Health & Fitness

White Spots On Tonsils: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Options And Prevention Tips!

Tonsils are an important part of the body and they can prevent germs from entering the body through the mouth or nose. Tonsils are located ...

by Kendra Reed

White Spots On Tonsils: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment Options And Prevention Tips!

Tonsils are an important part of the body and they can prevent germs from entering the body through the mouth or nose. Tonsils are located at the throat and palate, which is why they act as the first line of defense. They are rich in white blood cells, which help kill germs. They play a major role in our immune system as they defend the body from inhaled or ingested pathogens. Its main function is fighting infection as it filters the bacteria and viruses from the air. Sometimes, the tonsils can become enlarged due to bacterial or viral infections. It may result in breathing difficulties, snoring, and frequent colds. 

Tonsil infections are mainly of three types: acute, recurrent, and chronic tonsilitis. In acute tonsillitis, the symptoms usually last up to 3 to 4 days and can last up to 2 weeks. You get tonsillitis several times a year in case of recurrent tonsillitis, and chronic tonsillitis is where you experience long-term tonsillitis infection. White spots on the tonsils are also a sign of infection. The causes of white spots on tonsils can vary but seek medical help if you experience pain or fever along with it. Often, white spots on the tonsils do not need treatment and only require managing symptoms. Whereas, other conditions might need medical conditions and in severe cases, surgery. 

What Are White Spots On Tonsils?

White spots on the tonsils are often a sign of an infection like tonsillitis or strep throat. White spots, blotches, or streaks on tonsils can be a result of an underlying condition. Its treatment depends on its cause, and if the condition is severe, you may even need surgery. If you experience fever or pain along with these white spots, seek medical help immediately.

There are plenty of home remedies for white spots on tonsils, such as saltwater gargles, throat lozenges, and OTC pain relievers. These may help ease pain and swelling quickly. Doctors prescribe antibiotics in the case of bacterial infections. 

White Spots On The Tonsils

White spots on the tonsils may be concerning, but it is not often serious. It can be caused by various reasons, such as infections, oral thrush, herpes, tonsil stones, or mononucleosis. Its symptoms include experiencing fever, nasal congestion, sore throat, and pain or difficulty when swallowing. The most common misconception regarding white spots on tonsils is that they are a very serious condition. However, the truth is symptoms of white spots on the tonsils can be even treated at home, and in the case of infections, antibiotics help. Only in severe cases, surgery is required. 

Top Causes Of White Spots On Tonsils

Some of the top causes of white spots on the tonsils include;

  • Tonsillitis

Since tonsils are located in the back of the throat, they are vulnerable to bacterial and viral infection. Tonsillitis is the inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infections. It can cause symptoms like sore throat, pain while swallowing, swollen tonsils, and more. 

  • Strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that develops within one to three days of exposure to the bacteria. Strep throat is often caused by having direct contact when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. It can also be transmitted by touching contaminated droplets. 

  • Infectious mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis is commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It can cause symptoms like fever, inflammation, and fatigue. This virus can spread through saliva, and most adults recover within two to four weeks. 

  • Tonsil stones

Tonsil stones are small, pebble-like substances or lumps that form on the tonsils. They are hard and are made up of hard minerals, germs, and food debris. Tonsil stones are usually harmless but can cause bad breath, sore throat, feeling of a lump, or coughing. 

  • Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of a group of yeats called Candida. It causes a whitish plaque in the mouth and back of the throat. This can be caused by having a dry mouth, heavy smoking, taking immunosuppressant drugs, certain antibiotics, or wearing dentures. 

Other less common causes are;

  • Having dry mouth
  • Heavy smoking
  • Taking broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Weaning dentures
  • Taking immunosuppressant drugs

Symptoms Associated With White Spots On Tonsils

White spots on the tonsils can cause various symptoms like;

  • Fever
  • Pain when swallowing 
  • Sore throat 
  • Scratchy throat
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste
  • Bad breath
  • Coughing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Feeling a lump in the throat
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Body aches 

Are There Any Diagnosis Methods?

The treatment of white spots on the tonsils depends on their cause, and to identify its cause, the doctor reviews the symptoms. It may need throat examinations, taking a swab of the tonsils, or performing blood tests. Usually, the doctors look at the tonsils to see if there is swelling or pus in them.

