Are you or your child dealing with uncomfortable swelling of the tonsils? Enlarged tonsils can cause discomfort and pain, especially when trying to sleep. In this article, we’ll explore best practices for managing and sleeping comfortably with enlarged tonsils.

Causes and Symptoms of Enlarged Tonsils

Tonsil swelling (or tonsillitis) can be caused by a variety of factors, including viral and bacterial infections, allergies, and exposure to tobacco smoke. The most common cause of enlarged tonsils is infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, also known as mononucleosis. In younger children, tonsillitis is often caused by the same type of viruses that lead to the common cold.

Enlarged tonsils can contribute to a number of symptoms, including difficulty swallowing, a sensation of something being stuck in the throat, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. They can also contribute to other symptoms, such as bad breath, snoring, and, in the case of children, bedwetting or nightmares.

Treating Enlarged Tonsils

If you suspect that you or your child has enlarged tonsils, the first step is to see a healthcare professional, who can make an appropriate diagnosis. Depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition, treatment may include antibiotics, antiviral medications, and non-prescription analgesics (pain relief medications).

In some cases, enlarged tonsils may require more aggressive treatment, such as surgical removal. This procedure, known as a tonsillectomy, is commonly performed in children, although it can be done in adults as well. Tonsillectomy is generally reserved for cases of severe or persistent tonsillitis, and in most cases, the symptoms usually improve with other forms of treatment.

Sleeping Comfortably with Enlarged Tonsils

If you or your child is dealing with the discomfort of enlarged tonsils when trying to sleep, there are several steps you can take to help reduce the symptoms and improve quality of sleep.

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids can help to soothe a sore throat and reduce discomfort caused by enlarged tonsils. Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day, and consider offering sugar-free popsicles to help keep them hydrated.

2. Use a humidifier

Dry air can exacerbate the discomfort of enlarged tonsils, so using a humidifier in the bedroom can help to increase humidity levels and provide relief. If you don’t have a humidifier, consider hanging a wet towel near the bed or placing a bowl of water in the room before bedtime.

3. Elevate the head

Elevating the head of the bed can help to reduce snoring and ease breathing difficulties caused by enlarged tonsils. You can achieve this by placing a few pillows under the head of the mattress or using a specialized bed wedge.

4. Avoid allergens

If allergies are contributing to the discomfort of enlarged tonsils, take steps to minimize exposure to allergens. Keep the bedroom clean and dust-free, and consider using hypoallergenic bedding and air filters. If pets are a trigger for allergies, it may be best to sleep in a pet-free room.

5. Use over-the-counter medications

If symptoms of enlarged tonsils are particularly severe, over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and antihistamines may provide relief. However, it’s important to use these medications as directed and to consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen.


Enlarged tonsils can cause discomfort and difficulty sleeping, especially in children. In many cases, the symptoms of enlarged tonsils can be managed with no or minimal medical intervention. Drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier, elevating the head of the bed, minimizing exposure to allergens, and using over-the-counter medications are all effective ways to manage and reduce the symptoms of enlarged tonsils. If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out other underlying conditions and determine the best course of treatment.