Tonsillitis is a very common infection and it affects millions of people each year. This infection is basically of the tonsils that are the situated at the back of the throat. Tonsils are basically the collection of lymphoid tissues with the help of which the immune system is formed. Tonsillitis is a very unpleasant and uncomfortable condition which is why it is a major health concern among masses. Not only it causes difficulty in eating and drinking but it also causes hindrance while speech. Bacterial and viral infections are the main reasons behind Tonsillitis. However, a vast number of people have powerful enough immune systems to recover from tonsillitis within the matter of 7-10 days. Typical symptoms of tonsillitis includes sore throat, swollen tonsils, difficulty in eating and drinking and swelling in the neck glands. However, the treatment of tonsillitis may be different depending upon the nature of infection as it can be a viral one or a bacterial one. Surgical removal is also recommended but in very few and extreme cases. Most children and adults are vulnerable to develop tonsillitis once in lifetime.


General facts and information:

Tonsils are very much visible and these are small rounded masses of tissue that are located at the backend of the throat. Lymph nodes or the glands are composed of tissues which are similar to the tonsils and they are a part of the immune system. The basic function of tonsils is thought to help in protecting the body from external infections in the very first year of life. After a specific time period they do not appear to contribute majorly to the immune system of the body. Most people get worried before going through tonsillectomy that it will reduce their immunity but these are myths as there is no such connection between immunity and tonsillitis. Following are some general facts about tonsillitis.

  1. Tonsillitis are caused by two types of infection, one is bacterial infection and the other is viral infection.
  2. Most of the tonsillitis cases will clear without any treatment within the spam of 7-10 days.
  3. A bacterial swab and a throat examination can be used to diagnose tonsillitis.
  4. A number of infectious agents causes tonsillitis.
  5. In the early years of life tonsils act as the first line of defense against external pathogens.

Causes of Tonsillitis

The main cause of tonsillitis are viral and bacterial infections. However, viral infections play a major role as bacterial infections only cause 15-30 percent of the tonsillitis cases. There are a number of different viruses which causes tonsillitis but the cold virus is one of the most common cause. Epstein-barr virus is responsible for glandular fever, measles virus also causes tonsillitis. Strep throat is causes by the most common bacterium associated with the tonsillitis called the Sterptococcus pyogenes. Tonsillitis which is caused by this bacterium is highly contagious and measures should be taken in order to prevent the spread. Tonsillitis caused by the Epstein-Barr is also contagious the very first time and hence should be handled with care.

Signs and Symptoms

Primary symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat which is why it is important to keep a check on sore throat as well, it only starts with a cold and can take a serious turn if it converts to tonsillitis. If sore throat converts to severe sore throat than you should get it checked as it might be due to tonsillitis. Following are some most common symptoms of Tonsillitis:

  • Pain while swallowing and eating
  • Tonsils often get red and becomes swollen with pus-filled spots
  • Temperature
  • Severe headache
  • Pain in the region of neck and ear
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty in talking
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Continuous coughing
  • Chills in the body
  • Swelling in the lymph glands
  • Stomach pain and vomiting
  • Fatigue and nausea
  • Furry tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty in opening of the jaw.

In some extreme cases, there can be tonsilloliths or else known as the tonsil stones. These are the calcified build-up of material in the cervices of the tonsils. They are generally small in size as they only measure up to 3cm.


Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria is one of the main agent which causes strep throat and it is associated with bacterial tonsillitis which can result in serious complications of rheumatic fever. It can lead to damage to the heart and makes one vulnerable to kidney disease. Therefore, it is very important to seek medical attention if sore throat becomes persistent. If the infection becomes deep-seated within the tonsils than it is very important to take it seriously. This situation can also turn into most common complication of viral tonsillitis. Peritonsillar abscesses are extremely painful and if they are ignored or left untreated than they can spread into the neck region which is a life-threatening complication. It is mostly observed in teenagers but adults can also fall to this.

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of tonsillitis is reliant on the symptoms and the physical examination of the throat. However, most practitioners also take a throat swab for strep throat along with inspection of throat and tonsils. Throat swab is sent directly to a laboratory for further tests and inspection which identifies the presence of bacteria which is causing the symptoms of strep throat. Some doctors also prefer to carry out a complete blood count. This test also involves taking a tiny amount of blood to investigate the level of certain types of blood cells in the blood stream. The advantage of this bloodwork is to supplement the information taken from the swab because there are cases in which the swab do not provide with sufficient results and blood count helps in determining the best practice.