The health provider also checks for fever and looks into the ears and nose for signs of infection, swelling, and pain. You will be asked to state all the symptoms you have examined so far to understand the cause. 

Treatment For White Spots On Tonsils

Since white spots on the tonsils are often not serious, they go away on their own in a week. It is necessary to drink a lot of fluids and take rest to treat it quickly. There are various treatments such as;

Treatment For White Spots On Tonsils

➡️Antibiotics

If the cause behind white tonsils is bacterial infection, then the doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat it. If the patient is experiencing strep throat, antibiotics are prescribed. 

➡️Antifungal medications 

Antifungal medications are prescribed for treating oral thrush. 

➡️Home remedies

There are plenty of home remedies or natural ways to treat white spots on tonsils. They include gargling with salt water, drinking warm fluids without caffeine, such as hot herbal tea with honey or chicken broth, quitting smoking, using a humidifier to relieve dry throat, avoiding straining the voice, resting properly, and avoiding hard foods. 

➡️Surgical options

The surgical removal of tonsils is called tonsillectomy. Surgical treatments are recommended when the tonsils are inflamed to the point where they cause difficulty in breathing. Also, the doctors recommend surgery when a person has recurring episodes of tonsilitis. 

How To Prevent White Spots On Tonsils?

See a healthcare provider immediately if you notice the following symptoms;

  • Severe sore throat
  • Swelling in the mouth and throat
  • High fever
  • Severe headache or neck pain
  • Draining fatigue
  • Difficulty in swallowing, breathing, or speaking
  • Persistent bad breath even after maintaining proper oral hygiene 

If you notice that the symptoms are getting worse or persistent, seek medical help to prevent further complications. There are other methods one can follow to prevent white spots on tonsils. They include;

  • Limiting contact with those who have an infection.
  • Covering the mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing to avoid passing the infection to others.
  • Washing the hands often to reduce the risk of getting infections.
  • Following a healthy diet to improve the immune system.
  • Practicing good oral hygiene.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Using a spacer when handling an inhaler to avoid thrush.

Summing Up

Regarding white spots on tonsils, it can be concluded that they are often not a severe condition, and are caused by bacterial or viral infections. The most common causes of white spots on tonsils include tonsillitis, strep throat, infectious mononucleosis, tonsil stones, oral thrust, and more. Some white spots go away on their own, while others might need medical attention.

Doctors prescribe antibiotics if the white spots on the tonsils are caused by bacterial infection, and antifungal medications are prescribed to treat oral thrust. Only in rare and severe cases, surgeries are recommended. There are plenty of home remedies to treat and prevent white spots on tonsils, such as gargling with warm salt water, quitting smoking, reducing hard food intake, resting properly, avoiding straining the voice, and consuming herbal honey tea. 

Seek medical help if the symptoms are severe or last for a longer time. The symptoms may include experiencing pain while swallowing, fever, sore throat, inflammation or swelling, fatigue, feeling a lump in the throat, and more. If you end up having white spots on your tonsils or tonsillitis more frequently, consult the doctor and surgery might be needed to treat it. Also, take measures to prevent tonsilitis and such conditions by practicing proper oral hygiene and following a healthy diet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do white spots on tonsils mean?

White spots on the tonsils mean infection. White spots are signs of bacterial or viral infections like tonsilitis or strep throat. 

2. Do I need antibiotics for white spots on my tonsils?

The doctors recommend antibiotics depending on the exact cause. Often, antibiotics are prescribed if white spots are caused by bacterial infection. 

3. Will tonsillitis go away on its own?

Tonsilitis go away on its own after a few days. It can also last up to a week or more. To ease the symptoms of tonsilitis, it is recommended to take plenty of rest. 

4. What are the four symptoms of strep throat?

The symptoms of strep throat include a sore throat, red and swollen tonsils, white spots, and pain while swallowing. 

5. Should I go to urgent care for white spots on my tonsils?

Seek medical help if the symptoms of white spots on tonsils get severe or persistent. If you have a fever along with white spots, severe pain, and swelling, seek medical help immediately. 

Author

  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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