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Inside Swollen Cheek


Medical Conditions

Other Causes

Overview and Causes of Cheek Swelling

Cheek swelling is a condition characterized by the enlargement or puffiness observed in one or both cheeks. This symptom may develop gradually or appear suddenly, depending on its cause.

Several factors can lead to cheek swelling, each indicating a different origin or issue.

  • Infections: A common cause is an infection, such as a tooth abscess, which occurs when bacteria enter the pulp inside a tooth leading to pus formation. Sinus infections can also cause cheek swelling due to their proximity to the cheeks.
  • Trauma: Physical injuries to the face, such as a blow during sports activities or accidents, often result in immediate swelling.
  • Allergic Reactions: Swollen cheeks can occur as a result of allergic reactions known as angioedema; this occurs when exposure to allergens like certain foods, pollen, or medication triggers an overreaction by the body’s immune system.
  • Medical Conditions: Various diseases, including mumps (a viral infection) and autoimmune disorders like lupus, where the body mistakenly attacks its tissues causing inflammation and fluid retention, can result in swollen cheeks.

Cheek swelling, when accompanied by severe pain, fever, or difficulty in breathing or swallowing, highlights the need for a thorough evaluation to determine the underlying cause.

Preeclampsia, Cellulitis, and Anaphylaxis: Specific Conditions Causing Cheek Swelling

Cheek swelling can be indicative of various conditions with differing levels of severity, including preeclampsia, cellulitis, and anaphylaxis. Each condition requires a unique approach for identification and management.

  • Preeclampsia is a complication observed in pregnancy after 20 weeks, marked by elevated blood pressure and potential signs of liver or kidney damage. This condition may lead to facial swelling, including the cheeks, and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as severe headaches, changes in vision, and upper abdominal pain.

  • Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that affects the deeper layers of the skin and the tissues underneath. When it occurs on the face or around the cheek area, it can cause noticeable swelling that may feel tender or hot to the touch. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, and without prompt intervention, the bacteria can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, leading to serious complications.

  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that may include cheek swelling among its various symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, hives, and a rapid heart rate. This condition is considered an emergency and is usually treated with epinephrine to prevent life-threatening consequences.

Understanding these conditions is crucial for recognizing their manifestations, including cheek swelling. Early identification facilitates easier management of the conditions discussed.

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Dental issues often lead to cheek swelling, including a condition known as pericoronitis. This condition arises when the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth becomes swollen and infected, predominantly affecting young adults during the emergence of their wisdom teeth.

Pericoronitis occurs when a wisdom tooth partially erupts through the gum, creating an opening that allows bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Painful, swollen gums
  • Difficulty swallowing or opening the mouth
  • Occasionally, a bad taste resulting from pus leaking from the gums.

Good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing dental problems. This includes:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing daily
  • Regular dental check-ups to maintain cleanliness and detect any early signs of issues.

In cases of cheek swelling or suspected pericoronitis, the use of warm salt water can help reduce inflammation. It is also important to avoid disturbing the affected area.

Prompt attention to dental issues can help in preventing more serious complications such as spreading infections.

Mumps, Injury, and Hypothyroidism: Various Reasons for Cheek Enlargement

Cheek enlargement can occur for several reasons, including mumps, injury, and hypothyroidism, each with distinct characteristics and treatments.

Mumps is a viral infection known for causing painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), leading to pronounced cheek enlargement. This contagious disease often affects children but can also occur in adults who are unvaccinated. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

before the characteristic swelling appears. Vaccination is key to prevention, and treatment focuses on relieving symptoms since specific antiviral therapy for mumps does not exist.

Injuries to the face may lead to cheek swelling due to trauma from accidents or sports-related impacts. Swelling occurs as part of the body's natural response to injury, involving inflammation and fluid accumulation in tissue spaces. Treatment varies depending on severity and commonly includes:

  • Ice application initially followed by heat after 48 hours
  • Pain relief medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, can cause facial puffiness including enlarged cheeks. Other symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Sluggishness
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Slow heart rate
  • Depression

Diagnosis involves blood tests to measure levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4). Treatment typically involves taking synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine daily with the dose adjusted based on regular monitoring of blood test results.

Each of these conditions contributes to cheek enlargement in different ways, highlighting the importance of understanding the underlying causes to address the associated symptoms.