What are the signs of tonsil problems?

Tonsil symptoms include pain, inflammation, and redness in the throat. These symptoms can affect any of the three main types of tonsils: the adenoids (pharyngeal tonsils), which rest near the back of the nasal cavity; the palatine tonsils, which you can see hanging at the back on each side of the throat; and the lingual tonsils, which are under the base of your tongue.

Tonsils act as filters against harmful bacteria and other germs entering the body through the mouth and nose. The tonsils prevent these germs from causing infection by trapping them and allowing the body’s immune system time to react.

The types of disorders that can cause tonsil symptoms include pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and, in rare cases, throat cancer. Inflammation of the throat is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. A common bacterial infection of the throat, known as strep throat, is due to Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus. Infectious mononucleosis is a type of viral infection that produces characteristic throat pain and tonsil symptoms.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as choking or severe difficulty breathing, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), sudden swelling of the tongue or throat structures, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or a change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions.

Seek prompt medical care if your tonsils are not the same size or you have sores that will not heal, blood in your saliva, bad breath, severe ear pain, pain with swallowing or difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, pus or white patches at the back of your throat, swollen or painful lymph nodes in your neck, or a sore throat accompanied by red, rough skin rash. Also seek prompt medical care if a child with sore throat exhibits excessive drooling (to avoid swallowing) or if you are being treated for tonsillitis but symptoms recur or are persistent.


What other symptoms might occur with tonsil symptoms?

You may experience tonsil symptoms for several weeks at a time, even with treatment.

Throat and mouth symptoms that may occur along with tonsil symptoms

Tonsil symptoms may accompany other symptoms affecting the throat and mouth including:


What causes tonsil symptoms?

Among the most common causes of tonsil symptoms are infectious diseases, certain cancers, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Infectious causes of tonsil symptoms

Tonsil symptoms may be caused by infectious disorders including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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