Cobblestone Throat: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Cobblestone throat is a type of sore throat (pharyngitis) that affects the area behind the mouth. It is a term doctors use to describe an irritated throat with visible bumps and lumps at the back of the throat, also known as the pharynx. It is caused by enlarged lymphatic tissue in the tonsils and adenoids, which are pockets of tissue in the back of your throat. This tissue often becomes inflamed or irritated in response to extra mucus in the throat.

At some point in your life, you must have had a sensation in your throat where thick mucus from your nose is passed down to the throat and sometimes you may even swallow it. This mostly happens during the cold weather and you see noticeable blood vessels and bumps at the back of your throat. The condition generally causes pain and an itchy sensation in the region of the throat affected, as well as difficulty in swallowing. On clinical examination, your doctor finds a rough, lumpy surface at the back of your throat.

What is Cobblestone Throat?

Cobblestone throat is a common condition caused mostly by a viral infection (HPV-human papilloma virus) and sometimes, by a bacterial infection. It is characterized by visible bumps and lumps at the back of the pharynx. Most times, it lasts for a week, and sometimes even longer, regardless, it is harmless and easy to treat.

Cobblestone throat

SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH COBBLESTONE THROAT

Some common symptoms associated with cobblestone throat are:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Pains in the throat
  3. Redness of the throat and tonsils
  4. White patches at the pharynx
  5. Nausea 
  6. A hoarse voice
  7. Bumps at the back of the throat
  8. Difficulty in swallowing
  9. Fever
  10. Constant dry cough
  11. Bad breath

However, these symptoms are subjective to whatever factor may be responsible for the appearance of a cobblestone throat.

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Causes of Cobblestone Throat

Sometimes, when people notice the signs of cobblestone throat, they begin to worry that they may have cancer. This is why it is essential to check with your doctor, even though cancer does not typically cause cobblestone (bumps in the throat).

There are 2 Major Causes of Cobblestone Throat:

1. POSTNASAL DRIP

Mucus production in the throat and nose helps to keep the nasal passage clean, prevents you from inhaling harmful foreign substances, and traps germs and dust. However, a situation where this mucus production becomes excess and thicker is known as postnasal drip. It can lead to the formation of bumps in the back of your throat along with irritation of the throat.

Causes of a postnasal drip may include: Common cold (flu), spicy foods, vaping, cold and dry air, germs and dust, allergies. Other causes may include; bacterial infections, vasomotor rhinitis (overly sensitive nose), some medications (e.g high blood pressure drugs and some birth control pills) that increase the thickness of your mucus, and gastroesophageal reflux.

2. PHARYNGITIS/SORE THROAT

Pharyngitis is a condition resulting from the inflammation of the pharynx which causes the throat to become irritated and swell, the lymph nodes become swollen and filled with fluid in response to the inflammation, making the cells under the skin appear bumpy.

The inflammation of the pharynx is often from viral infections, only about 30% is due to a bacterial infection. Pharyngitis can be either acute or chronic. It is acute if the symptoms persist for about 10 days, but should it linger on for a few more weeks, it becomes chronic.

Chronic pharyngitis is the reoccurrence of the symptoms, and sometimes even, the symptoms do not go away. It can be caused by an allergy, acid reflux, smoke, and infection.

i. Acid Reflux: This is a medical condition where your stomach acid insistently flows back into your mouth through a sour taste, sometimes giving a feeling of food being caught in your throat, difficulty swallowing, dry cough, bad breath, heartburn, and pain in the chest.

ii. Allergies: An allergy to pollen, dust, pet, or mold can make your throat itching and dry. 

Is Cobblestone Throat Dangerous?

No, having cobblestone throat is not dangerous. Infact you have nothing much to worry about except if it is caused by HPV virus. Eventhough, you man be discomforted, it is not a serious medical condition. However, there are some symptoms that you have that may indicate a serious health concern.

If you experience any of the symptoms named below, along with your cobblestone throat, you should meet or consult your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Trouble in breathing
  • Having difficulty in swallowing or eating
  • A swelling in the neck or face
  • Hoarseness that lasts more than a week

Cobblestone Throat Treatment

Like the symptoms, to treat cobblestone throat, your doctor will need to find out what is causing it. However, treating a cobblestone throat involves treating the mucus-producing condition that is causing it to appear. In most cases, cobblestone will not need to be treated, because the symptoms disappear in a week or less.

Patients with cobblestone throat should note that antibiotics are most times not useful in their conditions and should not use antibiotics unless when prescribed by their doctor, so their body doesn’t grow resistant to antibiotics.

Some home remedies that can be used in the treatment of cobblestone throat are:

  • Hydration: Dehydration can lead to a dry throat which might progress to cause an itch in the throat. Drinking plenty of fluids is key to staying hydrated.
  • Gargling with lukewarm saltwater
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Using honey to reduce coughing and sore throat.

MEDICAL TREATMENTS OF COBBLESTONE THROAT

i) Use of antihistamines: If the appearance of cobblestone throat is a result of an allergy, your doctor might prescribe the use of antihistamines such as Cetirizine.

ii) Nasal sprays: These are also known as steroid nasal sprays which may be prescribed to you if your cobblestone is also as a result of an allergy.

iii) Use of decongestants: In a situation where you have nasal congestion and at the same time cobblestone throat, your doctor may prescribe some decongestants, as they can be effective in such cases.

iv) Antibiotics: Should your cobblestone be due to a bacterial infection, this is the only time your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic for treatment.

CONCLUSION

While symptoms of cobblestone can disappear with or without treatment you must take care of your hygiene, know your allergies and try to stay away from them, avoid breathing in polluted air and quit smoking if you are a smoker. Take these measures to prevent having or the reoccurrence of cobblestone throat.Also, should symptoms of cobblestone persist after 10 days, even after using the home remedies recommended in this article, ensure to consult your doctor for medical treatments? 

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