, , , ,

Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to swallow your tongue. 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. The lingual frenulum is the small mucous membrane that extends from the floor of the mouth to the mid-line of the tongue. This makes getting the tongue far enough back in the throat to actually swallow it impossible.

The lingual frenulum makes swallowing your tongue impossible

While we’re on the topic, 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 (as they supposedly might choke on it). This 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 best thing to do in this case is to just let the person seize, as scary as this may be, while protecting their head etc. from impact. They aren’t going to swallow their tongue.

You can’t swallow your tongue, but it can still get in the way during a seizure. This is a proper position to place a seizing person in to prevent choking on fluids.

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 their airway temporarily blocked by a fully relaxed tongue. However, this isn’t particularly a problem while they are having a seizure as breathing is usually suppressed. It can become a problem when the seizure is over and their breathing resumes. A more likely choking hazard for someone having a seizure is the person’s own bodily fluids, including saliva and vomit, which they may breathe in once their breathing resumes, due to a suppressed coughing reflex. To prevent this, a seizing person should be turned on their side [see above picture].

Bonus Science Stuff:

  • For a seizure victim, rolling them on their left side is the preferred position (recommended by a epilepsy foundation).
  • You should also never try to restrain ta 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. However scary it may be, you just have to let the seizure run its course.
  • 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-tied”. 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 tongue isn’t just one muscle, as many people say. 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.
  • 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.

[Reposted (with editing) from Misconception Junction]