Functioning of Tonsils
Tonsils are glands that are present at the back of the throat. These glands secrete lymphocytes, cells that are important to fight off and prevent inflammations and infections.
Glands prevent infections in another way. They trap bacteria and viruses that enter the throat through the mouth. This doesn’t allow the microorganisms to reach other body parts.
Are Holes in Tonsils Normal?
Anatomy of the Tonsils
What we see as holes in the tonsils are actually pockets or folds. These pockets or folds that occur in the tonsils form where two edges of folds meet. These holes or pockets are known as tonsillar crypts.
These are a natural part of the anatomy that plays an important role in fighting off infections. The holes, present at the back of the throat, trap bacteria that can cause serious infections.
The main function of these holes is to inform the immune system about what you are ingesting through the mouth.
But these tonsils are at a very high risk of developing infections. Sometimes, debris such as food particles or scar tissue can block the holes which can lead to infections.
Conditions that can occur in the Holes in Tonsils
This is a very common condition in school-age children in which the tonsils swell. You are more likely to get tonsillitis if you are already suffering from a viral or bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis are –
- Tonsils that swell and turn red
- Yellow or White patches on the tonsils
- Soreness in the throat (Also Read: Causes for Sore Throat)
- Pain when you try to swallow
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes
- Breath that stinks (Also Read: Home Remedies for Tonsil Stones and Bad Breath)
- Pain in the head or stomach
This is a type of tonsillitis. This develops due to group A bacteria Streptococcus. This is a communicable disease which means the germs can transmit through coughs and sneezes. Apart from this, it can also develop when you come in contact with the open sores of an infected person’s skin. Symptoms of strep throat are-
- Pain and itchiness inside the throat
- Difficulty while swallowing
- Tonsils that are swollen and red with pus (Also Read: Peritonsillar abscess)
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck
- Red spots inside the mouth
- Pain in the stomach and head
Mononucleosis or ‘Mono’ develops due to the transmission of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) from one person to another. Also known as the kissing disease, this is another reason the tonsil holes can become blocked. This is very common amongst the young population, especially college students. Symptoms of mononucleosis-
- Soreness in throat
- Swelling of the tonsils with pus
- Body ache
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or both
- In rare cases, swelling of liver or spleen
Poor oral hygiene
If you don’t maintain healthy oral hygiene, bacteria can buildup on the tonsil holes which can lead to infections. Symptoms to look out for are-
- Bad breath
- Cavities occur regularly
- Plaque on teeth
- Coating over the tongue
Commonly known as tonsil stones, these develop when food particles, dead cells, or bacteria get trapped in the tonsil holes and get calcified. People who develop recurrent tonsillitis are prone to developing tonsilloliths. These stones can grow which makes the holes larger and worsening the infection. Symptoms of tonsil stones are-
- Soreness in throat
- Bad breath
- White particles near the tonsils
- Difficulty in swallowing
- A persistent cough (Also Read: Food to Eat and Avoid in case of Cough)
When you smoke, the immune system takes a backseat. This leads to inflammation which makes you susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Due to smoking, the tonsil holes can become large which can cause various complications.
Oral and tonsil cancer
Oral cancer and tonsil cancer- both these types of cancer can spread which makes the back of the mouth that doesn’t heal. Symptoms of oral and tonsil cancers are-
- Enlargement of one tonsil than the other
- Blood in the saliva
- Persistent soreness in the throat
- Pain inside the mouth
- Severe earache
- Lump inside the neck
- Pain while swallowing
- Bad breath
Treatment for Holes in the Tonsils
The infection of holes in the tonsils is easily preventable. Below mentioned are a few tips that can be done-
- Gargle with salt water to ease out the inflammation and reduce the discomfort.
- Maintain good oral hygiene to prevent infection and additional holes from forming.
- Quit smoking or taking any tobacco products as soon as possible.
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash to reduce any infections
Treatment Depending on the cause of holes in the tonsils-
Even after taking enough home remedies, if the problems in the tonsil holes persist then the person should visit the doctor. The doctor can also test for a strep infection and accordingly prescribe medicines.
If the holes in the tonsils are getting affected due to strep throat, visit a doctor. They would recommend antibiotics to fight off the infection. This also ensures that the disease doesn’t spread to others.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the person’s organs can inflame and cause other symptoms. Here are some tips to curb mononucleosis symptoms-
- Drink lots of water and other clear fluids
- Rest as much as possible
- Take OTC medicines
If your tonsil holes are infected regularly or tonsil stones get formed more often, it is better to remove the tonsils surgically. This is a day-care procedure of tonsillectomy in which the doctors take out the tonsils. There won’t be any chances of infection neither in the glands nor the holes if these are completely taken out.
Holes in the tonsils are a part of the anatomy of the tonsils. To avoid the risk of infection, follow simple tips such as maintaining good oral hygiene, stop smoking, and wash hands to avoid viruses and bacteria from going inside the system.
It is time to visit the E.N.T doctor as soon as you notice any blisters, pus, or white spots on the tonsils. Still, have some queries? Drop your question in the comment section below!