Palate pain: causes and therapy

Palate pain: causes and therapy

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The term palate pain describes complaints in the area of ​​the upper wall of the oral cavity. A distinction is made between the front (hard) and back (soft) palate, which perform different tasks such as take over the separation of the oral and nasal cavities or certain sound formation processes.

Symptoms that are acute often have relatively harmless reasons, e.g. a burn from hot food or a cold and usually heal quickly. In addition to this, a feeling of pain in the palate can also occur in the context of various diseases. For example, here an allergy, gum or tonsillitis, in rare cases certain forms of nerve pain (neuralgia), abscesses or a malignant tumor in the oral cavity are also possible. If the pain persists for several days, a doctor should always be consulted as a precaution in order to clarify the trigger exactly and to take no health risks.

The palate: definition and structure

The term “palate” (Latin: palatum) refers to the upper wall or “roof” of the oral cavity, which separates it from the nasal cavity and the pharynx. The front part ("hard palate") is formed from the maxilla (maxilla) and the so-called palate bone (os palatinum). The oral mucosa is immobile in this area, firmly attached to the periosteum and extends approximately to the teeth of whiteness (med .: third molars). Here the transition takes place into the posterior, soft palate (palatum molle), which is formed from the “soft palate” and the central palate cone (uvula). This consists of a connective tissue plate into which various muscles (such as the soft palate muscle) radiate and is therefore movable in contrast to the front part.

During the swallowing process, the soft palate pulls the soft palate upwards, which separates the oral cavity from the nasopharynx and prevents food from entering the nose. The “suppository”, on the other hand, plays an important role above all in the formation of sounds. Because without the uvula, for example, the letter combination "Ch" would not be possible, and the consonant "r" could not be spoken correctly, since the suppository for it necessarily "flutters" against the back tongue.

From the soft palate, two folds of mucous membrane go down to the right and left, leading to the side of the pharynx and the base of the tongue. Between these so-called “palatal arches” are the “tonsils” (tonsil palatina), which consist of lymphatic tissue and serve as part of the immune system to ward off pathogens. The transition from the front to the rear part is particularly evident when the mouth is opened wide and “Ah” is said. Accordingly, the border between the two areas is also referred to as the “Ah line”.

Causes of Palate Pain

Pain in the palate is often caused by comparatively harmless causes. In many cases, for example, food that is too hot or drinks such as a piece of pizza, coffee or tea that triggers burns or scalds on the tongue or the sensitive mucous membrane of the palate. As a result, there is redness, swelling, small burns and often severe pain, which mostly occur in the front area.

In addition, various infectious diseases can be the trigger for the symptoms. For example, a flu-like infection or an inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis), which can be seen to the left and right behind the palate suppository with the mouth open, are possible here. Tonsillitis is usually caused by bacteria (especially group A streptococci) or viruses that are caused by droplet infection, e.g. transmitted from person to person when coughing, kissing or speaking. In addition, acute inflammation may be an accompanying symptom of another disease such as Pfeiffer's glandular fever (Epstein-Barr virus) or a fungal infection from Candida albicans (thrushangina).

Typically, an acute tonsillitis (angina) mainly causes a sore throat, e.g. can speak to the entire throat area, palate or even to the ears when speaking. In addition, there are usually severe swallowing difficulties, swelling of the lymph nodes on the neck and general symptoms such as fatigue, headache and fever. The tonsils are red and swollen, if there is a bacterial infection, there are also white and yellow spots (pus). The chronic form (tonsillitis chronica), on the other hand, is rarely manifested by acute symptoms, but sometimes there is also slight difficulty swallowing, bad breath, reduced ability to concentrate and a general feeling of weakness. In some cases, the permanent inflammation of the almond tissue also leads to a constant flare-up of acute tonsillitis (chronic, recurrent course).

As an accompanying symptom during treatment, through the use of unsuitable or incorrectly dosed medication or therapy started too late, an abscess can form as a complication with tonsillitis. While the inflammation in angina only affects the tonsils, in the case of the so-called "peritonsillar abscess" it penetrates into the surrounding connective tissue and causes pus to accumulate there. The symptoms of an almond abscess are similar to those of angina in that they include fever, sore throat, severe difficulty swallowing and, in some cases, difficulty opening the mouth (jaw clamp). In addition, the strong swelling of the tonsils shows an uneven bulging of the front palate in some sufferers, which often leads to discomfort or pressure pain in this area.

Another possible cause is acute throat inflammation (pharyngitis), which is one of the most common diseases in the area of ​​the throat, nose and ears. This is an inflammation of the pharynx mucosa, which in most cases is caused by an infection with viruses (e.g. flu pathogens), but less often also by bacteria such as A streptococci or pneumococci. Characteristic of acute pharyngitis (also "acute pharyngeal catarrh") are swallowing difficulties and severe sore throat, which spread to the entire pharynx and mouth area and accordingly can also lead to a painful palate. In addition, there is usually a scratchy, dry throat, a reddened pharynx mucous membrane and swollen neck lymph nodes, as well as fever and headache in the case of a virus infection.

Furthermore, a so-called "zoster oticus" comes into question. This represents a special form of shingles (herpes zoster), in which the herpes-typical blisters attach themselves to the pinna and the external auditory canal. This leads to severe pain that can spread to the entire area of ​​the face, in addition to fever and a general feeling of illness. Depending on where the zoster is located, other complaints such as impaired balance, dizziness and hearing loss are possible, which can lead to permanent hearing impairment or even deafness if treatment is not performed.

Cause neuralgia

Various types of nerve pain (neuralgia) such as e.g. the so-called "glossopharyngeal neuralgia". This very rare disease is an attack-like pain in the area of ​​the throat, palate, tongue and base of the tongue, some of which radiate into the external auditory canal. The pain is usually experienced as sharp, stabbing and shooting, sometimes even as "crushing" and can occur both spontaneously and by a "trigger" such as cold drinks, chewing, yawning or coughing. For the majority of those affected, no clear cause can be found (ideopathic glossopharyngeal neuralgia), but often (in an MRI scanner) there is a conspicuous compression of the nerve by the pressure of an artery (neurovascular compression). Less often, a tumor or inflammatory changes or injuries to the nerves can be the reason for the neuralgia.

The “laryngeal superior neuralgia”, which is also very rare, can also be the reason for palate pain. This is a pain of the upper larynx nerve (superior laryngeal nerve), which often radiates to the lower jaw area and palate, and sometimes even to the shoulders and ears. The complaints are e.g. triggered by speaking, coughing or singing and typically occur suddenly and in the most massive form.

Pain on the palate with allergy

Another possible reason is an allergic runny nose (allergic rhinitis). This is an inflammatory disease of the nose, which can be limited over a certain period of time or can occur permanently and all year round. The most common triggers are pollen, dust mites, animal hair and mold spores, whereby pollutants such as Ozone or fine dust as well as histamine-containing foods (hard cheese, tomatoes, seafood, smoked meat etc.) that can aggravate the symptoms.

The allergic runny nose is caused by a hypersensitive reaction of the immune cells to the normally "harmless" substances (allergens), which usually occur within a few minutes after inhalation. As a result, there is swelling of the nasal mucosa, constant sneezing and severe itching in the nose, eyes and ears, and the palate often begins to itch and pain. In addition, many allergy sufferers suffer from a persistent runny nose, watery, red eyes, difficulty concentrating and tiredness, and associated diseases such as sinus or conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) often occur. Allergies are now considered a “widespread disease”, which, according to the Allergy Center at the University Clinic in Erlangen, affects every third person in more or less severe cases nationwide.

Discomfort on the palate with toothache

The background can be toothache, which extends to the entire mouth and throat area and can therefore also affect the palate. Again, very different causes come into consideration, but caries, gingivitis (gingivitis) or bacterial inflammation of the tooth bed (periodontitis) are often responsible for the symptoms. Even after dental treatment such as After placing a filling or root canal, the strong irritation can lead to redness, swelling and pain on the palate.

If the pain is very pronounced and accompanied by an oppressive, pulsating feeling on the tooth, there may also be an inflammation of the tooth pulp (pulpitis). This affects the tissue inside the tooth, which is surrounded by tooth enamel, dentin and root cement. Pulpitis is often caused by caries bacteria, which gradually “eat” through the individual layers of the tooth into the interior of the pulp if treatment is not started or is started too late. Likewise, e.g. Mechanical causes such as gnashing of teeth or injuries (falling on the tooth or the like), dental treatment, irregularly growing wisdom teeth or insufficiently healed periodontitis are the triggers.

Palate cancer

Another possible cause is a malignant tumor in the oral cavity, which includes the lips, the floor of the mouth, the flexible tongue, the gums, the cheeks, the hard palate and the front surface of the soft palate. The oral cavity fulfills various functions, for example, this is where the digestion of food begins and pathogens are warded off by natural bacteria. In addition, e.g. the tongue plays an indispensable role in language and, through certain sensory cells, ensures the perception of different tastes.

According to the German Cancer Society, around 10,000 people in this country contract a tumor in this area each year, around three quarters of which are male. This means that this form of cancer is ranked seventh among all malignant tumors in men, but at the same time more and more women are affected. The disease most often occurs in men between 55 and 65 years and in women between 50 and 75 years.

The disease can e.g. in the form of lip, tongue or palate in principle occur in every area of ​​the oral cavity, moreover it is possible that several places are affected at the same time (multilocular tumor growth). The first signs of cancer can be longer, initially painless changes in the oral mucosa, which is why these should always be checked by a doctor as a precaution. These include, for example, rough, raised or hardened areas that are reminiscent of a pressure point or bite injury. Also typical at the beginning are white-grayish spots that seem to have "grown together" with the mucous membrane and cannot be wiped off or scratched away (leukoplakia). Shining, dark red changes in the mucous membrane that start to bleed quickly are also possible (erythroplasia). An important sign can also be defects in the mucous membrane, for example in the form of sores and non-healing wounds.

In the further course, swallowing and chewing problems, hoarseness, coughing and bloody saliva occur frequently, pain is also typical, which can radiate into the ears, head and neck. In addition, there may be swelling of the lymph nodes on the neck, loosening of teeth, numbness of the tongue, teeth or lips, increased salivation and language difficulties. Some sufferers also suffer from bad breath due to the decay of tumor parts (mouth rot). In addition, in most patients, advanced cancer signs and symptoms such as e.g. Fatigue and exhaustion, loss of performance and loss of appetite.

The causes of cancer in the oral cavity have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is assumed that certain lifestyle habits can favor emergence. Combined tobacco and alcohol are the main risk factors, as more than 75 percent of all ENT cancers are diagnosed in people who smoke and drink regularly. However, since the disease also affects non-smokers who abstain, other influencing factors such as Diet or hereditary factors suspected.

Treatment: what helps with palate pain?

In many cases, the symptoms are relatively harmless reasons such as a mild flu infection or irritation of the oral mucosa through spicy food, hot coffee or the like. underlying. Accordingly, the pain usually resolves itself after a few days and does not require any special medical treatment. However, home remedies or alternative healing methods are often very well suited to support recovery in a natural way and to activate the self-healing powers.

However, if the pain is still noticeable and / or becomes worse after a few days, a doctor should be consulted promptly to clarify the trigger. Because complaints in the palate can also indicate a number of diseases that need timely and appropriate treatment in order not to risk complications or complications. The specific procedure is based on the diagnosed cause and can include a wide variety of medications, procedures and measures.

Is e.g. If an allergic runny nose is the reason, the central step of the therapy is to avoid contact with the corresponding allergens (parental leave). However, since this rarely succeeds completely, additional medications are usually prescribed which lead to the symptoms being alleviated or not occurring at all. For colds, swollen nasal mucosa and conjunctivitis, antihistamines (such as azelastine, cetirizine or clemastine) are used, which are available in various dosage forms, e.g. are available as eye drops, nasal spray or tablets. In addition, the otolaryngologist usually advises on a possible immunotherapy (hyposensitization), in which the immune system is slowly getting used to the allergy triggers.

In the case of acute, viral throat inflammation, antipyretic and analgesic agents (such as paracetamol, ibuprofen) and throat tablets with a local anesthetic are usually used. In addition, if a bacterial infection occurs or bacteria are the trigger for the inflammation from the outset, antibiotic therapy is usually recommended.

If the complaint is based on cancer in an emergency, the treatment can also be carried out in different ways, depending on the individual case. The choice of the specific therapy method depends on the location, size, type and lymphatic spread of the tumor. The patient's age and ability to operate are also taken into account. Smaller tumors are usually treated with surgery or radiation. In the advanced stage, however, a combined procedure is often indicated. It is possible here e.g. surgery plus pre- and post-radiation or the combination of radiation and chemotherapy. It has also been possible for a few years to treat oral cancer with the antibody, “cetuximab”, which counteracts the growth and multiplication of the tumor cells. If the antibody is used for therapy, this is usually done in combination with radiation or chemotherapy.

