Diseases & Conditions


TonsillitisCausesDiagnosisPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentReason

What is Tonsillitis?

When tonsils, or the two roundish tissue pads at the backside of the throat, get inflamed, the condition is known as tonsillitis.

Causes of Tonsillitis

In most cases, a common cold virus is responsible for causing tonsillitis. But there are other bacterial and viral infections that can be the reason. Most commonly, it is the Streptococcus Pyogenes bacterium, or the bacterium responsible for strep throat- group A streptococcus, that causes tonsillitis.

Diagnosis of Tonsillitis

Diagnosis of tonsillitis typically adheres to the following pattern:

  • Physical examination that includes looking at the child's throat and other sites of infection like nose and ears, gently patting down and feeling your child's neck to check for swelling of lymph nodes and listening for irregularity in his or her breathing with the help of a stethoscope
  • A swap from the throat which will be checked in a lab for streptococcal bacteria
  • Blood test that looks at Complete Blood cell Count (CBC)

Prevention of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis causing germs are highly contagious. Therefore, the most effective way to prevent tonsillitis is good general hygiene. Some common steps you may want to take to prevent tonsillitis:

  • Ensuring that your child washes his or her hands regularly, especially before meals, after playing and after using the toilet
  • Discouraging your child from sharing utensils, drinking glasses or food
  • Keeping your child away from children who are infected with tonsillitis

Risk Factors of Tonsillitis

The two most common risk factors of tonsillitis are:

  • Young age
  • Repeated exposure to other infected children or germs

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is most common amongst children between 2 and 16 years of age. Common symptoms of tonsillitis may include:

  • Yellow or white patches or coating on the tonsils
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Pain or difficulty in swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged, tender glands in the neck
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Voice becoming throaty, muffled or scratchy
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Pain in the stomach, particularly in infants and toddlers
  • In very young children, the symptoms of tonsillitis are likely to include:

  • Unusual fussiness
  • Refusal to eat
  • Drooling due to pain or difficulty in swallowing
  • Treatment of Tonsillitis

    In case of a viral infection, it is best to use at-home care is best suited for treating tonsillitis. Here are some of them:

    • Encourage rest
    • Provide comforting foods and beverage
    • Provide adequate fluids
    • Humidify the air
    • Prepare a saltwater gargle
    • Avoid irritants
    • Offer lozenges
    • Treat pain and fever with appropriate medication after consulting the doctor.

    In case of a bacterial infection, the doctor is likely to prescribe an antibiotic. Penicillin is usually prescribed for a period of ten days for tonsillitis.

    Surgery may be an option to treat tonsillitis if it recurs frequently, is chronic, or doesn't respond to treatment by antibiotics. Surgery performed to remove the tonsils is called tonsillectomy. A surgery may also be recommended if tonsillitis results in difficulties, such as:

    • Breathing difficulty
    • Obstructed sleep apnea
    • A peri-tonsillar abscess that doesn't respond to antibiotic treatment

    Reason for Tonsillitis

    Tonsils are a part of our immune system and they are capable of producing some kinds of disease-fighting white blood corpuscles. They defend our bodies against viruses and bacteria that enter through the mouth. But, at the same time, they are vulnerable to infections and inflammation caused by these bacteria and virus. Since, the functions of the tonsils as part of the immune system comes to an end after puberty, there are very few instances of tonsillitis amongst adults.