Swollen tonsils (tonsillitis) can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. The tonsils are two lymph nodes located on either side of the back of your throat. Their main function is to help the body ward off infection. But sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected and this results in tonsillitis.
Common symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, swollen tonsils, and fever, but we will go into more depth about swollen tonsil symptoms later on.
Tonsillitis is very contagious as it is commonly caused by bacteria. If left untreated, tonsillitis can result in complications, so seeing a doctor at the first sign of swollen tonsils is advised.
Here we will outline the common causes of tonsillitis along with the symptoms and home remedies you can utilize to help speed up recovery.
Causes of swollen tonsils
Tonsils can become infected by bacteria or virus, which is what contributes to swollen tonsil pain and other related symptoms. Common infections that can lead to swollen tonsils include strep throat, common cold, mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus, measles, and peritonsillar abscess.
Rarer, chronic causes of tonsillitis include cancer and cryptic tonsils – or tonsil stones.
Although tonsillitis can be a stand-alone condition, it can accompany other conditions and be a symptom, too.
If tonsillitis is chronic and recurring, then your doctor will opt to remove your tonsils.
Signs and symptoms of swollen tonsils
Common and typical signs and symptoms of swollen tonsils include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and red and swollen tonsils. Other symptoms can accompany swollen tonsils including a high fever, coughing, headache, earache, general feeling of unwell, fatigue, low energy, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, loss of voice, or pitch changes in the voice.
You may even notice pus or a coating on your tonsils, along with bad breath, stiff neck, and a stomach ache. Symptoms are usually related to the infection that caused the swollen tonsils or another illness taking place at the same time.
You should see a doctor for swollen tonsils if the sore throat doesn’t go away after 48 hours, if swallowing is painful or difficult, if you experience extreme weakness or fatigue, if your breathing becomes difficult, or if you’re drooling.
Treatment and home remedies for swollen tonsils
Home remedies for swollen tonsils can help ease symptoms while also aiding in a speedy recovery. Depending on the cause of your swollen tonsils, your doctor may prescribe medications, or if this is a recurring problem they may book you in for a surgery to have your tonsils removed.
Here are some home remedies you can try as a means of treating swollen tonsils:
- Gargle warm salt water
- Use a room humidifier
- Drink warm beverages
- Take over-the-counter pain medications
- Avoid activities that irritate the throat like yelling or smoking
Swollen tonsils can be irritating and painful, so here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of experiencing the swollen tonsils.
- Wash your hands frequently and properly
- Avoid sharing foods, drinks, or utensils
- Replace your toothbrush if you’ve been diagnosed with tonsillitis
- Stay away from those who are visibly sick
Preventing swollen tonsils is similar to preventing the cold or flu, so as long as you practice good hygiene and keep your immune system strong you can cut your risk of painful, swollen tonsils.