Swollen, Red Tonsils Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand swollen, red tonsils symptoms, including 3 causes & common questions.

Swollen, Red Tonsils Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen, red tonsils

Contents

  1. 3 Possible Swollen, Red Tonsils Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics
  4. Related Articles

3 Possible Swollen, Red Tonsils Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swollen, red tonsils. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Mononucleosis infection

Infectious mononucleosis, also called "mono" or "kissing disease," can be debilitating for a while but is usually not dangerous in itself.

Several viruses cause mononucleosis. It spreads easily through saliva and other body fluids. Sharing a drinking glass or a spoon, or kissing someone who has the virus – even they show no symptoms – will transmit the disease. It can also be sexually transmitted.

Due to lifestyle, teenagers and young adults seem to be the most susceptible.

Symptoms include tiredness, sore throat, fever, rash, body aches, swelling in the neck and armpits, and sometimes swollen liver and spleen. The symptoms alone are usually enough for the doctor to make a diagnosis.

Because mononucleosis is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help. Treatment consists of bed rest, fluids, and good nutrition. The patient should still be under a doctor's care due to the risk of secondary infections or damage to the heart, liver, and spleen.

Handwashing, cleanliness, not sharing dishes or drinking glasses, and not having unprotected sex are the best ways to prevent mononucleosis.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (stomach ache), cough

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Swollen, Red Tonsils Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen, red tonsils

Strep throat requiring throat swab

Strep throat, or "strep," is a sore throat specifically caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, also called group A streptococcus.

The illness spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and then someone else inhales the airborne bacteria, or touches a surface where it has landed and then touches their own face.

Children are most susceptible but anyone can be infected.

Symptoms include sudden throat pain, fever, headache, rash, body aches, and red, swollen tonsils. These symptoms can be caused by other illnesses, so a sample is taken by gently rubbing a sterile cotton-tipped swab over the back of the throat.

Testing will identify the organism responsible so that treatment with the appropriate antibiotic can begin. Be sure to finish all of the medication as directed, even after feeling better.

Untreated strep throat can lead to ear infections, kidney disease, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever. These are serious illnesses. If strep throat is suspected, the person should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, sore throat, fever, rash

Symptoms that always occur with strep throat requiring throat swab: sore throat

Symptoms that never occur with strep throat requiring throat swab: general weakness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Viral infection of the larynx (voice box)

Laryngitis an inflammation of the larynx, or voice box. This causes the vocal cords to swell and leads to a hoarse, raspy voice.

A viral infection, such as the common cold or influenza, is nearly always the cause of laryngitis. These infections are spread through casual contact, as when someone sneezes and the droplets are inhaled from the air.

Most at risk are people whose immune systems are already weakened by illness, medication, or chemotherapy.

Symptoms include hoarseness; sore, irritated throat; difficulty speaking; coughing; and sometimes fever.

Forcing speech during laryngitis can cause permanent damage to the vocal cords. Hoarseness that never really clears up should be seen by a medical provider, as it can be a symptom of a more serious condition.

Diagnosis is made through throat swab and sometimes blood tests.

Treatment involves rest and drinking plenty of fluids until the virus has run its course, and resting the voice so the swelling can subside on its own. Antibiotics are not effective against a viral illness.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: sore throat, runny nose, fever, dry cough, hoarse voice

Urgency: Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen, Red Tonsils

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you have a sore throat?
  • Do you have a cough?
  • Do you have a rash?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen, red tonsils. These questions are also covered.

Take quiz

Swollen, Red Tonsils Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swollen, red tonsils have also experienced:

  • 13% Sore Throat
  • 4% Neck Bump
  • 4% Cough

People who have experienced swollen, red tonsils were most often matched with:

  • 44% Mononucleosis Infection
  • 44% Strep Throat Requiring Throat Swab
  • 11% Viral Infection Of The Larynx (Voice Box)

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Swollen, Red Tonsils Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen, red tonsils