If you’re experiencing a swollen roof of mouth (also known as palate), there can be many contributing factors including allergies, irritants found in foods, injury which is due to bones or sharp foods, colds, sinus infections, illness and more serious conditions such as mononucleosis which caused by Epstein-Barr virus or palate cancer. Treatments vary depending on the underlying condition, and a doctor’s visit may be necessary if the swollen roof persists or worsens.
Causes and Treatments of Swollen Roof of Mouth
Allergic symptoms are due to the body’s response to a foreign substance. Inflammation (swelling) and irritation are common. Other symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, itchy eyes, nose, ears, palate, throat and lips, wheezing, runny nose, pain in the sinuses, swelling, hives, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea.
To prevent allergic reactions that cause a swollen roof of mouth, awareness is key. Many instances are caused by food allergens. Don’t assume that a food you’re eating is free of a substance you’re allergic to. When in doubt, pass it up. Many people aren’t aware just how life-threatening allergic reactions can be! The top food allergens include wheat, soy, milk, peanuts, fish, eggs, shellfish and tree nuts.
Mononucleosis, or “mono,” is typically caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and it is most common in teens and young adults. Mono is one illness that can cause roof of mouth swelling and itching. Symptoms of mono include a severe sore throat, swollen glands, swollen tonsils, fatigue, weakness and high fever. A more severe symptom is a swollen or burst spleen, which a serious medical emergency signalled by pain in the upper left belly.
Mono is determined by blood tests as well as observation of symptoms. Fortunately, mono is most often cured with self-care including gargling with salt water (to soothe a sore throat and help cure the infection), getting plenty of rest, avoiding strenuous or contact sports, and using pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil. Care must be taken to avoid aspirin for pain relief in persons younger than 20 years.
3. Sinus Infections
Inflammation of the air cavities in your head is called sinusitis. These cavities are located in the nose as well as behind the cheeks and around the eyes. Sinusitis, a cause of swollen roof of mouth, is typically caused by infection, allergies or exposure to chemicals and particulates in the air. You may experience facial tenderness or pressure, fever, nasal stuffiness, headache, sore throat, cough or cloudy mucus discharge.
You can treat sinusitis with over-the-counter remedies that include Tylenol (for pain), mucolytics and decongestants. Nasal irrigation using a neti-pot or rinse kit will help clear the sinuses. You can also use eucalyptus in a hot shower to help drain the sinuses. Treating a sinus infection early will help prevent secondary bacterial infections, which require antibiotic treatment.
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4. Palate Cancer
A possible cause of swollen roof of mouth is palate cancer. It is a rare condition characterized by difficult or uncontrollable swallowing, painful mouth swelling, mouth ulcers (lesions) or lumps, night sweats and weight loss. A doctor’s evaluation is essential since these symptoms may be due to other conditions. A major cause of palate cancer is the use of tobacco, whether inhaled or chewed. 90% of oral cancers are attributed to smoking (pipe, cigarette and cigar) and the use of chewing tobacco and snuff. Alcoholic beverages may also contribute to palate cancer. Leukoplakia, a condition that causes white patches in the mouth, is also a known factor.
Early treatment is most likely to be successful. Treatment can include radiation and/or chemotherapy. Surgery may be necessary if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. This can often be accomplished using laser microsurgery, if the tumors are small-to-medium sized.