Swollen Tonsil on One Side

The tonsils are small lymph nodes situated right at the back of the throat. You can usually see them when you open your mouth wide and if they are inflamed, you will most definitely spot them, usually two swollen mounds at either side of the throat.

Occasionally, you might find that you only have swelling on one side of the throat – a swollen tonsil on one side only. Although this could be a sign of tonsillitis (which normally affects both sides rather than just one side), it could also be a sign of a couple of other conditions which will normally require some form of medical attention in order to treat them.

 swollen tonsil on one side

What Can Cause a Swollen Tonsil on One Side? 

Swollen Tonsil on One SideWe’ve already mentioned tonsillitis – one of the most common conditions which would cause swollen tonsils. When they become infected, they become very swollen and inflamed and this is when tonsillitis occurs, a condition that is very common in young children between the ages of 2 and 15 years of age.

Usually caused by a virus, or a bacteria called Streptococcus (or strep), it is often accompanied with a number of other symptoms including a very sore and red throat, bad react (halitosis), swelling of the neck, a weak voice, trouble breathing and swallowing, aches and pains, a fever and a decreased appetite.

The Streptococcus bacteria can also cause ‘strep-throat’, which carries the same symptoms as tonsillitis but can be passed on through coughing and sneezing.

If you think you have tonsillitis, a throat swab will confirm the diagnosis and then the condition can be treated with antibiotics. If the problem persists (especially in young children), the doctor may refer you for a tonsillectomy at which point the tonsils are removed and the problem should go away. In some rare cases, not all the tonsils are removed and they can grow back.

With both strep-throat and tonsillitis, the bacteria and viruses are spread through human-to-human contact so things like coughing, sneezing, touching, etc. The bacteria that causes tonsillitis can be active for a couple of weeks, and a viral infection is likely to be contagious for a slightly reduced length of time – seven to ten days.

Quinsy’ or Peritonsillar abscess as it is more formally known, is another reason why you might have a swollen tonsil on one side. This is a complication of tonsillitis and is a ball of pus collecting between the tonsil and the throat wall. An abscess forms, normally quite quickly, and it can spread the infection around the mouth and also around the body, especially if it ruptures or is not treated.

Treatment of quinsy normally involves a rather unpleasant combination of a very large needle and antibiotics. A doctor will drain the ball of pus in an attempt to get it all out but it can come back. With recurrent cases, a tonsillectomy is advised.

Quinsy will have very much the same kind of symptoms as strep throat and tonsillitis – a fever, aches and pains, headaches, sore throat, loss of appetite, etc. but can also come with a few more serious ones including difficult in breathing, a very high temperature, great difficulty and pain when trying to breathe or swallow, and a generally rather unwell feeling.

swollen tonsil on one side

What Can Be Used to Treat a Swollen Tonsil on One Side? 

The treatment of your swollen tonsil or tonsils will very much depend on the condition. In some cases, it’s as simple as antibiotics but in others, the treatment could go as far as surgery.

There are some at-home remedies you can try if you have a sore throat, swollen tonsils, or any of the other associated symptoms. Throat lozenges can be sucked which provide relief and there are some types which offer anesthetic properties to alleviate the pain even further. You can also buy throat-sprays which help to soothe the pain and treat the bacteria or virus too.

To give your voice a break for a while, you should try to avoid too much talking and definitely no shouting and if you can, try to rest as much as you can and reduce your stress levels. Smooth foods are easier to swallow and it is important to try and eat and drink as best you can. Your immune system won’t work effectively at fighting off the bugs if it isn’t in tip-top condition itself and to achieve that, you need to make sure you have nourished it.

When to Seek Medical Advice 

Although common, a swollen tonsil on one side is something you will want to get checked out by a doctor. This is even more so the case if you have accompanying symptoms such as a high temperature, a rash over the body, no improvement after a couple of days of treatment, very dark-colored urine, difficult breathing or swollen and painful joints.

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71 COMMENTS

  1. I had a upper endoscopy done yesterday. When i got the pictures back my GI said that my right palatine tonsil is swollen. Well it has felt like i have had something in there for awhile. But today it felt like it popped. I made an appointment with the ent but today is thursday and the only day they had available was next Wednesday. What should i do. Should i go to the er or wait until next Wednesday for my ent.

    • You may be benefited by speaking with an emergency medical professional. There may be nothing wrong, but it is possible that there is something to be cared for. Have a great day, Barbara!

  2. My right tonsil is swollen from last couple of weeks. My throat swab was negative. I did completed antibiotics course but still not much improvement. I don’t any other symptoms except coughing. Can you please suggest what could be reason of right side swollen tonsil.

    • Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. Do not attempt to self diagnose yourself. Speak with a medical professional at this time. If you want to speak with another medical professional, then do so. Have a great day, Kammy!

  3. I’ve had a sore throat for over two weeks now. One morning I just woke up with it, but thought it would go away. I’ve had tonsillitis many times before, but this time it feels slightly different and I don’t have laryngitis (odd for me). The side of my neck, my jaw, and throat are very painful and sore. I also have a splitting headache and ear aches. Yesterday (the two week mark), one side started to hurt much worse than the other. It’s to the point where I can’t sleep, it feels like someone is taking a knife to that tonsil, and makes the other side not feel nearly as painful (even though it is pretty painful). About a week ago I noticed a yellow tint on the roof of my mouth (new to me). Can’t decide if it’s strep this time or my usual tonsillitis. Should I ride it out or go to the doctor? I am trying to avoid the doctor since my new insurance doesn’t kick in for another two weeks (new job), and my old one ended three weeks ago.

    • Continue to monitor your experiences at this time. It would be best for you to visit a medical professional at this time. However, you may choose to wait for your insurance. Take this time to determine if your health or your money is more important to you. Have a great day, Elle!

  4. Hi I have been having swollen tonsil at side but it’s not that big sometimes you don’t even know the inflamed on it.. but my soft palate looks red with some dark veins at one side, and what confused me more is all that area around the soft palate looks light yellow, I have been to the doctor and emergency more than four times in 3months but they keep giving me medicine for acid reflux, because sometimes I do feel like salt is in my throats and most of the time in my fluid, so am really worried about this yellow color development around it.. but I don’t feel pain on the tonsil sometimes I feel pain on the around that side.. I don’t know if am the one who is over worried or what because sometimes I do feel like around my neck hurts but if I put my hand to feel the pain, I don’t feel anything.. am really scared an panic.. the hospital put me on a waiting list for general check so I can’t even wait for that am even planning to go back to the emergency again just because of worried.. I don’t sleep at night.. just keep thinking what could this be.. I did strep throat test nothing urine sample nothing.. but something more strange is sometime I could feel pain on my tight.. I really don’t understand and they not taken me really seriously as I wish.. pls help me with any advice necessary.. thank u

    • Continue to monitor your experiences. You may want to speak with a natural medical professional, if medical doctors do not help you, then continue to reach out. You may want to make dietary changes. Maintain a plant based diet and abstain from processed foods and added sugars. If you notice that your symptoms increase, then visit another medical professional. Best of luck, Pa!

  5. My tonsils have become swollen seven times in under a year.they have been swollen from the size of a ping pong ball to the size of a baseball. They have cut off my breathing three times. I’ve tried cough drops, gargling with warm salt water, and throat sprays. But none of them work. They just irritate my throat more. It hurts to breathe and swallow. I can’t even swallow water without wincing from the pain. I’ve been coughing also. What should I do? I’ve tried antibiotics five times. But it doesn’t work for me. I’m worried. Any advice on what I should do?

    • You should visit an emergency medical professional at this time. They may be able to diagnose and treat you. If you do not visit an emergency room, then you should make an appointment with a medical professional at this time. If you do not find relief with a medical doctor, then know that some people find benefit in speaking with natural doctors. Best of luck, Harley!

  6. My tonsils have become swollen seven times in under a year. They swell from the size of a ping pong ball to the size of a baseball. This is on both sides. It has cut off my breathing three times. I have difficulty breathing at night, and I have trouble swallowing. I can’t even swallow water without wincing from the pain. I’ve tried cough drops, gargling with warm salt water, throat sprays, everything. But none of it works. It just irritates my throat more. Is this normal? What should I do? They are swollen right now. Just breathing hurts and burns my throat. Any help on what I should do?

    • You should visit an emergency medical professional at this time. They may be able to diagnose and treat you. If you do not visit an emergency room, then you should make an appointment with a medical professional at this time. If you do not find relief with a medical doctor, then know that some people find benefit in speaking with natural doctors. Best of luck, Harley!

  7. My right tonsil has been infected only that one was swollen. Its been about a week i was told at a clinic that i didnt need antibiotics. Today i just realized that there is only one whit spot left but there’s bleeding from the tonsil now. What should i do

    • If you are bleeding, then speak with a medical professional at this time. Continue to monitor your symptoms at this time. This will help you better address any questions that your medical professional may have. It would be beneficial for you to make an appointment at this time. Drink plenty of water. Best of luck, Albert!

