What Causes Infections in the Holes in Tonsils & How is it Treated?

What are Holes in Tonsils?

Holes in Tonsils are medically termed as Tonsillar Crypts. These are absolutely normal and are a part of the anatomy of humans. However, at times, these holes tend to trap in bacteria or food particles and get blocked resulting in a variety of symptoms. There are also certain medical conditions where Holes in Tonsils can result in inflammation and cause discomforting symptoms.[1]

Anatomically speaking, the tonsils are glands located behind the throat. The function of the tonsils is to produce lymphocytes which are vital to help the body fight off infections. The tonsils also work by trapping bacteria and viruses that try to enter the body by way of mouth thus preventing infections. The term “Holes” is in fact pockets or folds in the tonsils where the two edges of the folds meet. They are a part of the body anatomy and there is nothing abnormal about it.[1]

Because of the function of entrapping bacteria and viruses, these tonsils themselves become vulnerable to infections. This happens when these holes or folds get blocked either due to bacteria or as a result of food particles or other debris. This article gives a brief overview of the potential causes and treatment options for Holes in Tonsils.[1]

What Causes Infections in the Holes in Tonsils?

What Causes Infections in the Holes in Tonsils?

As stated, there are a variety of medical conditions that can affect these tonsillar folds resulting in infections. These conditions include

Tonsillitis: This is a condition that arises due to inflammation of the tonsils. This happens most commonly due to bacteria or viruses. Tonsillitis can affect both children and adults but is seen commonly in children. In addition to the swollen glands that are clearly visible other features of tonsillitis include sore throat, pain and discomfort when swallowing food and water, and severe headache. There will also be fever along with pain in the stomach with instances of nausea and vomiting. The patient will have a general sense of malaise.[2]

Strep Throat: This is yet another common cause of infection in the Holes in Tonsils. This is mostly seen in children and is caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. Strep Throat is quite contagious and spreads quite quickly from one person to another. The primary features of Strep Throat include pain in the throat along with pain when swallowing foods. There will also be swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck. Some children also develop fever as a result of strep throat.[2]

Mononucleosis: This is a condition that also causes the holes in the tonsils to get infected or inflamed. A person with mono will have a sore throat along with tonsillar swelling, fever, fatigue, and at times rashes. Mono is again quite contagious and is seen in young adults and teenagers.[2]

Oral Hygiene: An individual with a poor oral hygiene also affects the holes in the tonsils and cause symptoms. This is because due to poor oral hygiene there is a gradual build-up of bacteria resulting in infection and inflammation. An individual with a poor oral hygiene will have bad breath, plaques on the teeth, and a white coat on the tongue.[2]

Tonsillar Stones: This develops when dead skin cells, food particles, and bacteria get trapped in these holes in the tonsils become hard and take shape of stones. Children with recurrent bouts of tonsillitis are more at risk for developing tonsillar stones than others. A child with tonsillar stones will have sore throat, bad breath, problems with swallowing, and frequent bouts of coughing.[2]

Tonsil Cancer: This is a rare instance where cancer develops in the tonsils and causes symptoms. The primary presenting feature of an tonsil cancer include sore throat that does not improve with time and medications. There will be pain in the mouth and ears. The person will have problems swallowing food. There will also be a lump in the neck.[2]

How Are The Infections in the Holes in Tonsils Treated?

Since a hole in the tonsil is a normal anatomical finding, there is no treatment given for it. However, the conditions that affect the tonsillar folds and holes will need treatment which will depend on the condition.[2]

Tonsillitis: There is no specific treatment required for this infection in the holes in tonsils and the inflammation goes down in a few days. In some cases, the physician may suggest taking over the counter pain medications and taking plenty of fluids and taking rest. However, if the symptoms do not get better even after medications and rest then it is better to consult with a physician for more aggressive treatments.[2]

Strep Throat: Again if the condition should not improve then a consultation with a physician is recommended for treatment. The physician will take a swab for culture and then based on the result will formulate a treatment plan. Antibiotic is the primary choice for treatment of strep throat so as to clear the infection in the holes of tonsils thoroughly and does not recur.[2]

Mononucleosis: The treatment for this type of infection in the holes in tonsils is based on the extent and severity of the condition. It is important for an individual with mono to drink plenty of fluids and take rest to allow the infection to calm down. The fever and discomfort will be managed by over the counter medications. It should be noted here that physicians do not recommend taking penicillin derivatives especially for treatment of mono. At times, mono causes enlargement of the spleen. If this occurs, then the patient should follow certain activity restrictions like avoiding sporting activities or rigorous physical activity.[2]

Poor Oral Hygiene: There are various activities like brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing, and staying hydrated.[2]

Tonsil Stones: The treatment for this condition depends on the size and severity of the stones. If the stones are small, then they can be managed with salt water gargles. If ineffective, then laser treatments can be used to treat the condition. In case if the stones are large then it may require surgical correction.[2]

Tonsil Cancer: The treatment for this condition depends on the type of the cancer and the extent. The treatment will involve radiation and chemotherapy or surgical resection of the primary tumor.[2]