Tonsillitis - Symptoms And Other Facts


Falling sick due to cough and cold is a common phenomenon, but sore throat that pains and irritates horribly can be a cause for concern.

One reason for sore throat could be a consequence of Tonsillitis or infection-induced tonsillitis. It is often caused by a common cold. The virus causing this initially results in sniffles and a scratchy throat, but it can then progress to a tonsil infection. Nevertheless, bacterial infections can also cause tonsillitis.

What exactly is tonsillitis?

The tonsils are two lymph nodes positioned on either side of the rear of the throat. They function as filters, preventing pathogens from entering the airways.

Tonsils, on the other hand, are susceptible to bacterial and viral infection, causing them to swell and become inflamed. This medical condition is known as Tonsillitis. Also, tonsillitis majorly occurs in children and affects them the most.

What are the causes of tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is typically caused by viruses that cause the common cold. Rhinovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, Hepatitis A, and HIV are a few more infections that can cause tonsillitis. Bacterial infections are another possibility.

Moreover, Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacteria that causes strep throat, is one of the most prevalent bacteria that cause tonsillitis. This illness can also be caused by different strains of strep and other germs. Bacterial tonsillitis is more prevalent in children aged 5 to 15 years.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

Let’s understand the symptoms of tonsillitis in detail:

Acute tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is most common in children, but it is unusual in children under the age of 2.

The symptoms could be the following:

  • Fever
  • Throat discomfort
  • Breath that stinks
  • Swallowing Difficulties (called dysphagia)
  • Swallowing is painful (called odynophagia)
  • Dehydration
  • Neck lymph nodes that are tender
  • Snoring, snoring, or sleep apnea are all symptoms of mouth breathing.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, and malaise
  • White spot on tonsil, pus, or redness


Scarlet fever – This is another symptom of acute tonsillitis. A fine red rash all over the body indicates Scarlet fever that may worsen over the next few days. These symptoms often disappear in 3 to 4 days, although they might last up to 2 weeks.

Chronic Tonsillitis

Some of the symptoms of chronic tonsillitis are:

  • Recurring painful throat
  • Breath that stinks
  • Tonsil rocks (debris that has collected on your tonsils)
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck that persists

Peritonsillar Abscess – A peritonsillar abscess is a severe form of tonsillitis in which pus-filled abscess forms around the tonsil. It is most common in teenagers and adults, but it can occur in children on occasion.

Peritonsillar tonsillitis symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Throat discomfort
  • Drooling
  • Opening the mouth is difficult (Trismus)
  • Voice quality is muffled.
  • One tonsil may be noticeably larger than the other

For some people, tonsillitis could be repetitive episodes. They may keep developing acute tonsillitis, in which symptoms reappear shortly, even after a course of antibiotic medication.

Is tonsillitis contagious?

Tonsillitis is caused by a number of viruses or bacteria and is infectious, which means it spreads from one person to another.

What are the treatment options?

Patients with tonsillitis should see their general care physician or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, also known as an otolaryngologist. A doctor will often swab the tonsils or throat to establish whether a patient has a viral or bacterial illness.

Viral tonsillitis normally resolves without the need for additional treatment. Nonetheless, hydration and pain management are critical. Bacterial tonsillitis needs antibiotics which help tonsils heal faster and prevent complications such as rheumatic fever.

It must be noted that surgery may be required to remove the tonsils in some cases, especially in children with recurrent cases of tonsillitis. But whether surgery is necessary or not; your ENT specialist will do a thorough diagnosis and decide the same. Surgery might also be undertaken to drain the abscess around the tonsil if a patient suffers a severe case of tonsillitis (peritonsillar abscess).

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 Dr Peter Baptista Jardin

European Board Certified ENT Doctor In Dubai

Dr. Peter Baptista Jardin is an ENT specialist with a special interest in treating sleep apnea. He is a revered expert in Spain for performing the first ever robotic transoral surgery in 2011, and the only series of hypoglossal nerve stimulation proved revolutionary for obstructive sleep apnea treatment worldwide. He currently serves as an ENT doctor in Dubai’s Al Zahra Hospital.