Tonsils are a component of the immune system which is basically clumps composed of soft tissues. There are two tonsils present in the mouth that are of varying sizes. The primary task performed by the tonsils is to stop the viruses and bacteria from entering through the mouth.  Tonsils help in countering lung and throat infections by producing antibodies known as proteins which kill all the germs. Tonsils appear as two masses which can be seen in the back of your mouth by seeing your reflection in the mirror.

What Are the Causes of Enlarged Tonsils in Children?

The tonsils of some children are larger in size than other children by birth for no apparent reason and it is nothing to get worried about either. However, tonsils can swell up because of being affected by viruses, germs, bacteria, irritants, allergies and even gastro-esophageal reflux as well.

Enlarged tonsils can cause problems in breathing and swallowing. In most cases, the swelling does not last long and goes away as soon as the infection is cured. However, the tonsils might remain swollen in children who keep having these infections on a frequent basis. Cancer is also sometimes a reason for enlarged tonsils but it happens on rare occasions only.

What Are the Symptoms & Complications of Enlarged Tonsils in Children?

Enlargement of tonsils usually accompanies swelling of adenoids. The adenoids are a patch of tissue that sit in the back of the nasal cavity. Enlargement of adenoids can make it difficult for your child to breathe properly through his nose while swelling up of both adenoids and tonsils is likely to make it hard for him to breath while sleeping. The following are some of the other symptoms associated with swelling of tonsils and adenoids.

  • Giving preference to mouth breathing instead of breathing through the nose.
  • Blockage of the sounds produced by the nose during speaking.
  • Incessant problem of runny nose.
  • Sound made during breathing.
  • Ear infections that keep on happening again and again.
  • Sound produced when sleeping.
  • Having difficulty in sleeping and constant breaks in breathing at night which might be a sign of sleep apnea.


Swelling of tonsils or adenoids usually is not a matter of concern however it does become a problem if it starts causing bigger issues.

  • Ear Infections and loss of hearing. Enlarged adenoids and tonsils can result in chronic ear infections by blocking the Eustachian tubes and can even cause complete loss of hearing.
  • Sinus infection. Swelling of tonsils can result in sinus infection that keeps on happening again and again.
  • Inability to gain weight. Children having enlarged tonsils are unable to eat properly and thus have difficulty in gaining weight.
  • Sleep apnea. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids cause snoring which can restrict breathing in children for a few seconds at night. This momentary stoppage in breathing is called sleep apnea and can result in a decrease in the levels of oxygen in the blood.

When to See a Doctor

Consulting a doctor becomes necessary if you suspect that your child has tonsillitis.

Contact your physician immediately if your child starts experiencing:

  • Sore in his throat which lasts for more than a day
  • Pain in swallowing food
  • Weariness, lethargy and restlessness

Take your child to a hospital immediately if he starts experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Inability to breathe
  • Inability to swallow anything
  • Salivating

What Are the Treatments for Enlarged Tonsils in Children?

If your child is suffering from enlarged tonsils, then it is best to take care of him at home, as home treatments can help him in remaining comfortable and recovering quickly.

Home Remedies

  • Rest as much as possible

Ask the child to take as much as rest as possible and forbid him to talk too much as it is going to irritate his inflamed tonsils even more.

  • Keep hydrated

Keep on giving your child plenty of water and fluids so that he does not get dehydrated. The fluids are going to keep his throat moist and suppress the pain he is having.

  • Take food and beverage at suitable temperature

Make sure that the food and drinks you are giving to your child can soothe your child’s throat. For instance, giving him warm water and tea or an ice pop can help in relieving the throat pain experienced in tonsillitis.

  • Gargle with salt water

Ask your child to gargle with salt water every few hours if he is capable of doing it. It would soothe his throat and help him in recovering quickly.

  • Use air humidifier

Make use of an air humidifier to keep the dry air out of your home which is responsible for causing irritation in throat.

  • Avoid irritants

Do not smoke in front of your child and avoid the use of any cleaning products that might have ingredients which can cause irritation in your child’s throat.

  • Use OTC drugs

Make use of over the counter medications for treating the many accompanying symptoms of tonsillitis but only after consulting with your doctor. You can give your child ibuprofen and acetaminophens to control his throat pain.


For enlarged tonsils in children caused by allergies, the doctors usually prescribe antihistamines that are given orally or a corticosteroid spray that is given nasally. However, if the cause of tonsillitis is found to be bacterial then the medication given are usually antibiotics. Usually these drugs can relieve the symptoms in a day or two but if they fail to provide any relief and the swelling persists even after the use of these medication then the doctor might suggest adenoidectomy (surgical removal of adenoids) and tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils).


Tonsillectomy becomes inevitable if the swelling of the tonsils becomes a recurring problem or it does not respond to treatment with antibiotics. It is a simple surgical procedure that does not take more than a day. It takes almost a week or two for a person to recover from a tonsillectomy.

Watch the video to know how the surgery is done: