Macroglossia: What Is It?
Macroglossia is a medical disorder that causes the patient to have a tongue that is larger than it should be. While that doesn’t seem like it could be a problem on its own, macroglossia does cause a plethora of problems, troubles with eating, chewing, swallowing, and speaking being the most notable ones. What is worse, macroglossia is one of those conditions that mostly affects children.
While macroglossia is no walk in the park, there are many ways to fix and treat it. Braces, speech therapy, surgery, and medication are all common treatment methods for this condition. However, braces are probably the most common treatment method. If you’re interested in learning more about braces and other similar treatments, you can click this link here. Without any further ado, let’s quickly go over the symptoms of macroglossia.
Luckily, many of the symptoms of macroglossia are relatively easy to notice. After all, a large tongue can be easy to spot. However, an oversized or protruding tongue isn’t the only symptom of this condition. Other symptoms include:
- Problems with speaking, breathing, and food processing
- Snoring and other abnormal breathing noises
- Misaligned teeth and jaw
- Continuous trauma to the tongue
It’s important to note that a slightly larger tongue on its own isn’t a symptom of macroglossia. A cause for concern can rear its head if additional symptoms accompany a large tongue. Symptoms that include trouble with eating, breathing, or speaking are red flags and should be discussed with a professional.
One thing about macroglossia is that there are many conditions that it can be a side effect of. Some of these conditions are inherited, while some are acquired throughout a person’s lifetime:
Acquired Conditions That Can Cause Macroglossia
- Hypothyroidism — This condition is caused by the thyroid gland’s inability to release the correct amount of thyroid hormone into the person’s bloodstream. Hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism and is a very common cause of macroglossia among children.
- Diphtheria — This infection is caused by bacteria, and it is oftentimes very severe. A common symptom of Diphtheria is a swollen tongue.
- Amyloidosis — This rare disorder prevents the organs and tissues in your body from functioning properly, and macroglossia is one of the side effects.
- Acromegaly — This condition is also rare, and it essentially causes your body to produce an abnormal amount of growth hormone. It affects many different parts of a person’s body, including the tongue.
Inherited Conditions That Can Cause Macroglossia
- Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome — Similar to Acromegaly, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome is a growth disorder, which means that certain parts of a patient’s body can enlarge. Unfortunately, this condition can also affect some internal organs and leave the rest of the body unaffected, making it hard to diagnose. It can vary when it comes to severity, and it is usually diagnosed in children. A common symptom of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome is an oversized tongue.
- Hurler/Hunter syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis) — This condition isn’t actually a condition in the strictest sense of the word. More accurately, it’s a group of different diseases attacking the body in tandem. It often leads to an inability to break down sugar molecules, which can affect various body functions. Many patients diagnosed with this syndrome also suffer from macroglossia.
- Down syndrome – Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes individuals to be born with an additional chromosome, many of which also suffer from macroglossia.
Tumors That Can Cause Macroglossia
Sometimes macroglossia isn’t caused by acquired or inherited conditions. At times, tumors are the main culprit behind it, and as you can probably guess, those forming near the tongue are usually responsible for macroglossia. Lymphangioma, Lymphoma, and Hemangioma are all tumors that macroglossia can be a side effect of. Lymphangioma and Hemangioma are benign tumors, while Lymphoma is a cancerous tumor.
Macroglossia is not untreatable, and we have many different methods at our disposal. Actually, it sometimes doesn’t need to be treated at all. In certain cases, children are known to outgrow macroglossia. That happens when the bones in their faces start growing and become proportional to their tongues. But, when macroglossia won’t disappear on its own, these are the treatment methods you can consider:
- Speech Therapy — Since macroglossia often causes problems with speaking, speech therapy can actually be a viable way of treating it. However, this form of treatment is usually reserved for milder cases of macroglossia and is not helpful for more severe cases of the disorder.
- Medication Therapy — Medications are also a macroglossia treatment method, however, this method is aimed towards patients whose macroglossia is caused by a hormone imbalance, hence, the medications are a form of hormone therapy.
- Braces — Braces are probably the most popular way to treat an oversized tongue. In fact, taking the orthodontics route is a viable treatment method for macroglossia. However, most professionals don’t recommend just any braces. Invisalign and other clear braces are generally the number one choice because they are healthier than metal alternatives and are also more efficient in what they do. They will also fix additional dental problems that usually accompany macroglossia. Also, your Invisalign dentist will be able to tell you how long you’ll have to wear the braces.
- Surgery — Sometimes, severe cases of macroglossia can’t be helped by any of the treatment methods listed above. Such cases of macroglossia prevent the patient from breathing and eating normally, which makes surgery the only viable treatment method. However, the surgical procedure itself is a simple one, and you’ll be able to recover fully in just a few weeks.
Macroglossia: What Happens if You Don’t Get Treatment?
Leaving macroglossia untreated is never a good idea, even with milder cases. If you do decide to avoid seeing a doctor, you might experience some of the following side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Speech problems
- Recurrent infections