Can Losing Weight Naturally Shrink the Size of My Tongue?

Woman looking in the mirror and sticking tongue out
A woman sticking out her tongue while looking in a mirror. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Losing weight can help shrink the size of many body parts, such as your legs, butt, hips, thighs and stomach, but not your tongue. The size of your tongue has no bearing on weight loss or weight gain. There are, however, certain conditions that can affect the size of your tongue. If you begin to notice changes in the size of your tongue, address these concerns with a licensed medical professional.

Tongue Function

Your tongue is a muscular organ that helps you chew, swallow, talk, sing and taste. Without your tongue, you wouldn’t be able to eat or communicate with others. The front of your tongue has more flexibility to move about than the back of your tongue. Your tongue is held down in your mouth by a tiny, soft piece of skin tissue, known as your frenulum.

Shrinking Tongue

Your tongue grows with the size of your mouth as you develop from infancy throughout adolescence. The only known cause that would make your tongue shrink, as of 2010, is radiofrequency, according to Nelson B. Powell, M.D., in the September 2009 issue of “Clinical and Experimental Otorhinolaryngology.” To shrink the tongue, it would have to have multiple exposures to radiofrequency over the course of four to six weeks. Sometimes this procedure is performed on patients who have sleep apnea, which is a condition where the tongue obstructs the air passageways, causing the sufferer to wake several times per night.

Enlarged Tongue

The only other time the size of your tongue would change is if you had an allergic reaction, which could cause your tongue to swell and become bigger. Certain food allergies, such as fish and shellfish, can cause a tongue to swell. Acromegaly, a syndrome that develops when the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone, could also cause your tongue to become larger than what is considered to be of average size. Hunter syndrome, a genetic disorder, can also cause your tongue to become thicker, along with your nostrils and lips.

Considerations

Before you begin a weight loss program, discuss it with your physician. He may recommend or advise against certain foods, exercises or other weight loss strategies. If you begin to notice changes in your tongue, address these concerns with your physician, as it could indicate an allergic reaction or another condition.

Warning

If your tongue begins to swell after eating a meal, seek prompt medical attention. This could be life threatening. Fish, shellfish, nuts and certain other types of foods can cause your tongue to swell so large that it could block off air passageways, which could be life threatening. This is known as an anaphylactic shock.

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