Getting detected with white spots on tonsils can be quite an alarming and of concern, but may not be much of a reason to fret on. Tonsils are present at the back of the throat and can be seen if you open the mouth widely. Tonsils may be infected and become sore, red, and painful or might also develop white spots (which might be because of development of pus). Many times a condition may develop in which you might have to get the tonsils removed surgically.
White spots on tonsils are caused because of various reasons and it is very important to get acquainted with them, for better treatment. Most of the time they disappear on their own but often may require medical intervention.
- 1 Causes and symptoms of White spots on tonsils
- 1.1 When to see a doctor if White spots on tonsils
- 1.2 Treatment Plan of White spots on tonsils
- 1.3 Precautions of White spots on tonsils
Causes and symptoms of White spots on tonsils
White spots on the tonsils may be due to bacterial or viral infections. Below are mentioned few conditions of the throat where you may observe white patches.
• Strep throat
Streptococcus bacteria are a most common reason for white spots on the tonsils. This bacterium often spreads if a person comes in contact with the droplets from the infected person sneeze or a cough. Following are the symptoms patients with strep throat usually suffers from.
- Soreness in throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- White spots on the tonsils
Strep throat if left untreated can worsen and the bacteria can enter the bloodstream leading to fatal conditions.
Inflammation of tonsils is known as tonsillitis. It can be either bacterial or viral infection. When the tonsils fight against the infection they swell and produce white pus. The patient generally presents following symptoms.
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Redness and white spots on tonsils
- A headache
- Stiffness in neck
Pharyngitis is a throat inflammation caused by either bacterial or viral infection. It’s a very common illness and can lead to the development of white spots in the throat. The spots in pharyngitis are not very intense and well-formed. The symptoms include,
- Pain in throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes
• Oral Thrush
It is a fungal infection of mouth and throat caused by the fungus Candida Albicans (yeast infection). Oral thrush is more common in people with suppressed immune systems, diabetics, and people who have been on antibiotics.
Some level of Candida Albicans is always present in the body. The imbalance leads to an increase in the level leading to infection. The symptoms are as follows,
- The white patchy appearance of mouth, tongue, and throat
- Altered taste in the mouth
- Digestive problems
A respiratory infection which affects nostrils and throat is known as diphtheria. It is a bacterial infection. Children over 5 years of age are at an increased risk but there is a vaccine to prevent it. The symptoms include,
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficult respiration
- Grey- white layer in the tonsils
It’s an infectious disease caused by Epstein-Barr virus. The infection spreads through saliva, which is why the disease is also known as ‘the kissing disease’. Mononucleosis most commonly affects the teens.
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It often gets confused with strep throat due to a similarity in symptoms and is therefore difficult to diagnose. The symptoms noticed most commonly in mononucleosis are,
- White patches or pus around the tonsils
- Body rashes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swelling in lymph nodes
• Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths
Tonsil stones are the white stone-like bumps which appear in the tonsils. These bumps bedded in the tonsils are also known as tonsilloliths. These are compiled of bacteria, food particles, dead cells, and mucous, which get trapped and calcify and form white bumps on the tonsils.
The patient does not show signs of a fever unless there is an infection along with the tonsil stones. Apart from white spots the other symptoms, a patient suffering from tonsil stones present are,
- Bad breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
Tonsil stone does not generally require any treatment as they are not of much discomfort or distress.
Leukoplakia is a precancerous condition of oral cancer, is caused due to excessive smoking habits. Squamous cell carcinoma can develop in the areas of mouth with are affected with leukoplakia. Smokers, tobacco chewers and people have poorly fitted dentures are at an increased risk.
The Epstein-Barr virus can also lead to oral hairy leukoplakia in a person who has a weak immune system. The symptom presented is
- White patches in mouth tongue and throat
Quitting smoking can resolve the white patches. If cancerous the doctor often scrapes them off.
• Sexually transmitted diseases
Many sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, and HIV lead to white spots on the tonsils. Other symptoms presented by the patients with STD are,
- Swollen gums
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swelling in uvula
- Loss of appetite
- A sore throat
- Body aches
- Mouth sores
• Tonsillar cancer
Tonsillar cancer is a type of oral cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma. The symptoms presented by the patient suffering from cancer of tonsil are,
- Soreness at the back of the throat which does not heal.
- Mouth pain
- Blood in saliva
- Lump in neck
- Severe Earache
- A persistent sore throat
Many times the above conditions may appear with the absence of one or two of their presenting symptoms. Such as tonsillitis could occur without fever or the tonsil stones could develop without any other symptom other than white spots.
Presence of white spots without pain could also be a malignant growth or just a self-limiting viral infection. It is always good to consult a doctor who can confirm the diagnosis and so can direct you to the most effective treatment plan.
