Can a stroke cause a swelled tongue?

Gowilla18 asked...

My mother suffered an hemorrhagic stroke. Three days later her tongue was swollen and hanging out of her mouth. It has been over two months and the tongue is still swollen. I think it's an allergic reactions to one of her medicines, and I'm trying to convince the doctor to change her medicine, but he insists on doing a tongue reduction surgery. I say no because it would be defeating the purpose if the medicine is causing the swelling. Could the stroke cause tongue swelling?

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

I would agree with your assessment - that an allergic reaction to one of the medicines a very plausible explanation. Strokes can cause weakness of the tongue, but not swelling. The one exception to this is if the tongue is sticking farther out of the mouth than it had before, and therefore looks "swollen", even though it is not truly any bigger.

I think you are absolutely correct in wanting the medications changed first before going with a surgery. I would identify which medications have been started since the stroke, and try to change them one at a time to a different option. Virtually all medications given for stroke treatment have an alternative. I would go through them one at a time with your physician and have them changed (probably best to change only one at a time so you know which medication was the culprit). If your doctor does not wish to proceed with this plan, I would get a second opinion.

Good luck!