Causes of Inflamed Tonsils

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Our tonsils are located at the back of the throat and are a part of the lymphatic system that helps to keep us safe from diseases. Unfortunately, they are prone to becoming inflamed, and this can be very painful. This is especially the case in young children.

There are a number of factors that can cause inflamed tonsils, most of which are diseases. Treatment depends on the underlying causes, and the condition will usually be gone within 2 weeks or so. Despite the discomfort it can cause, it is not a dangerous condition in itself, although the underlying causes is sometimes something that can be a danger to us.

1. Rhinovirus

The rhinovirus is the most common of all viruses that can infect people. It gets its name from the Latin word “rhinos,” which means “nose.” It is the most common cause of the common cold, and the vast majority of people will have had a cold at least once in their life.

Rhinovirus infections tend to cause relatively mild symptoms, including nasal congestion, a runny nose, fever and, in some cases, inflamed tonsils. The virus is harmless in all people except for the very weak, and patients will usually make a full recovery in a few days or so with no lasting damage caused.

Inflamed Tonsils

2. Adenoviruses

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are also fairly common and, thankfully, not usually dangerous to us. They are another cause of the common cold, and can also cause sore throats, inflamed tonsils, and bronchitis. In addition, adenoviruses can affect the eyes, lungs, nervous system, urinary tract, and intestines.

The symptoms are usually only mild and patients will usually make a full recovery in a few days or so. Adenovirus infections occur more often in children but adults can also get infected. Most people will have been infected by an adenovirus by the time they are 10 years old.

3. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1

When people think of herpes, they will often think of the sexually transmitted variety. There is also an oral variety, however, and it is another common virus that many people will have encountered at some point in their lives.

The oral variety is HSV-1, as opposed to HSV-2, and is a common cause of cold sores and fever blisters. HSV-1 can also cause other symptoms like inflamed tonsils and a fever. While it cannot be cured, treatment is available that can at least help to reduce discomfort caused by the symptoms. It is spread through an infected person’s saliva, and it is thought that pretty much all adults will have contracted the virus at some point.

Inflamed Tonsils

4. Cytomegalovirus

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is another type of herpes virus. It is another common virus and is also usually harmless. The only times it is likely to be a problem is in babies whose mother contracted the virus while pregnant, or in people whose immune system have been compromised.

Symptoms are generally quite mild, and include fever, fatigue, sore throat, swollen glands, and inflamed tonsils. Symptoms will usually clear up within 3 weeks or so, while many people with the virus will show no symptoms whatsoever. The patient will remain infected for the rest of their lives regardless of whether or not they show symptoms.

5. Epstein-Barr Virus

The Epstein-Barr virus us another common virus that is responsible for mononucleosis, or mono for short. Mono is also often referred to as the kissing disease because it is often spread from person to person by kissing. It can also be transmitted through contact with utensils and glasses.

Symptoms of Mono include enlarged spleen, fever, rash, profound fatigue, swollen glands, and inflamed tonsils. Most people will make a full recovery within 2-4 weeks, although fatigue can linger in some cases. Many people have been infected with the virus, and most of those infected will never show symptoms.

Inflamed Tonsils

6. Strep Throat

Strep throat is a disease that is caused by the group A streptococcus bacterium. It is a fairly common disease and is especially common in children, although it can affect adults as well. Symptoms include headaches, a fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, and inflamed tonsils.

Strep throat is not dangerous itself but patients should still be found appropriate treatment as soon as possible. This is because, if left untreated, it can develop into scarlet fever or rheumatic fever, both of which are worse. Treatment is achieved with help from antibiotics, and the patients symptoms are also treated.

7. Measles

Measles is a highly contagious disease that has seen somewhat of a comeback in recent years. The comeback is a result of many people choosing not to allow their children to be vaccinated. It is spread through mucus and saliva, and it is more likely to affect children, although people of all ages can catch the disease.

Measles will cause symptoms including sneezing, a runny nose, fever, a cough, white spots in the mouth, aches and pains, a distinctive rash, and inflamed tonsils. In addition, it can lead to further complications that are potentially fatal so it should be treated as serious as soon as it is diagnosed.

Inflamed Tonsils

8. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a type of infection of the liver. It is not common in the West but you are more likely to contract it in developing countries where hygiene standards tend to be lower. It is usually spread through food and drink contaminated with the feces of somebody infected with the disease.

It is also sometimes transmitted through sexual intercourse, and sharing needles. Symptoms of hepatitis A include a loss of appetites, nausea, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, itchy skin, and inflamed tonsils. The condition is not usually dangerous, even if it does cause some unpleasant symptoms, and the symptoms will usually pass within 2 months.


Aids is a deadly disease that arises in people that have been infected by the HIV virus. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and it causes the patients immune system to become ineffective.

This then means that the patient will fall ill to disease far easier than usual, and even otherwise mild diseases can be a danger to them. There is a wide range of symptoms that can be caused by AIDS, and inflamed tonsils is one of them. There is as yet no cure for the disease, but we are becoming increasingly effective at prolonging and improving the patients life.

10. Risk Factors

Pretty much anybody can develop inflamed tonsils, but some people are more likely to develop the condition than others are.

Those most likely to get it are school children, and this is largely because children tend to spend much of the day in close proximity to other children. Thus, the pathogens that cause the condition are more likely to be spread from person to person. Adults can also get inflamed tonsils, and those most at risk are those more likely to be exposed to certain pathogens. Certain environmental conditions like air pollution can also mean somebody is more likely to develop inflamed tonsils.

Inflamed Tonsils

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