When to see a doctor if White spots on tonsils
Most of the conditions of a sore throat can easily be treated at home by the simple home remedies. Many viral infections are self-limiting. They have a duration which when completed the symptoms calm down.
But if you observe white spots on tonsils along with the below-listed symptoms, a visit to a doctor can always calm down the anxiety which comes up due to the awareness of the various causes.
- Sudden soreness of throat
- Fever with chills
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pus in the tonsils
Treatment Plan of White spots on tonsils
The treatment plan depends on the cause of the white spots. Few of the common treatments are listed below,
Antibiotics and antifungal medications are given to the patients depending on the type of infection.
If the tonsils are causing discomfort then the doctor may start the medication. He may take a sample of the pus from the tonsil to determine the type of infection.
In case of Candida, anti-fungal medications are prescribed.
Tonsillitis and strep throat are treated using antibiotics.
If the infection is viral, the antibiotics or the antifungal medications would be of no relief. In such cases, the anti-viral medications are used to ease the pain and reduce the symptoms. The doctor may even prescribe corticosteroid medications to reduce the symptoms such as swelling and pain in tonsils.
3. Gels and creams
Gels, creams or ointments are the topical medications given if the patient is suffering from oral thrush. The use of antibiotic or the corticosteroid causing thrush should be restricted or reduced.
In case the infected tonsils do not respond to the treatment or if the tonsils get infected frequently and the swelling leads to breathing difficulty, the doctor may advise tonsillectomy.
Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure for the removal of tonsils. It is a one-day surgery and the recovery time is one or two weeks. During this period the throat may feel sore and you may be given a restricted diet to avoid any kind of irritation in the surgical area.
There are few other techniques which are used to evaporate the tonsils such as radio waves, laser, and electrocautery.
5. Diet to boost the immune system
A strong immune system is very important to fight any kind of infection and also raise you up from the fatigue and malaise fast. The boost to the immune system can be brought on by a good diet.
Food rich in vitamin C plays a big role in it. Tomatoes, raw potatoes, sour cabbage, lemon, and other fruits and vegetables, can be a good source of vitamin C and other vitamin and minerals.
Eating healthy oils found in fish also helps in boosting the immune system. You can cook a fish every day or can even consume cod liver oil (the best product to boost the immune system).
Not just fish oil, olive oil, and oil extracted from wine grapes and flax seed oil are also very good to consume for a healthy immune system. These oils also contain phytosterols which protect you from cancer and is therefore strongly recommended for a person who has white spots because of leukoplakia.
6. Home remedies
There are various simple home remedies which can be used along with the medications and prove to be of immense help in the treatment of white patches in the tonsils.
- Honey and lemon juice : Lemon and honey are known for their antibacterial properties. Mix honey and lemon in water and take it in sips. It is of great help in soothing a sore throat. Sugar intake should be reduced. This proves to be the most effective remedy if the white spots are because of oral thrush.
- Chamomile and honey tea : Similar to honey, chamomile also is a well-known antibacterial agent. Chamomile tea and honey mixed together help in clearing up the bacterial infection.
- Cold compress : The swelling of tonsils can be brought down using the cold compress on the neck. If the white spots are related to the swelling of the tonsil, reducing the swelling can also help fade them away.
- Warm salty water : Warm saline water gargle helps sooth the sore throat and also fights bacterial infection. It should be done at least 5-6 times in a day.
- Oregano oil : Oregano oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties and is therefore of immense help in fighting against viral and bacterial infections. A small dose of oregano oil can be taken with plenty of water to reap the benefits.
- Licorice root : It is a herb which has been used in the treatment of throat infections since long. It has moisturizing properties which relieve the pain in the mouth cavity.
It can be purchased in the form of ready-to-use licorice extract or in the form of herbal tea. Take a teaspoon of herb in water and boil it for some time. Cool it and drink it at least twice in a day.
- Garlic : Garlic is also an anti-bacterial agent. It can be taken with everyday food, in cooked or mashed up form.
- Baking soda : A small pinch of baking soda in warm water can be taken every day to prevent throat infections.
Precautions of White spots on tonsils
As we all know that prevention is always better than cure, simple precautions can help reduce the white spots in tonsils.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. People who smoke or chew tobacco are at an increased risk of developing white patches in the tongue and throat.
- Avoid excessive spicy and hot food. Acidic food can also worsen the condition.
- Drink plenty of water to reduce the recurrence of fever. It also helps fight the throat infection.
- Humidify the house, as dryness increases the irritation in the throat. You can use a cool mist humidifier in the house.
- Take plenty of rest, as it helps in giving a boost to the immune system of the body.
It is always good to be known about your disease and their remedies. But it is advisable to get treated by the specialist if the symptoms start. It’s your body and you must take care of it.
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