Ask The Allergista: Can allergies cause swollen tonsils and hives? What do you recommend?


hi! My son has recently been getting hives, the swollen kind, on different parts of his body including his tonsils (also getting swollen). He is 33. When he was a young boy he had these hives and by the process of elimination and keeping a record of everything he ate for awhile, i discovered he is allergic to food coloring and msg.

Today his tonsils swelled and the only thing he could think of that he ate to cause this was some Reeses Pieces which contain food dyes!

He is in the midst of being tested for allergies. The skin testing only showed he is allergic to mold, and not that badly. He will be getting some blood work done also as written up by the allergist.

Do you know about this type of hives and about tonsils getting swollen as a reaction to an allergy? Do you know anything about treatment aside from the typical Benadryl or antihistamine treatment? Just wondering. If you have any ideas, pls. get back to me.

Thx. so much


I'm so sorry to hear about your son! I've done a little bit of research and it turns out that tonsils can indeed get swollen due to allergies. I'm glad you asked, because I didn't know that! I love learning new allergy information.

Swollen tonsils can be brought on by hay fever or pollen food allergy. Pollen food allergy occurs when you have an allergy to pollen and eat something that contains similar proteins to the kind in pollen. If you find out that he's allergic to a specific type of pollen, do some research on the foods that mimic that specific pollen protein. It sounds like pollen didn't come up in his skin allergy test, but maybe it could be something else. I feel like since it's possible for the throat to react to anything at all in the first place... then it's possible for the throat to react to substances we're not aware of at this time - simply because the research hasn't gone far enough yet. It's definitely a possibility is my point.

I recommend gargling and trying a typical sinus flush - this one's by NeilMed. If his throat is reacting, then it can't hurt to clean out the sinuses and throat.

And here's an extra cool pulsatile sinus rinse machine by Sanvic. I actually just got one and am going to try it for the first time tonight!

As far as if the hives are occurring due to an allergy, they absolutely can. That's my biggest symptom of allergies in addition to being stuffed up, having digestion issues and even feeling nauseous. I was hive/eczema free for a few weeks recently when I went on vacation and unfortunately, it's starting to come back. I think our cat and our carpet are a big part of the problem, but anyways.

For your son's skin reactions, I recommend this Calendulis Cream by The Eczema Company. It's the only thing aside from steroids that's been helpful at battling the allergic reactions on my skin... and steroids are STRONG. (UPDATE - propylene glycol has been added to the cream, so The Eczema Company pulled it from their store and I no longer use it because I'm allergic to PG)

Also, here's what I do when my skin freaks out in general.

I hope this helps! Or at least gives you some more ideas.


The Allergista