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Enlarged Tonsils

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is Enlarged Tonsils?

Enlarged tonsil is an increase in size from the average size of tonsil. Incidence of enlarged tonsils can affect anyone without sexual and racial predilection. The enlargement of tonsils does not necessarily mean an immediate problem although people suffering from it must be evaluated medically by health professionals to identify the underlying condition resulting to the incidence.

Tonsil is a glandular tissue of the throat composed of collection of lymphoid tissue. The function of this gland is in association with the lymphatic system in warding off infections. The human body consists of three pairs of tonsils which are:

  1. Adenoids or pharyngeal tonsils – sponge like tissue situated on the upper part of the throat and in the nasopharynx adjacent to the Eustachian tubes.
  2. Lingual tonsils – pair of tissues situated at the back of the tongue.
  3. Palatine tonsils – pair of visible tonsils located behind the throat and is usually referred to in the term tonsillitis.

The main function of tonsils is to protect the body from ingesting and inhaling foreign materials through the nose and mouth. Although acting as protective barrier, tonsils are also subject to infection and other injury which can cause for the gland to enlarge.

Symptoms of Enlarged Tonsils

Tonsils enlargement may occur without any symptoms although there are tell-tale signs that can raise suspicion of enlargement. Medical evaluation is thus, needed to determine the factor influencing the increase in size of tonsils.

Difficulty in breathing is experienced which usually takes an extra effort to breathe either or both through the nose and mouth. Breathing is also made difficult with lying down or even during at rest and may also interfere with sleep as the patient maybe disturbed from difficulty in breathing.

Snoring is observable while breathing during sleep. This is a condition caused by vibration of soft tissues at the back of the throat during the breathing process when the air passes all the way to the upper airway.

Runny nose can be experienced by individual with enlarged tonsils. This is mainly due to an irritation in the nasal passages resulting from the enlarged tonsils.

Ear pain is perceived when a person is suffering from enlarged tonsils. The discomfort can be felt in both the inner and outer era.

Sinus congestion is a blockage in the normal flow of air in passageways. The congestion in the nose or the sinuses is brought by collection and formation of mucus. The enlargement of tonsils can also contribute for the congestion when the increase in size disrupts the flow of mucus away from the nasal or sinuses.

Excessive salivation can be observed in children suffering from tonsils enlargement. This is often the result of a disruption in the salivary gland which can get affected with the enlargement of tonsils.

Excessive drooling is normal to infants while it is unusual to children and adults. This is usually due from difficulty in swallowing which can occur when tonsils are enlarged including other factors that can disrupt the normal process of swallowing.

Enlarged Tonsils Causes

An incidence of enlarged tonsils is usually not a problem although it is advisable to seek medical consultation to be evaluated for the existing underlying condition that contributed for the enlargement of tonsils. Increase in size of tonsils can be implicated with various medical condition where enlargement may play a significant role in manifesting an existing medical condition. Such conditions that can affect the tonsils to increase in size may include the following:

Nose Bleeds

Frequent nose bleeding is rarely harmful but can be alarming to many. The occurrence of nose bleeding can irritate the tonsils which can lead to its enlargement.

Ear Infections

Ear infection contributes to the enlargement of tonsils when the causative agent has reached and invaded the areas of the throat including the tonsils.


Tonsillitis is so far, the most implicated for the throat gland to enlarge. It is mainly an inflammation of the tonsils resulting from infection and any other form of injury directed towards the throat and the adjacent parts. The infection results to inflammation of the tonsils that leads to the increase from its normal average size. The development of tonsillitis is usually due from an infection with bacteria or virus. The most common bacteria causing tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes or group A Streptococcus.

Enlarged Tonsils Treatment

The aim of treatment in enlarged tonsils is reducing its size back to normal to facilitate proper airway passages and breathing while preventing further medical complications.

Tonsil enlargement that resulted from infection is mainly treated with oral antibiotics. Antibiotics usually prescribed are the likes of Penicillin, Azithromycin, Clarithromycin and Amoxicillin. Non-steroidal drugs are also prescribed for the cure and treatment.

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils indicated for persistent enlargement of tonsils despite medical treatment. It is also recommended when the enlargement of tonsils interferes and causing obstruction with the airway passage putting the life of the patient in danger.

Enlargement of tonsils can be managed and treated although the treatment is directed towards the underlying condition contributing to the incidence. It is however, important that a doctor be consulted when sign and symptoms are present and observed.

Enlarged Tonsils Pictures

Collection of photos, images and pictures of enlarged tonsils…

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enlarged tonsils pictures

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