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What does it mean if a person has one enlarged tonsil?

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A single enlarged tonsil can be a sign of a tonsillolith, or tonsil stone, according to WebMD. It can also be a sign of tonsil cancer, according to Healthgrades.

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Tonsil stones are similar to kidney stones and occur when bacteria or detritus becomes trapped in the tonsil and calcifies into a hardened object, which can irritate and inflame the tonsil. A common side effect of a tonsillolith is halitosis, or bad breath, states WebMD. A tonsil stone can also cause sore throat and earaches and make swallowing uncomfortable. Tonsil stones are sometimes visible to the eye as solid white lumps, but in some cases, a doctor may need to use an X-ray or other diagnostic scan to identify the irritant.

Tonsil cancer can occur on any of the tonsils in the throat, and smoking and alcohol abuse increase the likelihood of individuals developing cancerous cells. Tonsil cancer can also cause bad breath as well as sores in the throat, bleeding, weight loss, ear pain and a change in the way things taste. As the cancer grows, it can impede normal activities, such as talking, swallowing and breathing. Individuals with advanced tonsil cancer may have difficulty opening their mouths. Individuals with these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention if they have difficulty breathing or experience vomiting with blood, advises Healthgrades.

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