One swollen tonsil: causes, symptoms, treatments and medical advice

A sore throat with swelling is your tonsils talking. They might be indicating something wrong with them. But if you come to think of it, it can be just one swollen tonsil? This is due to the many underlying health problems, because of which only one swollen tonsil has occurred. There is not a list of reasons for one swollen tonsil. The three main causes of this issue will be discussed in-depth in the article.

What is a Tonsil?

This is a small organ on either side of the throat, which contains lymph node tissues. Always found in the body, as a pair of 3. They include pharyngeal tonsils or adenoids, lingual tonsils, and palatine tonsils. They play a major role in the defense mechanism of the body. The tonsils fight infections traveling in the mouth and nose. When a baby comes into this world, it takes around one year to develop a strong immune system. The swelling in tonsils usually occurs around the ages of 2 to 15. Then the doctor checks if it is one swollen tonsil or both are infected.

one swollen tonsil

What causes swollen tonsil on just one side?

Having one swollen tonsil is one of the strangest feelings, party on one side and the other suffers in agony. This is due to many other problems associated with the throat. It is very much possible to have only one swollen tonsil, because of tonsillitis, strep throat, and peritonsillar abscess. In the process, you can suffer from headaches, sore throat, fever, hoarse voice and have a difficulty swallowing. Moreover, the color of tonsil may change to red, with yellow or white spots on it. The tonsils are eliminating body toxins and harmful substances, like viruses and bacteria by trapping them. The inhaled are transported to the lymphatic system, to be destroyed by the immune system.

Be on the look for symptoms of any of these causes.


This is when the tonsils swell, orinflammation occurs. Tonsillitis can happen to both adults and young children. Children have a chance of getting it more than once. Remember, it can be due to bacterial and viral infections.

If bacterial seems to be the leading cause, then there is a risk of spreading for 10 days. Therefore, it is suggested to keep a distance from people for at least 10 days, as you are contagious. Whereas, on the other hand, the Tonsillitis caused by viral infection, can be contagious between seventh and tenth days. It is caused by many different viruses, like influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, Epstein-Barr virus, parainfluenza virus, enterovirus, and adenovirus. The main reason for bacterial infection is streptococcus bacteria.

Strep Throat:

Another major reason for having only one swollen tonsil is streptococcus. A condition is prevalent among children aged five to fifteen. It can affect any age bracket, so don’t be entirely careless, because of it highly contagious. The easiest form of transfer from one person to another is by coughing and sneezing. Strep Throat causes inflammation and severe swelling. Remember, before a visible symptoms show the person you are in contact with, can have streptococcus bacteria ready to spread. Even a friendly handshake could be your ticket to the doctor or bed rest.

Peritonsillar Abscess

Quinsy or Peritonsillar Abscess is a serious health issue. Quinsy can be the next reason for the one swollen tonsil in your throat. When a case of tonsillitis worsens or complicates, a ball of pus begins to collect between the tonsil and throat wall. Sounds disgusting, right? Imagine, the amount of pain this tiny ball can cause. The problem with this condition is the speedy abscess formation. The infection can spread in the mouth and body, if not treated immediately. The chances of rupture are a lot.

A very painful procedure, involving antibiotics and large needles to drain the pus ball. Mononucleosis results in abscess formation, which causes salivary glands under the tongue to become inflamed. Young adults and teenagers are most likely to be affected.

One Swollen Tonsil Symptoms

Each of the three common causes has an array of similar symptoms to check for. They all target the mouth and throat region after the infection spreads. To list a few obvious factors you might face:

Tonsillitis symptoms

  • Pain
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen neck
  • Red tonsils with pale covering
  • Headache
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • weak voice
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ear pain
  • Painful ulcers
  • Blisters in throat
  • Jaw and neck swelling

Of the many symptoms, every person experiences a different set of them. Also, this can lead to an obstruction of the airway as the tonsils are swollen and inflamed. Their size has visibly increased, causing pain. When tonsillitis occurs in children, they suffer from severe vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Strep Throat symptoms

  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swollen jaw and neck glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High fever
  • White patches in throat
  • Redness in throat
  • Sore throat

The number of symptoms varies greatly on the type and progress of Strep throat, in an individual. These symptoms are caused within a total of 5 days, due to the high bacterial exposure. All these symptoms can be the reason for your one swollen tonsil.

