White Spots on Tonsils

What are White Spots on Tonsils?

White Spots on Tonsils are a frightening sight to most people but shouldn’t be a cause for alarm or any fret. Tonsils are located in your mouth just behind the back of the throat and can be seen if you open your mouth out and look through a mirror.

To some people, a condition affecting the tonsil can develop and may cause complications if not treated. The tonsils may turn red, sore or swollen in the case of an infection. In more extreme cases, they develop white spots filled with pus.

White Spots on Tonsils

White spots on tonsils of a baby caused by oral thrush

Identifying the cause of white spots on you tonsil is an important aspect to consider before starting the treatment process. In most cases, the spots will just go away without necessarily having to use any treatment plan, but in critical condition, medical expertise may be of importance. Here, we will outline the various causes of white spots on the tonsils as well as their symptoms and remedies.

Causes

Tonsil stones

Tonsil stones are white fragments consisting of food particles, mucus, dead cells, and bacteria. Normally, tonsils have cells that fight off infections, but they can still be infected if the stones get blocked.

Common signs of tonsil stones include ear aches and bad breath. However, the good news is that this type of tonsil infection doesn’t require treatment unless they cause extreme discomfort leading to the need of removing them.

White Spots on Tonsils

White spots on tonsils due to tonsil stones

Oral thrush

This condition refers to a fungal infection of the throat or the mouth area. The fungus responsible for this condition is known as candida Albicans, otherwise, yeast infection. There is always a certain amount of Candida Albicans in the body, but when there is an imbalance and the levels either go up or down, then, an infection that alters the sensitivity of the taste glands, occurs.

Strep throat or pharyngitis

These are similar conditions that also cause the appearance of white spots on the tonsils. The former condition is much worse than the latter as it is caused by the strep bacteria which brings about signs such as chills, sore throat, difficulty when swallowing, fever, and in some cases, nausea and vomiting.

For treatment, the efficient prescription is antibiotics. If left untreated, strep throat can progressively worsen and make the condition more deadly by entering the bloodstream. On the other hand, Pharyngitis is caused by a virus. This means antibiotics cannot be efficient in the treatment process. The best remedy is gargling salt water.

Viral pharyngitis

This is an infection targeting the pharynx or tonsil parts of the body. When infected, these parts swell and form pus that appears as white patches. If the condition is brought about by a bacteria, antibiotics will work best as remedies. If it is viral, no need to worry as it will clear away by itself.

Tonsillitis

This refers to the inflammation of the tonsils accompanied by high fever and pain when swallowing food. Pus in the white spots is an indicator of a bacterial or viral infection. Other symptoms may include stiff neck and headaches. If it is established that the cause is a bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed. If tonsillitis persists, then, there is a high probability that the doctor will advise on removing the tonsils completely.

Mononucleosis

This is condition is caused by a virus that causes persistent tiredness, fever, and headaches. The condition also known as Mono or the Kissing disease is also characterized by pus-covered tonsils and sore throats.

Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a respiratory condition that affects the breathing and the upper parts of the digestive system such as the mouth and the gullet. It is brought about by a bacteria which is characterized by fever, inflamed nodes, and difficulty swallowing and breathing.

In the early stages, the condition occurs as a grey-white layer, or a white patch covering some parts pf the tonsils. Children under the age of five have high chances of getting infected, but the good news is that there is a vaccine that can prevent it.

Vincent’s angina

This refers to an ulcer formation in the pharynx, tonsils, or oral cavity. The sores will begin in the gums and then progress to other parts. Eventually, they will burst out and bleed forming the white patches around the tonsils. The best medication for this condition is the use of antibiotics.

STDs

Some sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and HIV/AIDS can cause white spots on the tonsils. Symptoms associated with this kind of infection include allover pain, fever, sore throat, mouth sores, nausea, itchy mouth, swollen uvula, swollen gums, and swollen lymph nodes.

Smoking and leukoplakia

A risk of acquiring a precancerous infection referred to as leukoplakia can be increased through excessive smoking. The infection while at its early stages is characterized by white patches on the tongue, mouth, and tonsils. The white patches can always be resolved through cessation, but your physician may choose to scrap them off in case they are cancerous.

Other associated conditions

White spots on tonsils but no fever: Sometimes, tonsil stone may not be accompanied by other symptoms apart from the physical presence of the white patches. Also, tonsillitis may occur without the presence of fever or reddening of the tonsils. Even if you are not suffering from either of the conditions but you still notice white patches or spots on your tonsil, you will want to go to see a doctor for advanced diagnosis of tonsil stones.

White spots on tonsils with no pain: An infection on the tonsil that has no pain could be as a result of malignant growth or a viral infection. Virus infection will end by themselves. You can gargle salt water to aid in the treatment process.

White spots on tonsils due to allergies: In some occasions, white spots on the tonsils may be as a result of seasonal allergies occurring as post-nasal drips. Treating such allergies is a positive step towards healing the white patches.

Treatment

White spots arising as a result of bacterial or fungal infection can be treated using antibiotics or antifungal medications respectively. Infections caused by a virus are non-threating and can go away by themselves. Alternatively, the following general tips can help you to get rid white spots on tonsils.

  • Gargling salt water
  • Drinking warm fluids to ease throat pain
  • A lot of rest
  • Avoid cigarette smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat smooth foods such as yoghurt
  • Suck on lozenges
  • Avoid spicy and other irritating foods such as chips and other highly acidic foods
  • Use a cool mist humidifier in the house
  • Only use over-the-counter pain relievers.

By incorporating some of these tips, you can reduce or prevent white spots on your tonsils as well as other associated symptoms.

Pictures

White Spots on Tonsils

White Patches on Tonsils

White Patches on Tonsils 2

References

  1. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, University of Illinois, McKinley Health Center, http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/chlamydia_gonorrhea.html.
  2. Tonsillitis: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Tonsillitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  3. Tonsillolith: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonsillolith, an updated of 29 July 2016 at 14:27, accessed on August 3rd
  4. Oral Thrush in Babies, NHS choices, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Oral-thrush—babies/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  5. What Can Cause White Spots On Tonsils? The Most Common Causes, Further Reading http://whitespotson.com/causes-of-white-spots-on-tonsils/, last reviewed on 19 July 2016, accessed on 3rd August 2016.
  6. Tonsillitis: http://patient.info/health/tonsillitis-leaflet.
  7. Tonsillitis, American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsillitis, last update 1/11. Accessed on May, 3 2016.

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