ZocdocAnswersIs there a reason why my tongue would swell up at night?

Question

Is there a reason why my tongue would swell up at night?

I am a 27 year old male and otherwise in perfect health, but my tongue swells at night while I?m sleeping. I?ll wake up and its just swollen. Is this normal? Could this be a symptom of something else?

Answer

This is an interesting problem to have, as it is not a common complaint in the ENT's office. Especially if you truly are getting tongue swelling that occurs every night. I would love to get more information from you about your medical history, and examine you (especially your tongue), but that will have to be done at a visit to an otolaryngologist (Ears, Nose, Throat, aka ENT doctor). There are medical conditions such as sarcoidosis where the tongue can become swollen and stay that way for a prolonged period of time, however it doesn't make any sense to me that it would fluctuate every evening. There are also acute processes (such as angioedema) that can cause tongue swelling, but this isn't typically recurrent, and definitely not a daily process. My best guess (without being able to ask any more questions) is that you may be a mouth breather when you sleep (not sure if you snore, or if you have nasal obstructive symptoms) and your mouth and tongue dry out at night which may either cause a mild swelling, or perhaps just the sensation that your tongue is swollen when you wake up. I would recommend going to an ENT's office and they will be able to perform a thorough exam, and take a good history. They will likely ask you questions about whether or not you have sleep apnea which may be part of the mouth breathing if that is in fact what is going on. Best of luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.