North Richland Hills, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

Can Tonsils be Impacted by Cold Weather?

Young woman suffering from cold and sore tonsils drinking tea to lesson symptoms.

It’s no secret that winter is the favorite season of many people. And we understand, the snow is pretty, chilly temps can sometimes be pleasantly bracing, and we all love building snow snowmen. But there are a few drawbacks. It never fails, after lots of time spent enjoying the great winter outdoors, your body reacts. Your nose won’t stop running, you’re coughing, and your throat feels sore. A severe cold can often be the result.

So… Can weather impact your tonsils? Your tonsils are a large part of your body’s immune system, so maybe these winter symptoms can be tracked back to an issue there. You may be able to stay a bit healthier this winter if you bolster your immune system (and your tonsils).

Cold temperature can affect your health

First of all, being in the cold alone can’t make you sick. Bacteria and viruses get you sick and you don’t catch those from going out into the cold. But cold weather can have an impact on your health by lessening your body’s defenses and occasionally even wreaking a little havoc on your respiratory system. But it’s not the cold, but viruses that ultimately make you get sick.

One of the primary culprits here is the air. The air is typically very dry when it’s cold. Dry air can aggravate your throat (as the humidity drops, the mucus lining your throat dries up, if you get a sore throat only when it’s cold, this may be why). The available germ-fighting mucus is reduced by the dry air as well.

There are a couple other reasons why cold weather might impact your health:

  • You won’t go outside as much. And this means you’ll be inside with other people, normally with little to no airflow. Germs may have an easier time passing from person to person (and you’re a bit more likely to get ill as a result).
  • You could have slightly reduced body temperature. In cold temperatures, you can lose heat faster than you produce it. If your body falls below 95 degrees fahrenheit it can lead to hypothermia and if you’re losing heat too quickly over time, this condition can happen. But even before you become hypothermic, your body may not fight off disease quite as well, because it is busy keeping itself warm.
  • There tends to be more cloud cover in the winter season (and you tend to stay indoors more often because, you know, the air is so cold it stings your face). This means you’re likely to absorb less vitamin D from the sun. An efficiently working immune system needs vitamin D, and when it doesn’t get enough, it won’t be functioning at peak energy.

How are your tonsils impacted by cold weather?

Your tonsils are a significant component of your immune system. At the back of your throat sit these two clusters of lymph cells (tonsils). Their primary purpose is to filter germs (that’s a good thing for your respiratory system because you will breathe fewer germs directly into your lungs.). They even make antibodies. They’re essentially your respiratory tract’s gatekeeper.

So how are your tonsils affected by cold weather?

Even though it’s not the cold weather itself that causes you to get sick, it does have an impact on your tonsils. It works like this:

  • The more frequently you get ill, the harder your tonsils need to work.
  • This means there’s a higher chance that your tonsils can become swollen and inflamed (inflammation is a typical immune response).
  • This can lead to a sore throat that can last for two or three days (or more).

Tonsillitis is the medical name for this tonsil infection. If you get tonsillitis during the winter it won’t be any fun, but if it doesn’t clear itself up, the sustained infection can result in more serious health concerns:

  • Airways that are blocked by swollen tonsils. Breathing can be challenging because of this.
  • Pockets of pus that form behind your tonsils.

This will reduce the entire body’s immunity over time. A significant part of your immune system are your lymph cells including your tonsils. So you might be more susceptible to infections if your tonsils aren’t functioning at full capacity (or recover more slowly when you do get ill).

The symptoms of tonsillitis commonly feel very close to what you’d get from a cold or a flu. That’s why identifying tonsillitis can be a bit tricky.

Fighting tonsillitis caused by cold temperature

Your tonsils aren’t necessarily doing a poor job, but they sometimes need a little help. With the right accessories, you can do just that.

Here are some strategies that may help with your winter throat problems:

  • Use a humidifier in your home, particularly in the winter: This will help keep the air from getting too dry. If the air isn’t so dry, that protective mucus will be plentiful enough to help your immune system in keeping you healthy.
  • Dress warmly: Don’t let your body temperature to stay too cold for too long. Your immune system will have a more difficult time combating illness if can’t stay warm. So bundle up and go sit next to the fire.
  • Gargle with salt water: You can rinse away surface germs and relieve your soar throat by gargling with salty water.
  • Take vitamin D supplements: Use vitamin D supplements if you’re not getting out into the sun very much. Or invest in a sunlamp. Or a trip to Mongolia (the Gobi Desert, located in Mongolia, is one of the sunniest places on earth).
  • Drink tea: Tea has nutrients in it that are good for your overall health. We don’t advocate drinking caffeinated tea after 2 pm, but having some nice warm herbal tea can help bring your body temperature up and refresh all of your mucus makers.
  • Be certain to get outdoors: It may be colder outside than inside, but that sun-generated Vitamin D is essential to a properly working immune system. So put on some warm winter gear and get outside for some winter fun.

If you’re unable to keep your tonsils healthy, you might need to have them removed

If you’re experiencing a soar throat from cold air, how long should you expect it to continue? Usually, as long as you’re exposed to cold, dry air. Your sore throat should improve quickly when you go into a warmer more humid environment. Unless you have an infection, such as tonsillitis.

Within a few days, tonsillitis should fade on its own. But this type of infection can, in some situations, become chronic. In these cases, a tonsillectomy might be necessary. While it isn’t quite as universal as it used to be (we know a lot more about tonsils now), tonsillectomy is still sometimes the best way to give relief to patients.

We will be able to help you decide whether a tonsillectomy is right for you, or whether there are other practical treatments to try first.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.