Swollen tonsils • cause, symptoms, and treatment

Swollen tonsils are uncomfortable and painful. Often, tonsillitis is behind it. But there are also other diseases that cause similar symptoms. Read here what these are, how swollen tonsils are treated and what else helps.

At a glance:

Sore throat: which home remedies help?

What are the almonds and what are they good for?

The tonsils (tonsils) are lymphatic organs and therefore an important part of the body’s defenses. They are located in the mouth and throat and stop pathogens there from entering through the mouth or nose. This works because they form so-called lymphocytes. Their main task is to recognize viruses, bacteria and fungi and to eliminate them. There are four almonds in total:

  • Two tonsils
  • A pharynx
  • A tongue almond

Only the two tonsils are visible and recognizable in the open mouth. They lie on the left and right behind the row of teeth in the palatal arch. The pharynx and tongue tonsils, on the other hand, cannot be seen with the naked eye.

When one speaks of swollen tonsils, the palatine tonsils are usually meant. They can become infected and then swell. In children, however, the tonsils and tonsils can also be very enlarged due to their development. This can hinder breathing, but an illness is not responsible for it.

What do swollen tonsils look like?

The palatine tonsils are left and right in the throat. They are very flat and hard to see. The mucous membrane is pale pink. However, if the tonsils are swollen, for example due to tonsillitis, they protrude significantly. You can see them clearly when you look in the mirror. They are also very red.

Causes: why do swollen tonsils develop?

Swollen tonsils can have many causes. The most common is tonsillitis, also called tonsillitis or angina tonsillaris. Furthermore, swollen tonsils can also occur with a sore throat, with Pfeiffer’s glandular fever or with a scarlet fever infection.

Most common cause: tonsillitis

A tonsillitis is mainly caused by viruses, less often by bacteria such as streptococci. The pathogens are transmitted by droplet infection and thus reach the mucous membranes of other people. Typical of tonsillitis are reddened and swollen tonsils, which cause difficulty swallowing. In addition, you may experience a sore throat, fever and fatigue, or the lymph nodes in the neck may swell. Often white-yellowish deposits, so-called stipples, appear on the tonsils.

When tonsillitis is found, both tonsils are usually affected. If swollen tonsils appear on one side, then it is a very rare form of tonsillitis, the so-called Angina Plaunt-Vincet. This is triggered by bacteria. In addition to the one-sided swelling, there are also gray-greenish coatings on the affected almond, which are associated with strong bad breath.

Tonsillitis mainly affects children. Most often it occurs in school age. In principle, however, it can occur at any age and repeat itself more often in the course of life.

Other causes of swollen tonsils

  • Sore throat: Swollen tonsils can also occur with inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis). This is a painful inflammation of the lining of the throat, which mainly affects the soft palate, tonsils and the walls of the throat. Cold viruses such as rhino or corona viruses are often the cause. But bacteria can also cause pharyngitis. A sore throat is the most common in the case of a sore throat. In addition, the lining of the throat is red, the tonsils are swollen, and swallowing is uncomfortable and painful. Fever can also occur. The inflammation usually heals on its own, but sometimes it can also be the preliminary stage of tonsillitis.

  • Glandular Pfeiffer fever: Pfeiffer’s glandular fever, also known as infectious mononucleosis, is an infectious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. The virus belongs to the group of herpes viruses and is spread all over the world. The disease is correspondingly common, especially in adolescents and young adults. With Pfeiffer’s glandular fever, many different symptoms occur, such as fever, severe swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and neck or flu-like symptoms and fatigue. Since the throat area is also inflamed with the disease, the tonsils are also often attacked. They are swollen and a gray film forms that causes bad breath. Numerous other symptoms can also occur. It takes up to three weeks for the disease to be over. Sick people can still feel exhausted weeks later. Affected people remain carriers of the pathogen for the rest of their lives. This can cause the disease to recur. As a rule, however, it then runs without symptoms.

  • Scarlet fever: This is an infectious bacterial disease caused by streptococci and is highly contagious. It is considered a classic childhood disease because it is mainly children who are infected. However, scarlet fever can occasionally occur in adults. The disease usually begins with a headache, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, chills and rapidly rising fever. The lymph nodes on the neck swell strongly and the tonsils are swollen and coated with white. After a few days, an itchy rash forms and spreads all over the body. Also typical is the so-called raspberry tongue, which turns red after a few days. Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics. Then the symptoms often subside quickly. If left untreated, scarlet fever remains contagious for up to three weeks.

Other less common causes

Swollen tonsils can occur in other contexts, but these occur very rarely:

  • In the diphtheria swollen tonsils or tonsillitis appear as side effects of the disease. Diphtheria is a highly contagious, life-threatening bacterial infection. However, it only occurs very rarely in Germany because most people in this country are protected by a vaccination.

  • aphten do not cause swollen tonsils, but can be confused with. Aphthae are small inflammatory ulcers on the mucous membrane that can appear anywhere in the mouth – including the tonsils. Since canker sores are very painful, this often leads to swallowing difficulties. Sitting on an almond can feel like a sore throat or swollen tonsils. However, canker sores are harmless and will go away on their own after a few days.

  • That swollen tonsils indicate an infection with the Coronavirus indicate is considered to be rather unlikely. According to the Robert Koch Institute, a corona infection can cause sore throats. However, swollen tonsils are not among the symptoms that have been observed in this context.

Enlarged tonsils in children

If a child complains of swollen tonsils without pain, it could be due to enlarged tonsils. Many children are affected. The tonsils, the pharynx or both can be enlarged. The reasons for this are unclear. It is assumed, however, that the enlarged tonsils are a side effect of the growth. They regress with age. Some children may snore at night due to the enlarged tonsils. Breathing interruptions while sleeping can also be a result. Most children are not affected by this.

Signs and symptoms of swollen tonsils

Depending on the cause, there may be other symptoms or signs of illness in addition to the swollen tonsils. These include:


  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing and swallowing pain
  • Toppings on the almonds
  • Lumpy language
  • fever
  • headache
  • Exhaustion and tiredness
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Swollen tonsils or a slight tonsillitis do not necessarily have to be examined by a doctor. Rest, drinking plenty of fluids and pain relievers often help to relieve the symptoms. If the swollen tonsils are associated with a high fever, very severe pain and other symptoms, or if the symptoms do not go away on their own, you should consult your general practitioner or have an ENT examination.

What helps against swollen tonsils?

Treatment for swollen tonsils depends on the cause. If viruses are the trigger, antipyretic and analgesic agents such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be used. Bacterial diseases, on the other hand, are treated with antibiotics.

If you feel tired and tired because of swollen tonsils, you should treat yourself to rest and plenty of sleep. Classic home remedies can also help to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Drink a lot to moisten the mucous membranes. Cold or warm drinks can be perceived as beneficial. Sage or thyme tea also have a pain-relieving effect.
  • Gargle with salt water or sage tea
  • Pain relieving lozenges
19 natural antibiotics against bacteria

Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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