The lingual tonsils are pads of skin located at the base of your tongue and consist of lymph nodes, a type of immune-system structure. When exposed to bacteria or viruses, the lingual tonsils may become inflamed.
The bacteria or viruses that cause inflamed lingual tonsils typically enter your body through your mouth, eyes or nasal passages. Doctors sometimes call this inflammation tonsillitis, which the Mayo Clinic explains is a common condition, especially in children.
Symptoms of inflamed lingual tonsils include white patches at the base of your tongue, a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, headaches, fever, chills or loss of voice, reports the Mayo Clinic. Children also may develop abdominal pain.
Doctors can see the signs of lingual tonsil inflammation through a physical examination. Often, doctors take a swab of the area, which is examined in a laboratory to detect whether the cause is viral or bacterial.
Inflamed lingual tonsils caused by bacteria are typically treated with oral antibiotics used for approximately 10 days, according to Medline Plus. Viral infections will not respond to antibiotics and must typically be allowed to run their course; however, individuals who develop frequent viral tonsillitis may need to have their lingual tonsils surgically removed.
Symptoms of bacterial lingual tonsillitis usually improve within two to three days of antibiotic treatment, explains Medline Plus. Viral tonsillitis may require one to two weeks to clear, reports the Mayo Clinic.