But I don't want trout lips..
August 4, 2008 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I know you aren't my doctor, but why are my lips swelling up?

Last week I experienced some unusual swelling in my upper and lower lips. It started as brief, itchy stabs of minor pain (as best I can describe it), then swelling of the inner lower lip, followed by the same on the top. It went away after a few hours, didn't hurt at all, just kind of itched a bit in a way that made me want to chew my lips.

No other symptoms, no tongue swelling, no redness, just puffy lips.

It's happening again now, oddly enough. I have no known allergies, I have eaten nothing unusual (same as last time), and I haven't been doing anything different or changed any products in my day to day life.

I have had the weird itchy feeling now and again since the first time but it hasn't caused swelling. This sensation is on the outer lip, close to where my lips meet.

It sounds a bit like herpes zoster from what I read, but I've never had a coldsore, and it doesn't have any sores, just this swelling.

I will be going to the doctor, but not in the next couple of days. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

In the meantime I will tell people who ask that I've had collagen injections, just to see if they fall for it.
posted by tomble to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
A similar thing happened to me a few months ago -- my lips felt (but didn't look) huge. I asked two friends who are both in med school and they said likely it was just an allergic reaction, probably from something I ate. They also said that it's difficult to figure out the cause of most allergic reactions and gave a very high percentage for unknown causes (something like 90%, but don't quote me on that). For the record, I'm not allergic to any foods - that I know of, anyway - and don't remember eating anything out of the ordinary. You could probably take an anti-histamine if you think it might help.
posted by pised at 6:01 PM on August 4, 2008


Have you been eating mango? Sucking on the skin? Many people have an allergic reaction, including itching and swelling, to mango skin. (Seriously.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:17 PM on August 4, 2008


Once my bottom lip swelled up like this. I had eaten nothing out of the ordinary, and had eaten nothing that I haven't eaten a million times since. An urgent care doctor gave me some sort of allergy-suppressant shot, but this hadn't happened to me before, and it has never happened since.

For whatever it's worth, I had a gigantic pimple on the underside of my lip at the same time - in that little dimple directly beneath the center of the lower lip. The pimple decreased dramatically in size, along with the rest of my lip, in the aftermath of the shot. I've always wondered if that pimple caused it all. Maybe you have a pimple, too?
posted by Coatlicue at 6:20 PM on August 4, 2008


A similar thing happened to me a few months ago -- my lips felt (but didn't look) huge. I asked two friends who are both in med school and they said likely it was just an allergic reaction, probably from something I ate. They also said that it's difficult to figure out the cause of most allergic reactions and gave a very high percentage for unknown causes (something like 90%, but don't quote me on that). For the record, I'm not allergic to any foods - that I know of, anyway - and don't remember eating anything out of the ordinary. You could probably take an anti-histamine if you think it might help.

This exact same thing happened to me just last week while I was drinking a beer. The idea of being allergic to beer in general is something I find downright repugnant, so I switched to another brand after popping a Benadryl and everything was A-OK.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:21 PM on August 4, 2008


My ex-girl friend got swollen lips after she used some Chinese spices/flavors.
I guess it would be no additional risk to take an allergy medication.

IANAD
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2008


Pised - I will try the antihistamine and see what happens! I haven't eaten since breakfast, hours ago, and I ate the same cereal I ususally eat.

Omiewise - no mangos, and I eat quite a few of them when they're in season with no effect.
posted by tomble at 6:27 PM on August 4, 2008


This is a pretty good description of what happens to me when I'm exposed to some types of perfume or incense. It's a mild allergic reaction and could be to pretty much anything in your environment, not necessarily something you ate. Also my reactions have gotten a lot more common as I've got older and I react to lots of stuff now that I didn't notice five years ago, so a previous negative reaction doesn't necessarily rule out a current allergy.

