10 Reasons Why Your Tonsils May Be Swollen

Because tonsils were removed so frequently in the past, many people think they serve no purpose. To the contrary, our tonsils are part of the lymphatic system, which helps us to avoid infections and aid in the fight against viruses and bacteria from entering our body. The tonsils themselves can become inflamed, infected, and swollen, and there are at least 10 reasons why.

Viral Infections Causing Your Tonsils to Become Swollen

Swollen and inflamed tonsils is known as tonsillitis. Although this condition is usually more common in children, adults can also get tonsillitis. When accompanied by fever, weight loss, lumps in the neck or elsewhere in the body, and if it becomes a chronic problem, adults should see an experienced ENT specialist like Georgetown ENT right away for treatment.

Viral infections causing swollen tonsils include the following:

  • Adenovirus is the virus that causes the common cold, which is usually accompanied by a sore throat and sometimes bronchitis.
  • Known as the “kissing disease,”  mono or Epstein-Barr is caused by infected saliva.
  • The HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus can lead to cracked blisters on the tonsils.Close up of woman touches fingers of sore throat
  • HHV-5 is a virus which stays dormant in the body, but will flare up in a person with a compromised immune system. This can also occur in pregnant women.
  • Measles is a very contagious virus affecting the respiratory system.

Bacterial Infections Are Another Possible Cause

Less common are swollen and inflamed tonsils caused by bacteria, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Getting a proper diagnosis is essential to receiving appropriate and effective treatment.

  • Streptococcus bacteria is the cause of strep throat. It leads to inflammation of the tonsils, difficulty swallowing, opening one’s mouth, and bad breath. If not treated properly with antibiotics, strep can lead to rheumatic fever, especially in young children, which is an inflammatory disorder that affects the heart, joints, and other tissues in the body. In addition, there is an increased risk of poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis, which is a kidney disorder.

Other Causes for Swollen Tonsils

  • Your tonsils can swell and become inflamed due to allergies.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) may also cause swollen tonsils. Syphilis can cause sores in the mouth, and gonorrhea causes burning and sores.
  • LPR reflux disease causes acid to back up into the throat leading to irritation, swollen tonsils, a constant need to clear one’s throat, coughing, and trouble swallowing.
  • Cancer in the tonsils or throat can develop due to the HPV virus.

Contact Georgetown ENT if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of swollen tonsils, or if this is a chronic problem.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (512) 869-0604 or request an appointment online today!


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