A large or too large tongue is referred to in the medical community with the term Macroglossia designated. A further distinction is made between the congenital and the large tongue acquired later in life. The tongue does not always have to be associated with a disease value, but it can mean a reduction in quality of life and an indication of an underlying disease.
Causes a large tongue
As a rule, the large tongue is an expression of an underlying disease. Typical diseases are a general tall stature, also called gigantism. Here people become taller than the normal average in their overall appearance. The extent, however, is very variable.
A second common possibility is what is known as acromegaly. A disease that causes the hands, feet, ears, but also the tongue to enlarge. A pituitary gland tumor, which produces growth hormones in an uncontrolled manner, is almost always responsible. However, these no longer affect the bony skeleton, since the growth plates are already closed, but ensure the growth of soft tissue.
Large tongue diagnosis
The diagnosis of a tongue that is too large is a subjective visual diagnosis. There are no objective measurement criteria as to when a tongue is considered too big.
However, this statement should be followed by the question of the cause.
As already mentioned at the beginning, the tongue can either be enlarged just like the rest of the body since birth, or it can only enlarge in the course of life. If hands, feet, ears and other parts of the body are also affected, a pituitary gland tumor can be assumed. This suspicion must then either be confirmed or ruled out.
The large tongue itself is already part of a complex of symptoms that suggest an underlying condition. Symptoms for a large tongue are quite subjective and mostly your own feeling that the tongue feels too big or takes up too much space in the mouth. With this feeling, a look in the mirror will likely confirm the assumption.
But as already mentioned above, the large tongue itself is usually only part of a whole series of other symptoms that indicate a causal disease. In most cases, it appears paired with slowly emerging large hands, large feet and large ears, and a large nose. These changes are usually not noticed because the increase in size extends over several years. People who have not been met for a long time usually say that the body parts in question have enlarged disproportionately.
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Lateral dents in the tongue
The side marks on the edge of the tongue are a typical accompanying phenomenon and indicate that the tongue is “too big” for the mouth. It is simply the imprints of the canine and molar teeth on the tongue.
If it gets bigger, it automatically presses itself against the teeth and can penetrate deeper into the interdental spaces than on the tooth surfaces, whereby a negative impression of one's own teeth is created on the tongue. They are not dangerous in themselves, but if you keep rubbing your tongue against your teeth, you can rub your tongue sore.
This is how it is treated
The large tongue as such cannot be treated. Surgical reduction of the tongue is not practiced, but treatment of the causative disease is carried out.
For example, if the tongue is swollen as a result of inflammation or infection, the inflammation will be treated. If the underlying disease is a pituitary gland tumor that manifests itself as acromegaly, this tumor must be treated.
The only symptomatic therapy specifically for the tongue - if it is swollen due to inflammation - would be sucking or chewing ice or ice cubes.
What are the consequences of a tongue that is too big?
The most common described consequence of an oversized tongue is sleep apnea syndrome. Due to the size of the tongue, it is easy for her to “fall” back into her throat while sleeping, thereby obstructing the airway and breathing. As a result, there is an insufficient supply of oxygen to the blood and, as a result, an insufficient supply of the heart and the brain.
However, the body has various mechanisms by which it can control the oxygen content of the blood. If the body realizes that there is not enough oxygen in the blood, one is woken up to reflexively gasp for air. This in turn results in a hardly restful sleep and a significant increase in the stress level.
Studies have also shown that sleep apnea syndrome can be a harbinger of cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack or stroke.
Learn about the Therapy of sleep apnea.
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