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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Lumps on the back of my tongue

11/29/2005

Question:

Dear Sir, I have several lumps on the back of my tongue. These lumps tickle my throat, which causes me to want to scrape/clear the throat continiously. The lumps are of various size and seem to go further into my throat as I can see. I have some slime coming up when scraping the throat, but this is not constant the case. What could this be and is there any medicine to treat this problem?

Answer:

It is very difficult for me to know exactly what is going on with your tongue without having an opportunity to examine it.  However, it sounds like you may be describing normal "lumps" on your tongue.  On the back of our tongues sit big taste buds called circumvallate papillae.  They extend all the way down the back of our tongues.  They are usually not felt and do not tend to cause problems normally.

Your symptoms sound much more like acid reflux symptoms.  Typically people will complain of mucus in the back of the throat.  This mucus is often referred to as sinus drainage or just drainage.  Other symptoms include a need to clear your throat, occasional cough, intermittent hoarseness, maybe a lump in the throat sensation, soreness of the throat, difficulty swallowing and occasionally a sour taste in the mouth.  You may have a couple of these symptoms or many.  The usual treatment is to use medications that control stomach acid secretion and make some lifestyle and dietary changes.  Foods that are high in acid or foods that cause more acid production should be reduced or eliminated:  Foods like oranges, lemons, tomatoes.  Alcoholic beverages can cause problems related to acid reflux.  Certain medications will predispose to acid reflux.

I recommend that you see you medical doctor.  An evaluation by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor would also be a good idea so that the back of the mouth and the throat can be examined in greater detail.

Good luck with this problem.

 

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati