Whenever fever, lymph nodes, tonsil blisters or inflamed tonsils are found, many doctors opt to treat with antibiotics for the most likely reason – strep throat – because the probability is high enough that a test is not needed, more than 97% likely.
Herpes and HIV infections, along with other conditions, can also cause these annoying problems. You should see a dentist or oral surgeon for a definitive diagnosis and treatment.
Each year almost 40,000 tonsillectomies are performed in the United States. Tonsils are composed of tissue that is similar to the lymph nodes or “glands” found in the neck, groin, and other places in the body.
The primary methods that doctors use to evaluate your tonsils are: medical history, physical examination, bacteriological cultures, X-rays, and blood tests.
Seeing blisters and other white stuff on your tonsils is not a reliable sign of strep or any other condition for that matter. Many things, including viruses, mononucleosis, and even trapped food particles can leave white residue on the tonsils.
The cure rate for strep is excellent if you are compliant with your antibiotics.
If you stop taking antibiotics as soon as you feel better, or you share them with other family members, you’ll be more likely to have relapses or treatment failures.
The childhood illness known as hand-foot-mouth disease also causes blister-like bumps in the mouth (on the tongue, cheeks, and near the throat and tonsils). The most common viruses that cause hand-foot-mouth disease include coxsackie virus and other enteroviruses.
Antibiotics are ineffective, since this is a viral infection. Treatment may include increased fuel intake to prevent dehydration, and acetaminophen for any fever.
Another childhood infection, herpangina, also causes tonsil blisters. This illness starts abruptly, usually with a fever. Almost all children with herpangina have a decreased appetite.
Other symptoms might include headache, backache, runny nose, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Children first become ill 4 to 6 days after being exposed.
Like hand-foot-mouth diseases, infected children should get plenty of fluids, and their other symptoms should be treated as necessary.
Here are some home care remedies for tonsil blisters that will make it easier for you to swallow:
- Drink warm liquids
- Gargle several times a day with warm salt water
- Cold liquids or Popsicles help some sore throats
- Increase saliva production by sucking on hard candies and throat lozenges
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to moisten and soothe tonsils
- Acetaminophen and other over-the-counter pain medications may help reduce the burning sensation of the blisters
You may also find it helpful to limit acidic foods, i.e. refined flours and sugars, and switch to toothpaste without sodium laurel sulfate (this ingredient dries out the lining of the mouth).
You should also incorporate fruit, particularly apple, into your diet, as this seems to reduce the occurrence of tonsil blisters.