Most people have likely experienced a sore throat. But white spots on tonsils could indicate a bacterial infection. What are they, what could be causing them, and more importantly, how do you treat them?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the potential causes of these white spots on tonsils, as well as what can be done to treat them.
White Spots on Tonsils: Probable Causes
Seeing white spots on your tonsils may cause some alarm, prompting you to seek instant remedies 0r self-medicate. However, the type of infection will impact the type of treatment that will be used to cure these white spots.
Here are some possible causes so that you can take the necessary actions to eliminate the infection.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is a virus that may cause white spots on the tonsils. It is a member of the herpes virus family and is closely related to the viruses that cause chickenpox and shingles.
EBV is spread through contact with infected saliva or mucus, usually through kissing or sharing utensils or cigarettes. It can also be spread through contact with the blood or organs of an infected person.
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and white spots on the tonsils. Untreated, it could lead to headaches, muscle aches and loss of appetite. These symptoms usually last for a few weeks but can persist for months or even years in some cases.
Make sure to get plenty of rest and stay dehydrated to ease the symptoms. If it persists, then seek medical help immediately.
Strep throat is a throat infection caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. It is a very common illness, especially among children. The symptoms of strep throat can include a sore throat, fever, swollen tonsils, and white patches on the back of the throat.
It is important to see a doctor if you think you might have strep throat so that it can be properly diagnosed and treated.
For diagnosis, your doctor will likely start by doing a physical examination and asking about your symptoms. They may also order a test called a rapid strep test or a throat culture. This involves swabbing the back of your throat and testing it for the presence of Streptococcus bacteria.
If you have strep throat, it is important to finish taking all of the antibiotics that your doctor prescribes, even if you start to feel better. This will help prevent the infection from coming back and reduce your risk of developing more serious health complications.
If left untreated, strep throat can lead to more serious health problems such as rheumatic fever or scarlet fever. Rheumatic fever can cause damage to the heart, joints and nervous system.
Scarlet fever is another bacterial infection that primarily affects children and can cause a characteristic red rash. These complications are rare in developed countries like the United States, but they can still occur.
You can prevent strep throat by having good hand hygiene and by getting vaccinated against streptococcus pneumonia infections, another type of bacteria that can cause serious damage in the throat and lungs.
Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of getting strep throat:
- Good hand hygiene, including washing hands often and properly and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
- Avoiding close contact with people who have strep throat
- Staying up-to-date on your immunizations, especially the pneumococcal vaccine
- Washing fruits and vegetables well before eating them
- Avoiding raw milk and unpasteurized juices
- Cooking meat and poultry thoroughly
It’s also important to boost your immune health so that your body can fight off viruses more effectively. Some ways you can do this include keeping up-to-date with recommended vaccines, taking natural health supplements, getting plenty of rest, and staying active. Remember to always consult with your physician before taking any supplements to ensure that your body is fit enough to take them.
Tonsil stones, also called tonsilloliths, are hard deposits of calcium that form in the crevices of your tonsils. They vary in size and can be white or yellow. While they’re usually harmless, they can cause discomfort and might be a sign of an underlying condition.
These small stones are caused by a buildup of bacteria and debris in the crevices of your tonsils. When this happens, the debris hardens and forms a stone. Anything that causes inflammation or swelling in the tonsils can increase your risk of developing tonsil stones.
The conditions below can increase your risk of getting tonsil stones:
- Chronic tonsillitis
- Recurrent tonsillitis
- Enlarged tonsils
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Tonsil stones are usually small and don’t cause any symptoms. However, if they get large enough, they can cause bad breath, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pains, and coughing fits.
If you have any symptoms of tonsil stones, see your doctor. They can confirm whether you have tonsil stones and help you find relief.
When it comes to treatments, most tonsil stones don’t need treatment and will eventually go away on their own.
However, if they’re causing discomfort or other symptoms, you can get rid of the white stuff on your tonsils by doing the following:
- Gargle with warm saltwater. This can help shrink the stones and make them easier to remove.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently remove the stones. Be careful not to damage your tonsils in the process.
- Irrigate your tonsils with a water pick. You can buy one at most drugstores.
You can find tonsil stone removal tools online so that you can properly and safely remove them yourself. However, refrain from popping hidden tonsil stones as you can damage your tonsils if you do it yourself.
If these methods don’t work or you can’t successfully remove the stones, your doctor might need to remove the stones surgically. This is typically done as an outpatient procedure and doesn’t require a hospital stay.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing tonsil stones:
- Practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily.
- Gargle with warm salt water after meals.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.
- Treat underlying conditions that cause inflammation, such as allergies or GERD.
If you’re prone to tonsil stones, your doctor might recommend having your tonsils removed. This is typically done as a last resort when other treatments haven’t worked. Tonsillectomy is a safe and effective procedure that can help reduce your risk of developing tonsil stones in the future.
Other Probable Causes of White Spots Seen on Tonsils
The three infections mentioned above are some of the most common causes of the white spots seen on tonsils.
Other potential causes of white spots on tonsils include:
- Dry mouth
- Oral thrush (a fungal infection)
If you’re concerned about the white spots on your tonsils, it’s important to see a doctor so they can determine the underlying cause. It might be a food allergy that’s causing them or your body’s reaction to a prolonged bad habit. In some cases, a simple viral or bacterial infection can be treated at home with over-the-counter medication. However, more serious conditions will require further treatment.