A common scenario in the doctor’s office might play out as follows: a sore throat sends you to the doctor, and you want to know what’s going on.
The doctor asks you to open your mouth, and they take a look in there with a tongue depressor.
Most of the time, the doctor says that there’s just a little inflammation, and it’s nothing to worry about.
But other times, there may be a red or white bump in the back of the throat that can signal a serious health problem.
What Are the Causes of Bumps in the Back of the Throat?
Are bumps in the back of the throat normal? Bumps in the back of the throat are an indication of a certain type of throat irritation, which itself is a sign that your body is creating mucus to help fight an infection. Bumps in the back of the throat symptoms will often show up as swollen lymph nodes in the neck, a fever, and a pain in the throat. Besides an infection, there are several potential causes of those bumps in the back of your throat, including:
1. Strep Throat
Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection that causes swelling and inflammation at the back of the throat and tonsils. The person may experience red dots on the back of the throat around the roof of the mouth. Other strep throat symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, a high fever, throat pain, and problems swallowing food. White patches on the back of the throat are another sign of tonsil swelling and strep throat.
2. Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones, or tonsiloliths, are specks of white in the back of the throat that are difficult to spot. Symptoms of tonsil stones include a painful throat, issues with swallowing food, a metallic taste in the mouth, and bad breath. Tonsil stones result from bacteria, mucus, or food getting lodged in the crevices of the tonsils at the back of your throat.
Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is located back of the throat. Pharyngitis is often simply called a sore throat. There are several bacterial and viral causes of pharyngitis, including a common cold, the flu, whooping cough, chickenpox, measles, and mononucleosis. The usual pharyngitis symptoms include a runny nose, chills, tiredness, frequent sneezing, a severe headache, and swollen tonsils that look like red dots on back of throat.
4. Throat Herpes
Oral herpes is often caused by herpes simplex virus type 1, and sores usually appear on the lips before spreading to the mouth and the back of the throat. The condition causes white patches back of throat that can lead to blisters on the mouth and lips.
5. Oral Candidiasis
What does it mean when there are white pockets in the throat? It can indicate oral candidiasis, which is also called oral thrush. Yeast will manifest in the form of white spots inside your cheeks. At this time there is usually no pain, but advanced oral candidiasis can spread to the tonsils, and as a result you will get bumps on the back of the tongue and throat.
Infectious mononucleosis, mono, is a condition which includes symptoms such as a sore throat, a high fever, and swollen lymph glands. Mono will cause the throat to turn dark red, and the back of the throat is also covered with white spots. Other symptoms associated with mono include headaches, fatigue, and a skin rash. The condition is often the result of the Epstein-Barr virus.
A key symptom associated with tonsillitis is the appearance of white patches at the back of the throat. Other symptoms include swollen tonsils, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, and tender lymph nodes in the neck. Tonsillitis is the result of bacterial or viral infections.
8. Postnasal Drip
Postnasal drip will result when mucus runs down from the nose to the back of the throat. A heavy flow of mucus can irritate the throat, and lead to red bumps and inflammation. Potential causes of postnasal drip include allergies, colds, the flu, sinus infections, or a deviated septum.
9. Syphilis Infections
A syphilis infection, caused by the Treponema pallidum bacteria, can also lead to white or red spots at the back of the throat. Other symptoms of syphilis include joint pain, body sores, fatigue, sore throat, hair loss, weight loss, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and a non-itchy rash. Genital and anal wart-like sores may also appear.
10. Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is also called a hay fever, and its symptoms are similar to the common cold. Allergic rhinitis is often triggered from pollen and pet dander, and symptoms include frequent sneezing, a runny nose and postnasal drip, and itchy eyes, nose, ears, and throat. The throat irritation can sometimes cause red bumps.
11. Streptococcal Angina
The symptoms of streptococcal angina include bumps or white spots in the back of the throat, severe fatigue, a high fever, and an itchy throat pain from eating. Streptococcal angina is thought to cause joint issues and heart problems. The condition is considered serious, and it can lead to rheumatism and a rheumatic fever.
12. HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer
Most of the time, human papillomavirus (HPV) is harmless and will go away on its own. However, HPV can cause oropharyngeal cancer (1), which affects an area at the base of the tonsils and tongue called the oropharynx. Oropharyngeal bumps in back of throat from HPV is accompanied by other symptoms, including earaches, hoarseness, a persistent sore throat, unexplained weight loss, and pain from swallowing.
13. Scarlet Fever
A red and swollen tongue and throat is a common sign of scarlet fever. Scarlet fever may also develop in people with strep throat. Other symptoms include a sore throat, a high fever, a strawberry tongue, a sunburn-like rash, abdominal pain, headache, and a flushed face.
14. Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection. TSS results from toxins produced from bacteria such as group A streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. Throat irritation and red bumps in the throat are common symptoms of TSS. Other symptoms include rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, a high fever, muscle pain, headaches, confusion, and seizures.
