Bumps in the back of the throat may look swollen and rough. Some people call this symptom cobblestone throat due to its appearance. Most people with a cobblestone throat have pharyngitis, which causes the throat to feel swollen, painful, and irritated. Several different conditions can cause pharyngitis, but it is most commonly due to a viral or bacterial infection, such as the flu or common cold.
In this article, read more about the causes of bumps in the back of the throat, as well as home remedies and when to see a doctor. Infections can cause a cobblestone appearance at the back of the throat. When the body fights an infection or irritant, the lymph nodes and lymph tissue fill with fluid and become swollen. Swollen lymph glands can cause the cells under the skin to swell and look bumpy, which doctors call pharyngitis.
Viral infections cause 60–90% of pharyngitis cases. Other viruses, such as chickenpox, herpes, croup, and mono, sometimes cause swelling and a cobblestone throat.
Bacterial infections may also cause bumps at the back of the throat. Bacterial infections are more common in winter and early spring. Children and teenagers may have a higher risk of viral and bacterial throat infections, including those that cause bumps at the back of the throat.
Sometimes, pharyngitis can be a chronic problem that lasts for weeks or months, causing the cobblestone appearance to linger for a long time.
When pharyngitis is chronic, it is usually because something continuously irritates the throat, rather than because a person has an infection. Acid reflux and allergies are possible culprits. People with swelling or lumps at the back of the throat might worry that they have cancer. Cancer does not typically cause bumps at the back of the throat. However, it is important to talk to a doctor about any growth or swelling that does not go away.
In addition to seeing bumps at the back of the throat, a person may have swelling at the back of the mouth or throat, often right behind the tonsils. A doctor can usually diagnose the cause of the bumps by looking at the throat. Some other tests that may aid diagnosis include: a blood test for Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes mono a throat culture to test for Streptococcus bacteria, which cause strep throat a throat culture to test for less common viruses, such as chlamydia