• You're all caught up!

Swollen Tonsils Caused by Allergies

author image Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
Swollen Tonsils Caused by Allergies
Open your mouth wide and you'll see your tonsils at the back. Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Few allergies trigger swollen tonsils as a sole symptom. However, if you have pollen, fiber, food or other allergies then swollen tonsils might occur alongside other familiar symptoms. In some cases this will subside after a few hours. However, if your allergy triggers a serious reaction, it may swell the tonsils and throat to a point where they restrict breathing.


Your tonsils sit on either side of the entrance to your throat, right at the back of your mouth. Many people mistake the droopy teardrop-shaped piece of flesh at the middle of the throat opening for the tonsils. However, this is the uvula. When the tonsils become red and inflamed they swell, slightly closing up the space at the start of your throat. You'll also feel tender and swollen along the jawline, beneath the cheeks.


Perhaps the most serious cause of allergy-induced swollen tonsils is anaphylaxis, sometimes known as anaphylactic shock. Food, particularly shellfish, certain medications, insect stings and latex are the most common allergic triggers of anaphylaxis, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Along with a swollen throat and tonsils, you may start to feel weak, out of breath, nauseous and panicked. You may even experience sharp cramps. If you suspect an anaphylactic reaction in anyone, get them to an emergency room right away.

Hay Fever

You may notice that your tonsils become swollen and sore in spring each year. If that's the case, then it could be related to a pollen allergy, or hay fever. Hay fever tends to occur when plants and trees deposit their pollen and other material into the air. In some people, this triggers symptoms such as streaming eyes, itching skin, congestion and sneezing. One potential sign is swollen tonsils. Several hay fever remedies are available over-the-counter, or your doctor can prescribe stronger antihistamine medication.

Pollen Food Allergy

Pollen food allergy syndrome is a condition related to hay fever. It can cause symptoms including a swollen throat and tonsils. In extreme cases it causes anaphylaxis, according to MayoClinc.com. The condition occurs when a particular vegetable or fruit contains similar proteins to those found in pollen substances. For example, bananas contain similar proteins to those in ragweed pollen. If you have an allergy to a particular type of pollen, check which fruits and vegetables can trigger the same reactions and steer clear.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media