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Mouth Diseases

Bump on uvula, back of mouth

03/13/2008

Question:

I noticed a bump on my uvula about a month ago, and it hasn`t gone away. Recently, I noticed another one on far back in throat on the tissue near the uvula, that may have been there just as long as this one is harder to notice. The shapes of the bumps haven`t changed.

I`m very concerned what may be causing these bumps. I`m living in Madrid, and the air is very dry here. I believe I`ve been sleeping with my mouth open. Also, I`ve been on antibiotics fighting a recurrent yeast/bacterial infection, antibiotics that I have never taken before. Also, I have been having really bad allergies lately as well. Could any of these things have something to do with it? I know I should go get this checked out given the duration of the bump on the uvula. What type of doctor should I contact?

Thank you

Answer:

If this is a small bump (less than 4 millimeters in diameter) on the uvula, this probably represents a minor salivary gland that is close to the surface. This is something that we see rather commonly - but one has to look carefully because this is a difficult anatomic site to examine.

In all likelihood, this has been present for longer than one month - it's just that you noticed it one month ago. We have dozens and dozens of rather small ("minor") salivary glands that are distributed throughout much of the mouth. Most of these minor glands are embedded within the lining of the mouth.

If you run your tongue over the inner surface of your lower lip, you can feel the minor salivary glands in this area as little bumps within the lip. Back in the area of the uvula, we occasionally see one of these minor salivary glands that is closer to the surface, and this results in a little bump. You can check on the bump you have on your uvula every month or so, and no increase in size should be seen. If the bump seems to be getting bigger (which is unlikely), then you should see an oral surgeon.

When you describe a bump "far back in the throat", I assume you mean the oropharynx (back of the throat). There are usually numerous small bumps in this area that are normal structures. These are called "subepithelial lymphoid tissue", and represent collections of lymphocytes, which are part of the body's defenses. The tonsils and adenoids are bigger collections of these lymphoid cells, but small groups of such cells are found throughout the lining of the throat and base of the tongue. This lymphoid tissue may get slightly larger if an infection or irritation is present in this area, but once the infection or irritation is resolved, the lymphoid tissue shrinks back to its original size typically.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University