Stephenville, TX

Abilene, Stephenville and Brownwood, TX

Does Cold Weather Impact Tonsils?

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

It’s no secret that winter is the favorite season of lots of people. And it’s no surprise, it’s a beautiful season with tons of fun things to do. But there are a number of drawbacks. It never fails, after lots of time spent enjoying the great winter weather, your body responds. You start coughing a little more often; your nose runs constantly; and you develop some fun winter throat problems. Frequently, this turns into a full-blown cold.

So… can weather have an impact on your tonsils? Your tonsils are a large part of your body’s immune system, so perhaps these winter symptoms can be traced back to a problem there. You may be able to stay a bit healthier this winter if you reinforce your immune system (and your tonsils).

Cold temperature can impact your health

So let’s get this off the table: cold weather doesn’t make you sick. Viruses and bacteria get you sick and you don’t catch those from going out into the cold. Cold weather can, however, bring about major issues with your respiratory system and weaken your body’s defenses. But it’s not the cold, but viruses that ultimately make you get sick.

One of the main contributors here is the air. The air is usually very dry when it’s cold. Dry air can irritate 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 might be why). This dry air also decreases the amount of germ-fighting mucus present inside your nose (yes, that mucus is good for something).

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

  • You won’t go outdoors as often. And being indoors a lot, with other people, and lack of airflow, can be a health issue. You could be more subject to germs moving from person to person and consequently, you may be more likely to get ill.
  • There is usually more cloud cover during the winter season (and you normally stay indoors more often because, you know, the air is so cold it hurts your face). So your intake of sunlight will be less and you will be getting less vitamin D. As vitamin D is crucial to a properly functioning immune system, your principal defenses against germs may not be operating at their best.
  • You could have slightly lower body temperature. When you’re in the cold, your body may not be able to produce heat as fast as it loses it. Over time, this can result in hypothermia (this is a serious condition when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees fahrenheit). But even before you go into hypothermia, your body might not fight off disease quite as well, because it is busy keeping itself warm.

How does cold weather affect your tonsils?

Your tonsils are an important component of your immune system. At the back of your throat sit these two bundles of lymph cells (tonsils). Their main purpose is to filter germs (that means you suck less germs right into your lungs, and that’s nice for your respiratory system). They even produce antibodies. You can view them as the rather virtuous gatekeepers of your respiratory system.

How cold weather affects your tonsils

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

  • The more frequently you get ill, the more difficult your tonsils have to work.
  • Inflammation is a common immune response and that means the risk of inflamed tonsils is increased.
  • A two or three day (plus) soar throat can be the outcome.

Tonsillitis is the name of this tonsil infection. Tonsillitis in the winter isn’t fun, but if your tonsillitis doesn’t clear up by itself, long term infections can cause even more issues:

  • Inflamed tonsils that block your airway. This can make it difficult to breathe.
  • Infectious pockets of pus.

Over time, this can decrease immunity throughout your entire body. Lymph cells, including your tonsils, are an essential facet of your immune system. So when your tonsils aren’t functioning at 100%, you may become more vulnerable to some types of infections (or recover more slowly when you do get ill).

Tonsillitis will typically manifest symptoms quite similar to a cold or flu. That’s why identifying tonsillitis can be a bit tricky.

Battling tonsillitis caused by cold weather

It isn’t that your tonsils are bad at their job, it’s just that they need a little help. With the correct accessories, you can do just that.

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

  • Take vitamin D supplements: Take vitamin D supplements if you’re not getting out into the sun very much. Or invest in a sunlamp. Or maybe a couple of vacations to a sunnier place.
  • Drink tea: It’s full of good stuff for you! We don’t recommend drinking caffeinated tea after 2 pm, but having some nice warm herbal tea can help raise your body temperature and refresh all of your mucus makers.
  • Gargle with salt water: For lots of reasons that have to do with the physics of liquids and such, gargling with salt water can help you relieve your sore throat and get rid of some of the surface level germs around your tonsils.
  • Dress warm: Don’t allow your body temperature to stay too cold for too long. Over time, this makes it hard for your immune system to combat infections, bacteria, and viruses. So bundle up and go sit near the fire.
  • Make sure you get outside: You need to get vitamin D whether it’s cold or not. So put on your jacket and go for a hike!
  • Utilizing a humidifier will keep the air in your home from drying out too much, particularly during cold months. Mucus helps the immune system protect your body from infection, and when the air is less dry your immune system will have more of it to work with.

If you can’t keep your tonsils healthy, you might need to remove them

How long does a sore throat from cold air last? Soreness in your throat will typically last until you get out of the cold, dry air. Your sore throat should go away quickly when you go into a warmer more humid environment. But if you have an infection such as tonsillitis, it will take more than warm moist air.

Within a few days, tonsillitis should clear itself up. But this kind of infection can, in some circumstances, become chronic. In these situations, a tonsillectomy may be required. Nowadays, a tonsillectomy isn’t as common as it once was, but there are some circumstances where it’s still the best solution.

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.