What Causes You To Have Bumps On Your Tongue?

The tongue is a body part that you probably don't think about that often, but it is a vital organ that serves more functions than you may realize.

Largely a muscular organ, the tongue anchors to an area in the back of your mouth called the hyoid bone through tough connective tissue and the mucosa. The front part of the tongue is tethered by soft tissue called the frenum. This foundational setup is what supports speech and gives you the ability to chew and swallow food, among other functions. Your tongue also has thousands of taste buds located on the surface of tiny, naturally-occurring bumps, or papillae, that give your tongue its rough texture. Nerve-like properties in your taste buds are what first detect sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami tastes. These signals then travel to the brain through nerve structures in the tongue, giving you the experience of taste, per WebMD.

But this little specialized digestive organ does more than just allow you to taste and speak, it also plays a role in other key functions. For one, a healthy tongue assists in your balance, vision, and hearing, according to the experts at Oral Health Group. Your tongue also supports your breathing by helping to keep your airways open, per Cleveland Clinic.

Your tongue is also a good barometer of your health, so if your tongue is discolored or displays any other atypical characteristics, this could point to an underlying health issue, per Cleveland Clinic.

What those bumps on your tongue might be

When you experience tongue pain or swelling that causes visible bumps or sores, there are various possibilities as to what the underlying health issues could be.

One of the most common reasons you may experience noticeable bumps on your tongue is when you have lie bumps, also known as ​​transient lingual papillitis (TLP), according to the experts at Healthline. Lie bumps are either red or white and form when your papillae become inflamed. Roughly half of us will experience lie bumps during our lifetime. Lie bumps can be irritating, but they aren't serious and typically clear up on their own in a few days.

Getting canker sores on your tongue is also common. While not fully understood, most people report that they experience canker sores after eating certain foods, per MedicalNewsToday.

Another fairly common reason you may have bumps on your tongue can be due to contracting herpes. Oral herpes, a viral infection that is contagious through saliva, can manifest as painful sores on your tongue that can last at least a week. 

However, a potentially more serious reason for those painful bumps on your tongue could be due to syphilis. Syphilis is a bacterial infection typically transmitted during sex. Syphilis is curable but can become life-threatening if not treated, per MedicalNewsToday.

In most cases, tongue bumps are benign, but if growths persist or you develop new lesions, see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options, per Healthline.