Slight Enlarged Tonsils but no pain

This post is a response by a doctor to a question one of our community members asked.

Murali Asks:

I have slight enlarged tonsils but no pain from last two week

I have one enlarged tonsils but no pain…Is this cancer??

Dr Alejandro’s reply:

Hello Murali,

Enlarged tonsils, medically known as tonsil hypertrophy, is a condition very common in young children, although it can also be a problem for adults. Often tonsil hypertrophy does not cause any symptoms, though in certain circumstances this condition can be highly problematic.
Most common causes of unilateral tonsil enlargement are infectious diseases, and include the following: Tonsillitis, which is the swelling and inflammation of the tonsils, as a result of a bacterial or a viral infection; Peritonsillar abscess, also called a quinsy, another common cause of unilateral enlarged tonsil, that can be a complication of tonsillitis as pus from the infection gathers between the tonsil and the wall of the throat, developing into an abscess.
Another common cause of unilateral tonsil hypertrophy, although less common than infection, are allergies, since tonsils are part of the lymphatic tissue (which is involved in allergies), and when repeatedly stimulated by an allergen, a tonsil enlargement can occur. However, this enlargement is generally bilateral.

The most serious cause (while uncommon) of unilateral tonsil enlargement is cancer. When there are clinical features such as a history of chronic tonsillar pain, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), the presence of mucosal abnormality or cervical lymphadenopathy (an enlarged lymph node in the neck), there may be a greater degree of suspicion of a malignancy, and surgical removal of the tonsil (tonsillectomy) for further histological analysis (microscope evaluation) is suggested.

In your case, since you have been experiencing a unilateral tonsil enlargement for a short period of time, and you do not have any other symptoms (such as those described above), I strongly believe it may be caused by an infection, and antibiotic treatment may be needed. If you continue noticing the tonsil enlargement, or start having any of the above symptoms, I would suggest you have a consult with your primary care physician to decide whether or not you need to have a tonsillectomy. However, you should not be worried, this is a very common condition in both children and adults, and the chances of it being due to a tumor are rare.

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