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Mouth Diseases

Rash on tongue

03/01/2005

Question:

The bumps on the back of my tongue are very swollen creating a slight problem with swallowing, mostly the rubbing involved. Is this something associated with strep throat or an infection similar.

Answer:

Without doing an examination, it is difficult to say what the problem is. There are normal "bumps" on the back of the tongue called "circumvallate papillae". Most people have 6 to 8 of these lined up in a row across the back of the tongue, and usually these circumvallate papillae can't be seen unless a person sticks their tongue out really far. These are normal structures that everyone is born with, but they may not be noticed until later in life when a person might have a sore throat, stick their tongue out, and look at it in a mirror with good lighting. These bumps are not a sign of infection, but if you have some tenderness on swallowing, you could have either an irritation or infection in that area.

Most throat infections are caused by viruses, and the problem clears up on its own within a week or two. Antibiotics will not help cure a viral infection. If you have recently been in contact with someone with strep throat, or if you develop severe throat pain and fever, it would be a good idea to see your doctor to make sure you don't have strep throat.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University