Retropharyngeal Abscess: What You Need to Know

Retropharyngeal Abscess Symptoms

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of retropharyngeal abscess. These signs and symptoms may indicate other types of infection or even cancer. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

1) Painful cough with difficulty swallowing (phlegm).

2) Painful coughing up of phlegm.

3) Difficulty breathing due to pain.

4) Difficulty swallowing due to pain.

5) Blood in your stool.

6) Bloating and swelling in your abdomen (abdominal distention).

7) You feel nauseous when eating certain foods such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, cabbage or spinach.

8) Your stomach hurts when you eat food.

9) You vomit blood frequently.

10) You experience a burning sensation in your throat (hiccuping). Hiccups are caused by inflammation of the vocal cords. They usually occur at night while sleeping. Sometimes they happen during exercise or when watching scary movies or TV shows.

11) You sometimes feel pain in the roof of your mouth or under your chin. Pain may be caused by swollen salivary glands.

12) Your gums become inflamed (gingivitis). This may cause swelling in your face, neck or lower jaw.

13) You experience dry mouth.

14) Difficulty swallowing. This may cause food or saliva to get trapped when eating causing pain and sometimes choking.

15) You often experience ear pain.

16) Your ears feel clogged up constantly.

17) A lump in your neck that causes pain (lymph nodes).

18) You have a “cracking” sensation in your ears.

19) You have a constant tickling inside your ears and nose.

20) A sensation of having something stuck in your throat.

These are just some of the symptoms of retropharyngeal abscess. If you experience any other symptoms that are persistent, seek medical attention immediately.

Parapharyngeal Abscess

A parapharyngeal abscess is a pus-filled mass that forms in the parotid glands located in front of your ears. The parotid glands are responsible for secreting saliva into the mouth. If infected material is trapped inside these glands, an abscess will form causing severe pain. In some cases the infection can travel down to your neck or jaw.

Most people get these abscesses when they have dental infections. Multiple episodes of tooth decay and/or gum disease are the usual causes of parotid abscesses. Other potential causes also include improper dental procedures, a blow to the face and even head or neck tumors.

Retropharyngeal abscess: What you need to know

Infection in the back of your throat is a rare but severe health risk. It can lead to life-threatening complications without immediate medical attention. If you have certain risk factors, such as a history of poor dental hygiene or diabetes, you are at an even higher risk of developing retropharyngeal abscess. If you experience swelling in the back of your throat, seek medical attention immediately.

What is a retropharyngeal abscess?

A retropharyngeal abscess is a pus-filled lump that forms in your throat behind your tongue and tonsils. This condition occurs when infected material, such as food or bacteria, gets caught inside your throat. The infection causes swelling in the retropharynx, which is the area behind your tongue and tonsils. If left untreated, the pus will continue to spread until it reaches your eyes, brain or other vital organs.

Who is at risk of developing a retropharyngeal abscess?

Men are more likely than women to develop a retropharyngeal abscess. Most patients who get this condition are between the ages of 20 and 40, but it can develop in younger or older people as well. Certain behaviors that can lead to infection, such as poor dental hygiene, are also risk factors. Additionally, uncontrolled diabetes or other debilitating illnesses may increase your chances of getting a retropharyngeal abscess.

What are the symptoms of a retropharyngeal abscess?

The most common symptom of a retropharyngeal abscess is a swelling in the throat, although you may experience other symptoms as well. The swelling tends to cause pain in the neck and difficulty swallowing. It may also cause a fever and headache. If the pus reaches your eyes, you may experience vision problems. The pus can also reach your brain, which can cause severe headaches, neck pain and even stroke symptoms such as paralysis or blurred vision.

What are the treatment options for a retropharyngeal abscess?

Sources & references used in this article:

Retropharyngeal abscess: a clinical review by D Goldenberg, A Golz, HZ Joachims – The Journal of Laryngology & …, 1997 –

Retropharyngeal abscess management in children: current practices by ML Lalakea, AH Messner – Otolaryngology–Head and Neck …, 1999 –

Clinical features and treatment of retropharyngeal abscess in children by NC Page, EM Bauer, JEC Lieu – Otolaryngology—Head and …, 2008 –

Pediatric retropharyngeal lymphadenitis: differentiation from retropharyngeal abscess and treatment implications by SE Shefelbine, AA Mancuso… – … —Head and Neck …, 2007 –