Myth: It is possible to swallow your tongue.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to swallow your tongue. Well, unless of course if you cut it off and then swallowed it… In any event, the tongue is rooted to the floor of the mouth by the lingual frenulum. This makes getting the tongue far enough back in the throat to actually swallow it and get it stuck impossible.
Also contrary to popular belief, one of the worst things a person can try to do for a someone having a seizure is to try to jam something in their mouth to hold their tongue down. They aren’t going to swallow their tongue and someone trying to jam something in their mouth is very likely going to end up injuring them and, depending on what the person used, the seizure victim might just choke on what was jammed in their mouth. The person trying to force the thing in their mouth can also end up getting their fingers bitten severely, if they aren’t careful, and it’s hard to be careful when someone’s jerking about.
Depending on the size of someone’s tongue and where the lingual frenulum is attached, it is possible for a person having a seizure to have temporary blocking of the airway from the tongue; when they are having a seizure, the tongue can fully relax and fall back. However, this isn’t particularly a problem while they are having a seizure as breathing is usually suppressed anyways. It can be a little bit of a problem when the seizure is over and their breathing resumes. However, a more likely choking hazard for someone having a seizure or unconscious is the person’s own bodily fluids, including saliva and vomit, which they may breathe in once their breathing resumes; this can cause them to choke on these fluids, due to a suppressed coughing reflex while they are unconscious.
In these cases though, all you have to do is turn them on their side. The tongue will then naturally fall to the side of their mouth (gravity works!) and their bodily fluids won’t run back down their throat, in both cases, freeing up the airway.
For a seizure victim, rolling them on their left side is the preferred position. I was not able to ascertain why this was the case, but it was recommended by the epilepsy foundation.You should also never try to restrain the person having a seizure. Roll them on their left side and then move objects away from them, so that they don’t injure themselves on those objects. But otherwise, you just have to let the seizure run its course.The lingual frenulum is the small mucous membrane that extends from the floor of the mouth to the mid-line of the tongue.In some people, this lingual frenulum can be so restrictive, in terms of restricting the movement of the tongue, that they can have trouble speaking. When this happens, it is known as Ankyloglossia, or “tongue-tie”. Often these people cannot even extend the tip of their tongue beyond their front teeth. This is particularly a problem for babies with this condition as they have trouble breast feeding, thus trouble taking in enough food.The base of the lingual frenlum contains tissue that has a series of saliva glands on it. The two largest of these are called the Wharton’s Ducts and are in the front.The tongue isn’t just one muscle, as many people say, “the strongest muscle… etc.” In fact, it’s made up of many muscles, which allows for the great range of movement most people have with it, with the muscles running in different directions.As you age, the number of taste buds you have tend to diminish. An average child is born with about 10,000 taste buds. An average elderly person only has about 5,000. This is partially why many kids hate vegetables so much. Vegetables can be very bitter to “super tasters” or those close to that. As you age and your taste buds diminish, this bitter flavor goes away somewhat and changes the taste of the vegetables dramatically in the process.The tongue never really gets a rest. Even while you are sleeping it is constantly pushing saliva into the throat, making sure you don’t drool all over your pillows.
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