briefly discuss the risks of letting this condition go untreated. Naturally, you would think anyone would see a doctor and get immediate treatment for something like this. However, many people can’t or simply don’t think it’s a big deal. Whatever the reason may be, some of the risks of untreated macroglossia include:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Dry mouth
  • Constant infections
  • Speech impairment

Even though macroglossia seems like just a large tongue, you don’t want to let it become more dangerous than it should.

Macroglossia Treatments

Luckily, a plethora of treatments are available for this condition. Your treatment plan depends on the underlying conditions but can include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Wearing braces
  • Medication
  • Surgery

Remember to never ignore any changes happening to your tongue. Trying to diagnose yourself with a possible allergic reaction is never wise. Your doctor is the only professional that can figure out the underlying conditions of your macroglossia and treat you accordingly. This condition doesn’t need to be scary, so act fast as soon as you notice something. That’s the only way to ensure your tongue doesn’t make life difficult.

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