Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat one tonsil on each side. They function as a defense mechanism and help prevent your body from getting an infection. When tonsils become infected, the condition is called tonsillitis. Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck. Tonsillitis can occur at any age and is a common childhood illness. It’s most often diagnosed in children from preschool age through their mid-teens.

     Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by infection with a common virus, but bacterial infections also may cause tonsillitis. When tonsillitis occurs the tonsils get inflamed and swell up which causes nasal obstruction and/or breathing, swallowing and sleep problem.  It’s important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. Surgery to remove tonsils, once a common procedure to treat tonsillitis, is usually performed only when bacterial tonsillitis occurs frequently, doesn’t respond to other treatments or causes serious complications.

    They filter bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth or nose, but they themselves can sometimes become infected. Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils caused by viruses and bacteria. 

Symptoms of Tonsillitis:

There are 3 types of tonsillitis: acute, chronic, and recurrent. Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and the mid-teenage years. Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Throat pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Enlarged or swollen tonsils
  • a scratchy sounding voice
  • A whitish or yellowish coating on the tonsils
  • Chills
  • Sore an itchy throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Stomach ache
  • Raspy voice
  • jaw and neck tenderness from swollen lymph nodes
  • Bad breath
  • tonsils that appear red and swollen
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
  • Disturbed sleep
  • A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
  • Nausea
  • Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Refusal to eat
  • Jaw pain
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual fussiness
  • Stomach pain

Causes for Tonsillitis:

Tonsillitis is most often caused by common viruses, but bacterial infections can also be the cause. The tonsils combat bacteria and viruses that enter your body through your mouth and nose. The most common bacterium causing tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus), the bacterium that causes strep throat. Other strains of strep and other bacteria also may cause tonsillitis.  It is a very common childhood condition and can occur at any age.

     Tonsillitis can be caused by a virus, such as the common cold, or by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. The viruses cause infections such as the common cold and flu, or and there is the EBV virus that causes mononucleosis mono also known as the kissing disease. The most common bacterium that causes tonsillitis is the one that causes strep throat especially in children, called Streptococcus pyogenes.

Diagnosis and treatment:

A general physician asks for the medical history of the patient and then performs a physical examination. Your doctor may also take a throat culture by gently swabbing the back of your throat. Your doctor may also take a sample of your blood for a complete blood count. This test can show whether your infection is viral or bacterial, which may affect your treatment options. For severe cases, the doctor might ask a swab test to be done in which the doctor rubs a sterile swab over the back of the patient ’s throat to get a sample of secretions. This sample is then sent to the laboratory for testing. Using a lighted instrument to look at your child’s throat and likely his or her ears and nose, this may also be sites of infection

There’s no specific treatment for viral tonsillitis. Treatment for tonsillitis depends largely on the cause of the disease Treatment for tonsillitis depends largely on the cause of the disease. Pain medicines to relieve the sore throat can also help while the throat is healing. If the cause of this disease is a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be prescribed. If the cause is viral infection antibiotics will not help in treatment, and your immune system will fight off the infection on its own. A mild case of tonsillitis doesn’t necessarily require treatment, especially if a virus, such as a cold, causes it. If a person becomes dehydrated due to tonsillitis, they may need intravenous fluids.

Surgery to remove tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be used to treat frequently recurring tonsillitis, chronic tonsillitis or bacterial tonsillitis that doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment. 


To decrease your risk of getting tonsillitis, stay away from people who have active infections. If you have tonsillitis, try to keep away from others until you’re no longer contagious.

  • Wash his or her hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet and before eating
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, water bottles or utensils
  • get lots of rest
  • Replace his or her toothbrush after being diagnosed with tonsillitis
  • Gargle with warm salt water several times a day
  • Keep your child at home when he or she is ill
  • use throat lozenges
  • Ask your doctor when it’s all right for your child to return to school
  • eat popsicles or other frozen foods
  • Warm liquids  broth, caffeine-free tea or warm water with honey  and cold treats like ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, when necessary, into his or her elbow
  • use a humidifier to moisten the air in your home
  • Teach your child to wash his or her hands after sneezing or coughing
  • avoid smoke
  • Offer lozenges. Children older than age 4 can suck on lozenges to relieve a sore throat.
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Give your child plenty of water to keep his or her throat moist and prevent dehydration.

Tonsillitis is more common in children, but adults can also develop the condition. If you develop tonsillitis, a viral infection is the most likely culprit, but it could also be caused by a bacterial infection. Tonsillitis left untreated can result in the infection spreading to the area behind the tonsils or to the surrounding tissue. If your condition keeps coming back, is severe or doesn’t respond to simple treatment, talk to your doctor about whether surgery is right for you.



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