Peritonsillar Abscess

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Difficulty swallowing saliva
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen neck
  • Swollen face
  • Muffled voice
  • Blocked airway
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Ear pain
  • Lung infection
  • Difficulty opening mouth
  • Immense pain on one side of throat
  • Gloomy feeling in general
  • Lymph glands enlarged

In the beginning, it is just a sore throat, but within a period without other symptoms an abscess forms. Within 2 to 5 days the symptoms start showing for Quinsy.

Treatment for one swollen tonsil

Well, we discussed the signs and symptoms to be on the look for in case of infection. But all these require intensive care. Therefore, we need to devise a treatment plan according to the progress of the condition. The main thing to remember is giving a rest to your voice and body during the healing time for tonsillitis, strep throat, and Quinsy. You need to give extra attention to your food, to get all the necessary nourishment from soft, smooth food choices. Keep yourself hydrated.

Tonsillitis treatment

The first step is getting a physical examination from a doctor. The test to check for tonsillitis is a swab test, in which the type of virus or bacteria present is checked. Then, the doctor prescribes a medicine according to the kind of infection. In the case of bacterial infection in one swollen tonsil, an antibiotic will be recommended.

Doctors don’t tend to prescribe any medication for viral infections, as the virus will become resist in the future. They best heal on their own, within a specific time. You can perform some home remedies like cold-mist humidifier or vaporizer, gargling with salt water and maintain a moist throat with cool fluids.

Moreover, try eating soft, mushy foods to prevent further throat pain, such as ice cream, Jell-O, and soup. It will surely be your happy days, eating ice cream anytime! Benzocaine, throat lozenges that helps sooth the sore throat, as you suck on it. Furthermore, no need to panic doctors recommend complete removal of tonsils, if they have enlarged to a questionable size. To help you swallow and reduce breathing problems the procedure is the best option.

Strep throat treatment

On the other hand, strep throat treatment requires a greater amount of care, because it is contagious. To stop spreading the bacterial infection, doctors recommend antibiotics. The antibiotics cause a quick recovery, like amoxicillin and penicillin. Remember, not to leave the prescribed during the recommended period, as you feel better because it causes to develop resistance. Complete the entire course of medicines, so there is no relapse. You can use painkillers, like aspirin and ibuprofen to help with the soreness and pain.

Moreover, home remedies like gargling with saline water helps. Also, keeping yourself hydrated with warm and cold liquids soothes the throat, depending on the severity of a sore throat. An individual suffering from one sided swollen tonsil can use cold mist humidifier. Cold drinks have the ability to numb a sore throat.

Peritonsillar Abscess Treatment

The most painful and difficult one, causing one swollen tonsil. The first step in the check up, doctor check if the abscess has ruptured or not. If it is still present between the throat wall and one swollen tonsil, then they immediately drain the pus out. If the chance of developing Quinsy is high, the doctor recommends a complete removal of tonsils. They also prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.

All the pain causing symptoms, like a sore throat and difficulty swallowing food or saliva are due to tonsils. The symptoms quickly ooze out on the surface due to bacterial infection, infecting one tonsil, if not only one.

The doctors perform painless procedures to drain the pus filled abscess. They are vigilant of you not choking or swallowing pus and blood. The procedures are done under sedation and pain medication IVs insertion in the arm. You have options to choose your treatment from, such as:

  • A direct incision of the abscess and suck the pus out. This process involves a scalpel which makes a small cut, from where the pus is drained.
  • The needle aspiration is a quick process, in which a syringe with a thin needle sucks out all the pus, slowly.
  • Then come acute tonsillectomy, which is done if you have a recurring tonsils problem and can’t undergo drainage procedure. Therefore, a surgeon removes your tonsils.


All these three tonsil issues have a lot of symptoms in common and require medical assistance. The old home remedies are always there to help relieve the pain!

Is inflammation harming your health?

When you suffer from a peritonsillar abscess, the chances of peritonsillar cellulitis increase dramatically. But these can be controlled by taking antibiotics, and monitoring while your stay at a hospital. Moreover, you need to discuss your options with the doctor, before opting for tonsil removal. Remember, to complete your antibiotic course, even f you feel better.

When to visit the doctor for one swollen tonsil

To seek medical assistance note the soreness, tender glands and swollenness persisting for over 48 hours. Also, you can visibly see rashes develop. Moreover, if you can’t feel a difference after taking a course of antibiotics for strep throat, then seek for help. A fever around 101 F lasts for two straight days and dark colored urine, are signs to visit the doctor.