Causes of Swollen Lips & Face

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Swelling of the lips and face can occur as a result of a number of different conditions. By itself, swelling of the lips and face is not usually harmful and can go away on its own with treatment of the underlying condition. If swelling becomes severe and begins to affect the tongue or throat, it can cause breathing difficulties and an increased risk of complications.

Food Allergy

A food allergy is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly interprets a food as a harmful substance and attacks it by releasing antibodies called immunoglobulin E. The immunoglobulin E triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause the symptoms associated with a food allergy including tingling in the mouths, hives and itching, wheezing, nasal congestion, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness and swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat. MayoClinic.com notes that the most common food allergies include shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and eggs. A minor allergic reaction can be treated with antihistamines, which block histamine and reduce symptoms. Severe allergic reactions, also called anaphylaxis, require an injection with epinephrine and admission to the hospital.

Salivary Gland Infection

The body contains six salivary glands, located in various areas of the mouth. The salivary glands are responsible for providing saliva to the mouth through salivary ducts. A salivary gland infection occurs when one or more of the salivary glands become invaded with bacteria or viruses. The most common causes of a salivary gland infection are poor oral hygiene and an obstruction of the salivary glands, usually from a salivary duct stone, according to Medline Plus. Symptoms include abnormal tastes, dry mouth, decreased range of motion of the mouth, fever, mouth and facial pain, redness on the face and neck and swelling of the face and lips. Some salivary gland infections do not require any treatment. Salt water rinses and good oral hygiene can help reduce symptoms and allow the infection to heal. If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Hypopituitarism

The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the bottom of the brain that is responsible for producing and releasing hormones that aid in proper body functioning. Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland does not produce one or more of its hormones. This results in a disruption in normal body processes and can cause a number of symptoms, including abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue, headaches, low blood pressure, loss of appetite, loss of hair, muscle weakness, nausea, joint stiffness, thirst, vision problems and swelling of the lips and face. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that the most common cause of hypopituitarism is a tumor on the pituitary gland. The tumor exerts excess pressure on the small gland, which causes significant damage. Other causes include head injuries, brain infections, radiation therapy, stroke, tuberculosis and brain surgery. Hypopituitarism can usually be successfully treated by removing the underlying cause. Synthetic hormones may be necessary if normal functioning does not return.

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