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The tonsils are masses of soft tissue located at the back of the throat, also known as the pharynx. They are a part of the lymphatic system that helps to ward off infections. Each tonsil is covered by a pink mucosa running through which are pits, called crypts. But sometimes these tonsils can get infected due to germ buildup that can disrupt the normal way of living. Tonsils can be further categorized.

Also Read: White Spots on the Throat

Types of Tonsils

Types of tonsils

You might be aware that there are actually three types of tonsils in the throat-

Let’s understand each type in detail.

Pharyngeal tonsils

As the name suggests, this is a type of tonsils that is present near the pharynx. This is a collection of lymphoid cells located at the roof of the nasopharynx (space above the soft palate at the back of the nose that connects the nose to the mouth). When these groups of tissues swell, these are known as adenoids. These are also part of the immune system. Adenoids are present since birth and by the preteen age years, it disappears. Some of the conditions that affect the pharyngeal tonsils are-

    • Adenoiditis- This is the inflammation of the adenoids due to a bacterial or viral infection. 
    • Obstructive sleep apnea- This is the condition in which a person wakes up suddenly in the middle of the night gasping for air. What happens is when the pharyngeal tonsils enlarge, it blocks the airflow through the throat. 
    • Ear infections- The enlarged adenoids can block the drainage of fluid from the ears into the throat, leading to recurrent infections in the ear. 

Doctors recommend treatment options depending on the severity of the enlargement. Generally, the first line of treatment is medications such as nasal steroids that shrink the adenoids. However, if the swelling is causing other health conditions then an adenoidectomy– removal of the adenoids surgically- is recommended. 

Palatine tonsils

What we commonly refer to as ‘the tonsils’ are actually the palatine tonsils. These mass of cells look as if they are coming out from each side of the pharynx that is present at the back of the throat. The main function of this type of tonsils is to produce antibodies that can kill infectious agents thereby, preventing or curbing infections. 

The part of the tonsil that is exposed to the mouth cavity consists of numerous pits. Sometimes, food particles can get stuck in these pits that lead to bacterial buildup giving rise to tonsillitis. Symptoms of tonsillitis that people experience are-

Lingual tonsils 

This type of tonsils is made up of lymphatic tissue situated at the base of the tongue. This is the tonsil responsible for the irregular appearance of the back tongue surface. These tonsils rarely get infected as the pits are regularly drained by the mucous glands present in the tongue.  

Types of Tonsillitis

There are mainly three types of tonsillitis that can occur-

  • Acute tonsillitis- tonsillitis in which the symptoms last for around 10 days or less, is considered as acute. This mainly occurs in children that can be easily treated with holistic remedies or antibiotics. 
  • Chronic tonsillitis- This is the type of tonsillitis that lasts for a very long time and even causes stones. People can experience long-lasting sore throat, bad breath or tender nodes in the neck.
  • Recurrent tonsillitis- As the name suggests, this is the type of tonsillitis that occurs again and again. If you have tonsillitis-

-5 to 7 times in a year

-at least 5 times in the last two years

-at least 3 times in the last three years 


The diagnosis for an issue in any type of tonsils comprises a general examination. The ENT doctor looks for any swelling or white spots in the throat. 

To check, the doctor sometimes uses a swab and takes a part of the infected area to dig out the actual reason- viral or bacterial infection. 

Followed by this, a blood test is also recommended to check the presence of any disease-causing microorganisms. 

 10 Effective Home Remedies of Tonsillitis

Fortunately, there are few home remedies that can help you get relief from the symptoms of tonsillitis. Some of them are discussed below-


    • Drink plenty of warm liquids
    • Eat cold, soft foods such as frozen yogurt or ice cream
    • Avoid hard foods such as chips, crackers, toasts as this irritates the throat
    • Gargle with salt water to flush out the germs or food particles
    • Don’t strain the voice while speaking
    • Take over-the-counter pain relievers 
    • Get plenty of rest 
    • Take lozenges or use throat sprays or gargles 

The above tips should be enough to provide relief from the symptoms. However, if a peritonsillar abscess has formed, then get yourself checked by an ENT doctor. The doctor might recommend a tonsillectomy. Want to know more about tonsillectomy? Click here:

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