It's definitely worth getting it checked out by the doctor because you don't want to end up having anaphalactic reactions (incense gives me a very mild form of anaphalaxis) and because it could well be something else.
posted by shelleycat at 6:28 PM on August 4, 2008


You don't say how old you are. It is quite common to develop new food reactions in your late teens/early twenties. I suddenly developed a milk/dairy products intolerance at that age. It made my lips swell in exactly the way that you describe. No other symptoms. The itching/swelling on the inside of the lower lip first is making me bet it is a food intolerance (as this is where the food comes into contact most with your skin - then the reaction spreads to the rest of your lips.
posted by Susurration at 6:54 PM on August 4, 2008


This has happened to me with sun exposure (even with sunblock on) -- not always, but occasionally after exposure to the sun, my lips become extremely sensitive and swell up like crazy (sometimes also accompanied by small bumps, but sometimes not). A few days to a week of the mediciney Blistex/Carmex stuff usually resolves it.
posted by mothershock at 7:02 PM on August 4, 2008


Have you recently switched dishwashing detergent?
posted by macadamiaranch at 7:41 PM on August 4, 2008


Try taking a Benadryl and see if they go down. Bananas, some canteloupe, and honey does this to me.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:20 PM on August 4, 2008


this happens to me ALL OF THE TIME, with no discernible reason. my lips don't swell up, it's more of the skin above or below my lips, and it's usually just a small patch. i have no idea what causes it -- i'm also not allergic to anything, and there's no pattern of food or anything. i thought i was just weird, and i'm really glad to see i'm not the only one. :)
posted by kerning at 8:47 PM on August 4, 2008


Been eating zucchini? It'll do, to some, almost exactly what you describe.
posted by bz at 10:26 PM on August 4, 2008


My friend had these exact symptoms (and you, Kerning), - very occasional, plus a general feeling of fatigue, and it turns out his thyroid had packed in - but they did check for allergies too.

If I recall correctly, the swelling was caused by an overdose of the hormone from his overworked pituitary gland, at times of particular overexertion.
posted by cogat at 10:37 PM on August 4, 2008


FWIW, if it were a herpes thing, you would have the the cold sore/fever blister within about a day of the sensation. You can randomly get them when you haven't before, though. My mom is in her 50s and she only got one ever, in her 40s.
posted by Nattie at 11:34 PM on August 4, 2008


Well, I took an antihistamine and had no great effect, in fact it started on the other side of my mouth for a bit. But, about four hours later I can tell that it's going down. Still a bit of an itch on my lips but it seems the worst is past (I hope!).

Whether this is related to the antihistamine or not I don't know, the last time it happened it took about four hours to stop, so this is about the same time frame.

It felt a lot like the sensation of the fat lip when you get an injection at the dentist, except in this case it was actually fat and not that numb.

Haven't eaten any of the things listed above though. Weird!
posted by tomble at 11:54 PM on August 4, 2008


This happened to me recently and I thought maybe it was due to some new lip gloss I'd been using or something--then my dentist dad said maybe I was allergic to my toothpaste! I said I'd been using the same kind for years, and he told me that he's seen people develop toothpaste allergies. I stopped using the lip gloss and changed toothpastes and it went away--I'm still not sure which is was, but apparently it's possible to become allergic to toothpaste,
posted by leesh at 4:36 AM on August 5, 2008


Sounds like it might be a particular viral infection that I tend to get over the winter. See a doctor, confirm the diagnosis (obviously, I can't tell for sure, I'm not an MD, etc.), and get the ointment for it. I sure wish I could remember the name of the stuff.

(MeFi mail me if you're curious, and I'll raid my medicine cabinet tonight so I can re-learn the name.)
posted by Citrus at 7:08 AM on August 5, 2008


Followup - kind of funny seeing the previous poster's name - I seem to have developed a citrus allergy! This is almost completely confirmed since I had dinner the other night with a bit of lemon juice in it, and bingo, next day - swollen lips again!

Sigh. I will have to save my grapefruit eating for times when I'm not going out for 24 hours!
posted by tomble at 5:16 AM on September 7, 2008


Followup to my followup. Not citrus. Hooray! Appears to be utterly non food related. Mysterious!
posted by tomble at 9:51 PM on October 20, 2008


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