An individual may occasionally notice what looks like a small white lesion or spot on a tonsil. This is typically known as a tonsil cyst or tonsillar cyst. A tonsil cyst is a pouch-like vesicle filled with fluid or pus typically protruding from a tonsil. Most frequently, these tonsil cysts are benign, although in some cases, cancer may be present. A benign tonsil cyst can become infected if not treated in a timely manner.
There are danger signs and warnings to look out for with cysts that have formed on the tonsils. Difficulty in swallowing or anything that prevents the patient from eating normally should be brought to a doctor's attention. General bleeding from the area is not typical with tonsil cysts, although some cases may differ.
Tonsil cysts differ from tonsil stones, which are known as tonsilloliths. A tonsil cyst is generally softer and not solid as a stone would be. Cysts seem more like bumps in appearance. With the presence of cysts located on the tonsils, the typical procedure involves a physician performing a biopsy of the tissue. This is done to examine the cells and ensure there are no signs of cancerous tissue present. A doctor can generally tell if the cyst is infected by the fluid matter that drains from it.
In some patients who suffer from frequent sinus infections or inflamed tonsils, fluid can become trapped and form into a 'pocket.' This sac then becomes a tonsil cyst. Under most circumstances, the doctor might decide to remove the cyst, unless it shows signs of draining on its own. Typically, the doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat the infection or prevent one from developing. If the tonsils are inflamed and infected, the physician may consider removing them through a surgical procedure known as a tonsillectomy.
In many cases, a general practitioner may refer the patient to a specialist who treats diseases and conditions of the throat. Such a physician is an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT), professionally known as a otorhinolaryngologist. The specialist, who is typically qualified to perform surgery, will most likely have recommendations for the patient. He may tell his patient to refrain from smoking, as this can cause further irritation. Gargling with an antiseptic mouthwash might also be recommended.
If a patient requires removal of the tonsil cyst as well as a tonsillectomy, the physician generally prefers to wait until the infection has been cleared. This is generally after a 10-day course of antibiotic treatment and evaluation. It is considered to be safer to operate when there are no signs of infection present.
Can I Treat Tonsil Cyst Naturally or at Home?
While tonsil cysts don’t always pose immediate harm, it’s still essential to have a healthcare professional check if a patient discovers cysts in their tonsils. Furthermore, a doctor should immediately examine one who has cysts accompanied by fever, muscle fatigue, stiff neck, or a persistent sore throat.
Tonsil cancer can be mistaken for tonsil cysts since their symptoms are very similar. If a patient is experiencing the symptoms of tonsil cysts, it’s best to take precautions and see a doctor.
If tonsil cysts have been confirmed, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In complicated cases, or in cases where the cysts are recurring, doctors might recommend having the tonsils removed surgically.
Tonsil cysts need immediate medical care, as delaying treatment can lead to severe infections.
Tonsil cysts can be prevented by taking precautions at home. These cysts are symptoms of infections in the tonsils, otherwise called tonsillitis. The infection is commonly caused by mononucleosis (mono) and bad dental hygiene. Therefore, maintaining good dental and gum hygiene can help prevent infections from occurring in the tonsils.
What Happens When Your Tonsil Cyst Bursts?
A tonsil cyst that bursts or ruptures on its own can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. When a tonsil cyst bursts, the puss-filled fluid released from the ruptured cyst can travel down the throat and spread infection throughout the body. The pus and bacteria can even spread into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
Ruptured or burst tonsil cysts are incredibly dangerous. For this reason, the goal of treating tonsil cysts is to treat the abscess early.
What Happens When Your Tonsil Cyst Bursts?
Tonsil cancer doesn’t form cysts. However as mentioned earlier, tonsil cysts and tonsil cancer have many of the same symptoms. For this reason, it’s difficult to know whether the condition is a cyst or cancer without a thorough checkup and testing by a healthcare professional.
Symptoms that overlap between tonsil cysts and tonsil cancer include:
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Ear pain
- The feeling that something is stuck in the back of the throat
Since it is difficult to visually differentiate between tonsil cysts and cancerous tumors, patients must seek proper care from a general practitioner or better yet, an ENT.
General practitioners can sometimes differentiate between a tonsil cyst and a cancerous tumor from the appearance. The difficulty comes with the similarity between sores from tonsil cancer and tonsil cysts.
Suppose the doctor or general practitioner suspects cancer. In that case, they will conduct a biopsy on the abscess to see if the lump is cancerous. They might also perform an imaging test, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a PET scan, or a computed tomography (CT) scan, to determine whether or not cancer has spread.
If cancer is detected, there are several treatment options a healthcare provider might take. Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is performed on patients in the early stages of cancer.
Radiation therapy uses a high-energy radiation beam to kill cancer cells. It shrinks tumors or kills off any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Chemotherapy is often used alongside radiation therapy to kill any slow-growing cancer cells.
The prognosis for tonsil cancer is generally favorable even if induced by human papillomavirus (HPV). Eighty-five to Ninety percent of tonsil cancers caused by HPV are expected to survive. The earlier the cancer is detected and treated, the more likely the patient is to recover fully.
Can You Get Tonsil Cysts If You Don’t Have Tonsils?
Oddly enough, people can get tonsil cysts even if they don’t have tonsils but this occurs only in extremely rare cases.
As mentioned earlier, tonsillectomy is a procedure where the tonsils are surgically removed. This routine surgery is commonly conducted on children who experience frequent tonsil infections. Getting a tonsillectomy does reduce the risk of developing diseases in the tonsils. However, the risk doesn’t outright disappear.
Some tonsil tissue is left behind during a tonsillectomy, and the leftover tonsil tissue can form tonsil cysts. For this to occur, the infection must take place in tissues near the tonsil, such as the pharynx, gums, or tongue.
Tonsil cysts, while relatively minor, can cause significant suffering and even worse when left unchecked. Knowing the different symptoms, treatment options, and similarities of tonsil cysts with other diseases is worthwhile especially when the consequences are so dire. Prevention beats a cure, so patients following the suggestions above should live happily with healthy tonsils.