What are throat white patches?

White patches at the back of your throat or on your tonsils can be signs of infection. Usually these patches are irritating or painful, and sometimes the pain is worse with swallowing or on coming into contact with acidic foods. In addition to infection, sometimes these white patches can be a result of an injury from chemical exposures.

Most commonly, throat white patches will be accompanied by a sore throat and other symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose, fever, nasal congestion, sinus pain or pressure, body aches and pains, or problems with swallowing and eating.

A common bacterial infection that may result in white patches in the throat is strep throat, an infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat is a common and contagious illness that results in a tender and painful sore throat accompanied by fever and other symptoms. Similarly, infectious mononucleosis is a common viral infection that may result in throat white patches.

Leukoplakia is the term for a precancerous condition that most often occurs on the tongue or lining of the cheek. This condition also appears as white patches inside the mouth and is caused by chronic irritation rather than infection.

White patches caused by an infectious disease will usually require the full course of medical treatment of the causative disorder before the patches themselves disappear. Seek prompt medical care if you have white patches at the back of your throat or on your tonsils, so that you can begin treatment.

While these patches in themselves are not life threatening, complications of the related throat infection can be. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as choking or severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), and anxiety; high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit); sudden swelling of the tongue or throat structures; change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or a change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with throat white patches?

White throat patches may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the upper respiratory tract may also involve other body systems.

Respiratory symptoms that may occur along with throat white patches

White throat patches may accompany other symptoms affecting the respiratory syst... Read more about throat white patchessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes throat white patches?

White patches at the back of your throat or on your tonsils are usually signs of infection, particularly strep throat, tonsillitis, or mononucleosis; they are sometimes associated with a syphilitic infection. In addition to infection, sometimes these white patches can be a result of an injury from a chemical injury to the throat.

Infectious causes of throat white patches

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health