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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Swollen right tonsil and gland on right side

06/12/2007

Question:

For approx. 6 months now i have had a swollen right tonsil. This is accompanied by a swollen gland on the right side of my neck (near throat and just under the jaw line). Smoking seems to irritate it as well as caffeine and carbonated drinks. The swelling is almost nil when I wake up in the morning but throughout the day it can and does get worse (swelling is more pronounced). Any idea as to what this may be?

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Dental and Oral Health (Adults):

It is unusual to have an asymmetric swelling of one tonsil (although this can happen during an acute infection, which is not something you would have for 6 months).  This along with a swollen gland and the fact that apparently you do smoke, raises a suspicion that this might be more than just inflammation.  Cancer can develop in the tonsil and spread to nearby glands in the neck.  Therefore, it would be prudent for you to be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat physician.

It is also possible that you simply have deep crypts or pits in the tonsil that keep getting inflamed.  However, a more thorough evaluation is indicated.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati