Tongue Abscess

By | June 10, 2022

A tongue abscess is an inflammatory disease in the area of ​​the tongue or the base of the tongue. It is usually caused by germs that cause the abscess through a wound in the mucous membrane. This often has to be treated surgically if it cannot be adequately achieved with medication.

What is a tongue abscess?

A tongue abscess is an infection in the mouth caused by bacteria. As the name suggests, the tongue or the base of the tongue is affected; Under certain circumstances, however, the abscess can also form in the floor of the mouth below the tongue. For basal cell carcinoma definition and meaning, please visit

It is usually caused by a wound in the oral mucosa, into which germs can get when eating, for example. The infection then leads to the unpleasant tongue abscess. The disease is manifested by a reddened mucous membrane, difficulty swallowing and fever. Difficulty breathing can occur later when the abscess reaches a certain size.

A tongue abscess is usually initially treated with medication; however, a surgical intervention often has to be carried out afterwards. In principle, the disease is harmless, but it can become life-threatening if it progresses untreated and/or if complications arise.


The causes of a tongue abscess lie in bacteria that penetrate the oral mucosa and cause an infection there. This happens, for example, when there is a small wound in the oral mucosa.

When eating, germs can get into this wound and multiply there, leading to inflammation and eventual formation of a tongue abscess. If there are already diseases in the mouth or in surrounding areas, germs resident there can also be the trigger for an abscess.

Inflamed tooth roots or otherwise diseased teeth are often responsible for a tongue abscess, as are inflamed lymph nodes in the neck area. Inflammation of the mandibular salivary glands can also cause a tongue abscess.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A tongue abscess is a collection of pus that gets trapped in a cavity. If this phenomenon occurs in the oral cavity, the affected person suffers from severe pain. With the naked eye you can usually only see a small blister under the tongue, which is filled with pus fluid.

If the affected person opts for medical and drug treatment, the abscess and the associated symptoms will slowly subside. However, if such a treatment is not carried out at this point, the pain that occurs will increase considerably. The abscess will increase in size and the pus will also increase, making a visit to the doctor essential.

In such a case, the symptoms will intensify, so that the pain will increase significantly. The pressure in the cavity increases, so there is a risk of blood poisoning. If the pus sac bursts, the bacteria enter the bloodstream. Symptoms such as dizziness, circulatory problems or nausea occur, which should also be treated by a doctor or even as an inpatient. A tongue abscess has obvious and definite symptoms that should always be treated by a doctor. If this does not take place, then a considerable worsening of the individual symptoms can be expected.

Diagnosis & History

If there is a suspicion of a tongue abscess, the doctor treating you will first examine the throat and pharynx to see whether there is an abscess there and, if so, where exactly it is located.

A mirror is used for this. If not everything is clearly recognizable in this way, the doctor can use an endoscope with which he can also penetrate into areas that are difficult to reach. A swab of the inflamed mucosa provides information about the exact pathogen.

In addition, a blood test can be carried out to rule out other diseases such as a tumor. If left untreated, a tongue abscess can cause numerous uncomfortable symptoms. If it reaches a certain size, it can cause breathing difficulties and, in the worst case, death by suffocation.


If a tongue abscess is left untreated for a long period of time, it can lead to problems with breathing and eating, among other things. In extreme cases, the patient suffocates due to the lack of oxygen supply. The tongue abscess itself occasionally causes inflammation in the mouth, from which further abscesses can form.

If the pathogens get into the lungs, pneumonia can occur. Transmission into the blood can cause blood poisoning, which can be fatal if left untreated. Furthermore, an abscess leads to fever and a general feeling of illness that severely restricts the affected person’s quality of life. Since speaking is hardly possible, everyday tasks and social interaction with others can hardly be mastered.

This can lead to problems, especially in the case of chronic abscesses, since the affected person then often withdraws and may develop a mental illness. The treatment of a tongue abscess with antibiotics carries the risk of side effects and interactions, for example headaches, muscle and body aches or skin irritations. Surgery can cause injuries, infections, wound healing disorders and other complications. In most cases, however, the treatment proceeds without major problems.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should be consulted as soon as there are changes in the tongue area. In the case of swelling, the development of ulcers or other changes in the tissue, you should consult a doctor. If there is pain, changes in tongue movement or an uncomfortable feeling in the mouth, there is cause for concern. If there is an unusual taste in the mouth, the formation of pus, changes in the teeth or a refusal to eat, a doctor is needed. Other symptoms include dizziness, heart rhythm disturbances, nausea or vomiting.

If these irregularities persist for several days or if they increase, the affected person needs medical care. Sensitivity disorders in the mouth, hypersensitivity to everyday stimuli such as heat or cold and inconsistencies when wearing dentures are among the symptoms that need to be examined and clarified.

Loss of appetite, changes in speech and the refusal to speak indicate a health problem. A change in behavior, a general feeling of illness and problems sleeping should be discussed with a doctor. If pus enters the bloodstream, a life-threatening condition can develop. Therefore, cooperation with a doctor should be sought at the first irregularities and health problems.

Treatment & Therapy

If a tongue abscess has been clearly diagnosed, the attending physician will initiate appropriate therapy. Since this is a bacterial infection, it is usually treated with antibiotics.

In many cases, however, this therapy does not work or only works insufficiently, so that an operation must be carried out. This is especially the case when the infection has become so established in the tissue that it cannot be eliminated with medication. During the operation, the inflamed tissue around the tongue abscess is removed generously to prevent the infection from breaking out again.

Antibiotics are then administered again to support the healing process and also to counteract a resurgence of the inflammation. If such a combination of drug and surgical treatment takes place, a tongue abscess can usually be cured very easily. Rapid healing also depends, among other things, on the stage of the abscess at which therapy is started. It is therefore advisable to consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear.


Tongue abscess can be prevented to some extent by proper oral hygiene. Regular check-ups and/or treatments at the dentist can also prevent diseased teeth from introducing germs into the oral mucosa. However, if there are symptoms that could indicate a tongue abscess, a doctor should be consulted in good time.


As a rule, the person affected with a tongue abscess has only very few measures and options for direct aftercare available, so that the person affected with this disease should ideally consult a doctor at an early stage and initiate treatment. As a rule, it cannot heal on its own, so that a visit to a doctor is always necessary.

Those affected themselves are usually dependent on taking various medications to limit and alleviate the symptoms of this disease. The correct dosage and regular intake should always be observed in order to counteract the symptoms properly and permanently. If anything is unclear or you have any questions, you should always consult a doctor first.

Furthermore, when taking antibiotics, it should also be noted that they should not be taken together with alcohol in order not to reduce their effect. As a rule, a tongue abscess can be healed relatively well, so that this disease does not lead to a reduced life expectancy for those affected.

You can do that yourself

A tongue abscess is usually noticeable in everyday life. But even if the pain is severe, the wound should never be touched with fingers, handkerchiefs or other aids. The abscess must not be broken open voluntarily by the patient. This should always be done by a doctor. Otherwise, there is a risk of serious infection and other complications.

For this reason, the affected person should also be careful when brushing their teeth. Spicy oral care products or irritating foods should be avoided. It is also advisable to stop smoking until the wound has healed, or at least to drastically reduce it. Rinsing your mouth with oil or antibacterial mouthwash helps to relieve an unpleasant taste or smell from the buildup of pus. However, this should not be used too often, as it irritates the mucous membranes.

Wound healing can be promoted by a number of measures. So it can be helpful to occasionally put a piece of garlic on the wound, which can reduce the swelling. Salt has a similar effect. For this reason, treating the tongue abscess with a saline solution can sometimes help. In the short term, placing ice cubes on top can relieve the pain and feeling of pressure.

Tongue Abscess