Swollen Tonsils – What Exactly Caused My Swollen Tonsils?

It's not always easy to diagnose swollen tonsils. In most cases, the swelling is entirely attributable to some viral or bacterial infection; however, it is not always clear what type of viral or bacterial infection is present. For instance, the swelling could be caused by the common cold, the flu, or even chronic tonsillitis. In other cases, it can be caused by Strep or Staph infections. And in other cases, the swelling is not caused by an infection at all. Rather, it is caused by the presence of tonsil stones or some other irritant.

Viral and Bacterial Infections

If you have swollen tonsils as the result of a viral or bacterial infection, then you will have certain symptoms that you would not accompany tonsil stones. For instance, you might have a mild fever, or swollen lymph glands.

On the other hand, you will have certain symptoms that overlap with what might be caused by tonsil stones. For instance, you might have bad breath, difficulty swallowing, or a white film on the surface of your tongue. Since these symptoms overlap, you can not use them to determine what condition is present.

In any case, if you determine your swelling to be the result of something viral or bacterial, it is best to see a doctor.

Tonsil Stones

If you have swollen tonsils as the result of a condition called "tonsil stones," then you will have the aforementioned overlapping symptoms. Additionally, if you open your mouth wide and look in the mirror, you will probably also notice that you have hard, white masses on your tonsils. These are the so-called "tonsil stones."

If this is the case for you, then you should start by trying to get rid of the stones on your own. You can do this by using oxygenating toothpaste, gargling saline solutions, and brushing your tonsils lightly with a moistened q-tip. All of these methods will help to dislodge and prevent the emergence of stones. If none of this works, you should consult a doctor.


If you're experiencing tonsil swelling, there are several possible causes. It could be viral, bacterial, or related to some chronic or temporary condition. Consider the aforementioned methods to distinguish between the possible categories when determining why you have swollen tonsils.