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What Causes White Spots On The Tonsils & How To Manage It?

White Spots On The Tonsils

Tonsils are the first body part that is examined whenever a person complains of a sore throat. The tonsils form a part of the lymphatic system and are located behind the throat. Many a times, people get worried when they notice white spots on the tonsils. However, in majority of the cases these spots are caused by conditions that are quite benign and easily treated. White Spots on the Tonsils usually present themselves in the form of streaks or patches. In instances, there may also be pus present.[1]

In most of the conditions causing white spots in the tonsils, sore throat is the primary presenting symptom. This is then followed by cough and cold with drainage from the nose and fever. People also experience pain in the sinuses with problems with swallowing and chewing food. The primary causes for white spots in the tonsils are what have been explained below in the article.[1]

What Causes White Spots On The Tonsils?

What Causes White Spots On The Tonsils?

The primary cause of white spots in the tonsils is an infection due to bacteria, virus, or fungus. There is no age or gender bias for developing infections but people with a compromised immune system are more vulnerable to infections than the normal population, especially the elderly and infants. Some of the common causes for white spots in the tonsils include.[2]

Strep Throat: This is the most common cause of white spots in the tonsils. It is caused by the streptococcus bacteria. If not treated then certain complications like sinus infections and rheumatic fever can develop. Other features of a strep throat include fever, swollen neck glands, and headaches. Strep Throat is extremely common in children.[2]

Oral Thrush: This is a fungal infection that causes white spots on the tonsils. This infection is normally found in babies but can occur at any age. Certain medications have a side effect profile of causing white spots in the tonsils, especially oral steroids.[2]

Also, people who have a weak immune system are also at risk for a fungal infection like Oral Thrush that causes white spots on the tonsils. In fact, this is the only symptom that a person with Oral Thrush may develop; however, some people also have sore throat, dysphagia, and a loss of taste.[2]

Viral Tonsillitis: This condition occurs when there is an inflammation of the tonsils due to a viral infection. Other symptoms that occur with this infection include visible swelling of the tonsils, fever, pain with swallowing food, and pain in the ears. The most common viruses that cause white spots on the tonsils include rhinovirus and adenovirus.[2]

Infectious Mononucleosis: This condition is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This infection causes damage to certain red blood cells. In addition to the white spots on the tonsils, the patient will also have fever, fatigue, and sore throat. Infectious mononucleosis is extremely contagious and spreads easily from one individual to another.[2]

Tonsil Stones: This is a condition that occurs when bacteria and other debris get trapped and accumulated in one of the several gaps that are present in the tonsils. This debris then hardens and takes the shape of stones resulting in white spots on the tonsils. Primary symptoms of tonsil stones include foul odor from the mouth, pain in the ears, and pain with swallowing. Tonsil Stones are not that common and people may not even notice their presence if they do not have other symptoms and the stones are small.[2]

Some of the rare causes of white spots on the tonsils include leukoplakia, oral cancer, and oral herpes.

How To Manage White Spots On The Tonsils?

Since the causes of white spots on the tonsil are varied, the treatment for it is also quite variable. Antibiotics and antivirals are primary form of treatment for infections causing white spots on the tonsil. In case if tonsil stones are responsible for the white spots, then removal of the tonsils is the primary treatment for the condition. If a fungal infection is believed to be the cause of the condition, then antifungal treatment is given to the patient. In case if a person is prone to recurrent infection of the tonsils, then tonsillectomy is recommended in such cases.[2]

Aside from the treatments mentioned, there are also certain home remedies that can be used for treating white spots on the tonsils. These include:[2]

  • Drinking lukewarm liquids to soothe the throat
  • Over the counter pain medications for throat pain
  • Taking lot of rest till the infection clears
  • Throat lozenges to soothe throat and relieve discomfort and irritation

Generally, the white spots on the tonsils clear up once the infection is treated. However, the time taken for clearing the infection is quite variable and depends on the type of infection. It usually takes up to four weeks for the white spots on the tonsils to completely clear up.[2]


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 27, 2020

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