Home remedies for palate pain

If a slight burn (e.g. from hot pizza) triggers the symptoms, in most cases you do not need to visit a doctor. Instead, the affected palate usually heals itself, although various home remedies can provide helpful support. Beneficial for pain, swelling and small burns is e.g. an ice cube that the affected person lets melt in the affected area in the mouth. The effect is enhanced if the cube is made of chamomile tea, because the "jack of all trades" in herbal medicine inhibits inflammation, promotes wound healing and kills bacteria and fungi. Accordingly, it is advisable to always have a small stock of chamomile cubes in the refrigerator, so that in the event of a combustion, but also e.g. to have an effective first aid at hand for a bruise or insect bite. In addition, icy chamomile has proven itself in many cases as a home remedy for pimples.

Alternatively, cold water can also be used for cooling; a solution of warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil is also suitable for gargling. However, it should be noted here that the mouth is then carefully rinsed out and the oil is never swallowed. In addition, cold milk, buttermilk, or yogurt can relieve pain if left in the mouth for a while. Even a teaspoon of honey often helps if it is slowly melted in the mouth. This does not apply to children under the age of twelve months, however, because honey can cause severe poisoning in infants in individual cases (infant botulism).

It is also advisable to avoid acidic, spicy and salty foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, chillies etc. during the healing process so that the affected area is not additionally irritated. The same applies to food with sharp edges such as Chips or bread, as these quickly lead to further small injuries to the sensitive tissue. In most cases, a burn in the mouth heals quickly. However, if the symptoms persist for more than three to four days or worsen, a doctor should always be consulted as a precaution.

If problems with the teeth are the reason for the palate pain, a dentist should always be consulted first so that the necessary treatment steps can be initiated in good time if necessary. In parallel or as an immediate measure in an emergency, a number of natural remedies can also alleviate the symptoms. As in the case of earache, e.g. the onion can be very helpful due to its anti-inflammatory effects. This is chopped up and put in a cotton handkerchief or similar. filled, then the wrap is gently pressed from the outside to the affected area. Other proven home remedies for toothache are e.g. Chamomile pack or oil pulling, in addition, biting on a clove has proven itself in many cases.

If the palate discomfort occurs in connection with a sore throat or cold, various home remedies for a sore throat can be beneficial. Here, for example, cold throat wraps, regular gargling with a sage-chamomile solution or tea from the Bibernell sausage come into consideration. Berries such as e.g. Sea buckthorn, black currants or rose hips due to their high vitamin content as a natural remedy for colds.

Naturopathic treatment for palate pain

Naturopathy offers an infectious cause e.g. antibacterial medicinal plants, which are becoming increasingly popular due to their wide range of applications. These include chamomile, linden blossoms and thyme, which, for example in the form of a tea, can work directly on the affected areas on the palate.

For example, Schüssler salts can be used for tonsillitis. Ferrum Phosphoricum (No. 3), Potassium Chloratum (No. 4), Sodium Phosphoricum (No. 9) and Kalium bromatum (No. 14) can be used here, whereby a maximum of three different salts should be taken at the same time. Naturally, practitioners also recommend salt No. 12 (Calcium sulfuricum), whose typical abilities include the relief of purulent processes. Accordingly, this remedy can be very effective in angina, but e.g. can also be used in case of sinus enlargement.

If there is a flu infection or allergic runny nose, a strong defense is particularly important. A nutritional and varied diet with lots of fruit and vegetables plays a central role, and you should always make sure you drink enough (at least 2 liters of water a day) and as much exercise as possible in the fresh air. Likewise, with stress and intense tension, various relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga or meditation are in many cases effective exercises that strengthen the immune system. In addition, depending on individual needs, a number of other measures to reduce stress, such as Applications in the field of hydrotherapy (baths, alternating showers, etc.), massages, acupuncture or psychotherapy help to find the inner balance (again) and thus strengthen one's own body defense. (No)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Social Science Nina Reese


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  • German Pain Society V .: Nerve pain, (accessed September 11, 2019), DGSS
  • Jutta Lehnen: Consultation practice fungal infections, German pharmacist publishing house, 1st edition, 2012
  • A. Lan Schumacher, Georg J. Ledderose, Peter Hahn (ed.), Karl-Joseph Paquet (ed.): Facts ENT, KVM - Der Medizinverlag, 1st edition, 2010

Video: Is It More Than a Sore Throat? (November 2022).