White Bumps in the Back of the Throat
Let’s single out white bumps in the back of the throat. These bumps in the back of your throat can signal many health concerns that are associated with oral yeast or bacterial infections.
The white bumps in the back of your throat may disappear without treatment. However, if the white bumps or patches remain after some time, you will want to speak to a medical professional. He or she will likely tell you that the white bumps are caused by one of the following conditions:
- Strep throat
- Oral thrush
- Oral herpes
- Tonsilloliths (tonsil stones)
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Chemical exposure
- Drugs, such as aspirin
Red Bumps in the Back of the Throat
What about red bumps in the back of your throat? Red bumps in the back of the throat can be quite painful and rather annoying. There are several reasons you will see red bumps in the back of the throat, including on the roof of the mouth.
Aside from the red bumps, spots, or sores, each potential cause has its own set of symptoms. Sometimes there is overlap with white bumps, and the causes may include strep throat, oral thrush, oral herpes, and oral thrush or candidiasis bumps on your palate.
On the other hand, when there are only red bumps, the most common causes of these bumps in the back of the throat include:
- Canker sores
- Cold sores
- Coxsackievirus infection
- Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
- Transient lingual papillitis
Top Natural Remedies for Bumps in Back of Throat
It’s best to treat the underlying cause when there are bumps in back of throat, so testing may be required. The following are natural remedies that can help treat the red or white bumps in your throat:
1. Gargling with Salt Water
An effective way to remove bumps in the throat is to gargle with warm salt water. Stir half a teaspoon of Celtic sea salt into a full glass of warm water. Gargle for about 30 seconds, then spit the water out. It’s a good idea to gargle salt water after each meal, and of course until the bumps in your throat is no longer a problem.
2. Detecting Food Allergies
Many people suffer from hidden food allergies, especially when oral thrush is an issue—allergies are another potential cause of bumps at the back of the throat. Common food allergies include dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, shellfish, and peanuts. Good ways to detect food allergies include an elimination diet or an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
3. Herbal Remedies
There are several herbs that are beneficial for sore throats due to bumps in the back of throat. Evidence suggests that the South African geranium is useful for common cold symptoms such as a fever, coughing, and a sore and scratchy throat, according to a study published in the journal Explore in 2007 (2). There are also herbs that can treat candida overgrowth, especially plants that contain the alkaloid berberine such as goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, and goldthread. Licorice root is another useful herb with immune-boosting properties that reduces throat inflammation. Other herbs with antifungal and antibacterial properties include garlic, oregano, and pau d’arco.
Homeopathy can also benefit those with sore bumps in the throat. For instance, apis mellifica may be prescribed when a person has swollen throat or swollen and red tonsils. The person may also experience a burning or stinging pain that feels worse when drinking warm liquids and better when eating ice or drinking cold liquids. Other homeopathic remedies that may benefit those with bumps in the throat include sulphur, Phytolacca, and belladonna.
An imbalance of good bacteria in the body can lead to Candida overgrowth, oral thrush, and a sore and swollen throat from poor immunity. High-quality probiotic supplementation can help counter the effects from an impaired immune system and balance the body’s bacteria to treat and prevent immune and Candida-related issues. Consult a health practitioner for a probiotic and dosage recommendation. Also include probiotic rich foods, such as yogurt, to your diet.
Other Natural Throat Remedies
Other useful remedies to build the immune system and treat throat-related conditions include echinacea, Lomatium dissectum, slippery elm, colloidal silver, thymus extract, Andrographis paniculata, vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc.
How to Prevent Bumps in Back of Throat
There are also a number ways to prevent bumps in the back of the throat, including the following:
1. Dietary restrictions:
Sugar and dairy contribute to mucus production and promote the overgrowth of Candida. Restricting the intake of both foods can help prevent bumps in the throat due strep throat or oral thrush.
2. Proper oral hygiene:
Proper oral hygiene is always a good idea. It can help prevent white throat bumps, especially when oral candidiasis is the cause. Brush your teeth and gums after every meal, clean your tongue with a metal or copper tongue scraper, and use a natural antibacterial herbal mouthwash.
3. Keep well hydrated:
Drink a glass of water at least every couple of hours. It’s also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine, since they will make you dehydrated. Consume liquid foods that help boost the immune system including fresh vegetable smoothies and juices, and bone broths.
Bumps in the back of your throat should not be ignored
Having small, red or white bumps in the back of your throat and tongue may be normal, but it is still wise to have a professional look at it. This is because these bumps at the back of your throat can potentially have several serious causes.
Those bumps at the back of the throat may actually be strep throat, tonsil stones, pharyngitis, throat herpes, oral candidiasis, or even conditions like mono, toxic shock syndrome, HPV, and oropharyngeal cancer.
Luckily, natural treatments can include homeopathy, probiotics, and herbal remedies like South African geranium and plants high in the alkaloid berberine such as goldenseal or barberry.
However, the treatment will always depend on the cause. Always consult with your natural practitioner for the best treatment tailored to your specific needs.
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