Treatment of tonsillitis usually involves rest and recovery until there is clear relief from symptoms of tonsillitis. Along with rest, it is also important to drink plenty of water and intake fluids which will help in quick recovery. It is not recommended to have solid food but instead one can have soft food and fluids. This is for tonsillitis caused by viral infections. Tonsillitis caused by bacterial infection are cured with the help of antibiotics. Antibiotics are prescribed in this case because these will help in the prevention of possibility of rheumatic fever and kidney diseases. It is crucial to take the full course of tablets as prescribed in order to make sure that all chances of rheumatic fever and kidney diseases are nullified. In the case of viral tonsillitis, antibiotics are not prescribed as they are not effective enough against viral infections. Viral tonsillitis are only cured with good light food and rest as they get better without any treatment. If you are experiencing too much pain, it is better to intake paracetamol and ibuprofen. Gargling is also a very effective remedy for pain and soreness of the throat as the salt in hot water act as a soothing agent providing people with relief. The most common drug which is used in order to cure bacterial tonsillitis is Penicillin as it helps in preventing further complications.


The removal of tonsils or also known as tonsillectomy is less common today as it was some years ago. This is because of the fact that there are more antibiotics available which are more effective in getting rid of tonsillitis. Tonsillectomy is still practiced and it is recommended to people who experience episodes of tonsillitis or bacterial tonsillitis that do not get cured with the help of antibiotics. There are some evident risks which come with surgery but these vary from person to person. Some people experience bleeding during and after the surgery. Pain in the throat and experiencing difficulty in eating which lasts only a few days after the operation. However, there are certain secondary issues which come with the secondary issues such as:

  1. Sleep apnea is very common which involves breathing problems at night.
  2. Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  3. Difficult to treat abscess
  4. Tonsillar cellulitis which may spread to other regions of the body.

There are a variety of methods that can be used in order to carry out tonsillectomy. Radio waves, lasers, ultrasonic energy, cold temperatures or simply a heated needle can be used in order to remove tonsils. However, surgery has become the last option of physicians as tonsillitis can be treated with the help of medication and there is no need to carry out unnecessary surgeries. Tonsillitis is a very irritating condition but it passes away without any serious implications.

Home remedies

There are a number of home remedies which can be used in order to make sure that you do not fall to this disease. Home remedies are the very first line of defense and it is important for this line of defense to be strong. Not only these home remedies prove to be effective but in some cases they can prevent the very happening of tonsillitis. Home remedies are used to prevent sore throat which is the very first cause of tonsillitis in most of the cases. Following are some of the home care tips which you can use in order to make sure that you ease a sore throat:

  • Consume plenty of fluids as it will not let your mouth and throat to go dry.
  • Get lots of rest so that you may recover quickly.
  • One should gargle with warm salt several times a day.
  • Make use of throat lozenges.
  • Humidifier should be used in order to moisten air in your surroundings; to prevent dryness.
  • Avoid contact with smoke as it is harmful and assists the conditions of sore throat.

These home remedies are beneficial at early stages only and these cannot be replaced as the medication or treatment for tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis complications

There are some serious complications which follow tonsillitis and one should be more than careful to avoid these complications. In a number of cases all such people who experienced chronic tonsillitis started to experience obstructive sleep apnea which is one of the major complications of tonsillitis. In the condition of sleep apnea, the airway swells and prevents a person from having a sound sleep. In such cases, it is also possible that they infection may get worse and spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, it is important to attend to this complication straightaway and do not let in prevail in the body.

In another complication which is known as the tonsillar cellulitis, a pus may develop behind the tonsils which can cause severe pain while eating, drinking or swallowing, this condition is also known as peritonsillar abscess. In order to get rid of this complication you need to undergo surgery as it requires drainage to get puss out of the tonsils. Surgery is the only way to get rid of this complication as there is no other method to do so. Medications are not effective in this case as they do not help in getting rid of the puss. However, if a person is on medication for Tonsillitis, it is important to take the full course of antibiotics as it will kill all the bacteria, if you chose not to take the full course, you may develop other complications such as the rheumatic fever which may lead to serious and severe consequences.

Prevention of Tonsillitis

It is a very contagious disease which is why it is important to know about methods which could help in preventing tonsillitis. If you want to decrease the risk of getting tonsillitis you should stay away from people who have active infections. Take personal hygienic measures like washing your hands after coming in contact with people who have a sore throat or cold. Same goes for you, if you are the one suffering from tonsillitis you should stay away from people as it is a contagious disease and spreads through contact. Tonsillitis which is left untreated can result in infection which spreads in surrounding tissues as well. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention as you as you feel that you are developing a condition. This article has all the information regarding Tonsillitis, symptoms, cure and prevention. If you are still looking for answers regarding this disease it is recommended that you consult a doctor.

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