  8. I am 48. I have had a sore throat from my tonsil to my ear and chronic cough for 7 years. I have developed dysphagia and sleep apnea. I also have severe reflux. I finally after years found a great ENT and he and surgeon suggest tonsil come out. I go next week. I have no problems at all with my right side. I dont want to have both out because recovery will be easier. I figure if it was cancer I would be dead after 7 years so probably not that. Would you think having only one out should be okay? How come only one side of my throat/ear is affected? I go next week. I have read a lot of stories and not looking forward to this. But the pain I have endured for 7 years cant be too far off from tonsillectomy.

    • If your medical professional has advised you to get a tonsillectomy and you feel comfortable doing so, then it would be wise for you to get one. If you feel as though you do not need to do so, then do not go in for surgery. It is likely that it would be beneficial for you to get surgery. Speak with your doctor an additional time to determine if this is the correct choice. Best of luck, Kim!

  9. My tonsil swell on the left side but only sightly about 6 days now but I don’t feel any pain do you know the cause of this.

    • It is possible that this is the furthest that your tonsil will swell. It is possible that this is an early symptom of something that you may want to speak with a medical professional about. Continue to monitor your experiences for additional symptoms. This will help you address any questions that your doctor may have. Best of luck, Dan!

  10. My tonsil swell on the left side but only sightly about 6 days now but I don’t feel any pain do you know the cause of this

    • It is possible that this is the furthest that your tonsil will swell. It is possible that this is an early symptom of something that you may want to speak with a medical professional about. Continue to monitor your experiences for additional symptoms. This will help you address any questions that your doctor may have. Best of luck, Dan!

  11. Gud evening sir/madam

    My name is joy
    My left sidE tonsil Is swollen from 1 week with Out pain is This symptom of cancer? Plzz reply me sir/madam

    • This is not likely a symptom of cancer. It is possible that you have an infection. It would be beneficial for you to make an appointment with a medical professional at this time. It may be safer if you visit an emergency medical professional. They will be able to diagnose and treat your condition. Best of luck, Joy!

      • Still my tonsil swelling on left side but i feel better then bfore ! I am sea men so i show to my ship doctor he told me its a infection but still i am worried
        Plzz help me wht should i do

        • It is beneficial that you have already spoken to the doctor. If it is an infection, then your doctor should be able to treat you in some manner. Reduce your consumption of unhealthy food at this time. Drink extra water, as this will help to keep you healthier. Best of luck, Joy!

  12. I have a swollen tonsil only on one side since last week .It always recurs only on left side ,each time i take antibiotics and it gets cured but very slowly ,it takes as long as 3 weeks for me to recover .Because of this i usually have mouth ulcers and terrible pain in my left ear .I am 29 years old and i have this problem since a long time .It happens around 5times in a year .Please advise .

    • If you have not yet spoken with a medical professional, then do so. It is possible that this is caused by lifestyle influences. If you find that your tonsils seem to swell a certain time of year, after a particular food, or after you visited an unhygienic area, then that may be the cause. It will benefit you to make a journal of potential influences for your tonsils. Best of luck, Saba!

  13. Hi I am totally freaking out! My daughter was sick about 2 years ago and both of her tonsils became very swollen. Since that time she has had other colds and many ear infections. During this time her left tonsil went back to almost normal size while the left has remained a lot larger. Every time she goes to the doctor I ask about it and I am told that it is normal for one to stay enlarged in some kids as long as she has no other health issues or concerns. Her dentist hasn’t seemed concerned either. Bring me to last night, the doctor was checking my daughter because she had a small stye on her eye and checked everything else too (ears, nose mouth). This time the NP seemed a little concerned and said I should mention it my daughters physical tomorrow. She kept asking me not to google anything ans freak out because it is probably nothing but could be something. I decided to google and have read nothing but horror stories!! I am so freaked out and an emotional wreck over the thought that my little girl might have cancer!! Have you heard of kids having enlarged tonsils when sick and only one remaining enlarged with no symptoms for close to 2 years later? I am so worried that I listened to all these doctors and now it might be cancer that has been there for 2 years with no treatment! Help please!!

    • Neither the doctor or dentist are worried. You should not be concerned about anything that you find online. You should not be worried unless your doctor’s say that there is a problem. Reduce stress in your life at this time. Continue to monitor the symptoms that she is having. If there are any serious changes, then inform your medical professional. Have a great day, Jenn!

  14. I have had one swollen tonsil for 2 weeks now, been to the doctors 3 times and they prescribed me antibiotics. Done the course but still swollen and have slight ear pain every now and then, sometimes in my left, sometimes in my right.

    • Since you have completed the course and you still have symptoms, you should make another appointment with a medical professional. Continue to monitor your symptoms. Make an appointment, and if an appointment is more than a week out, then speak with a emergency medical professional. Best of luck, Gina!

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