What Is Tonsillitis?

What Is Tonsillitis?
Tonsils are oval-shaped tissue pads inside our mouths at the back of our throats.

Tonsillitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, And Home Remedies

Exactly What Is Tonsillitis?

Inside our mouth are two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat called tonsils. Inflammation in the tonsils is called tonsillitis. Due to tonsillitis, the sufferer may also face a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, and quite often speaking.

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a common virus infection, but bacterial infections can also cause tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is usually caused by streptococcal bacteria, which causes strep throat (a bacterial infection that causes swelling and pain in the throat). If left untreated, tonsillitis caused by strep throat can lead to serious complications. Since the appropriate treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause, it is important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. Surgery can be done to remove the tonsils, which is done when this problem starts recurring and the person has to face many complications because of it.

How many types of tonsils are there?

People who struggle with tonsillitis are well aware of its severity. The rest you can guess about its severity from the fact that there are six types of it. All six types of tonsillitis are described below:-

Acute Tonsillitis – In this form of tonsillitis, a bacteria or virus infects the tonsils, causing swelling and soreness in the throat. In this type, the tonsils may develop a gray or white coating. Acute tonsillitis occurs suddenly and does not last long.

Chronic Tonsillitis – If a person is having tonsils again and again, then it is kept in the category of chronic tonsillitis. Sometimes chronic tonsillitis occurs as a result of repeated occurrences of acute tonsillitis.

Peritonsillar Abscess – In this type of tonsillitis pus accumulates around the infected tonsils which pushes it in the opposite direction. The peritonsillar abscess should be drained immediately. The type of tonsillitis is considered quite serious.

Acute Mononucleosis – This type of acute mononucleosis is usually caused by exposure to the Epstein Barr virus. ‘Mono’ can cause severe swelling of the tonsils, fever, sore throat, rash, and fatigue.

Strep Throat – Strep throat type of tonsillitis is caused by a bacteria called streptococcus. In this, not only the tonsils but also the throat becomes very seriously infected. Sore throat is often accompanied by fever and neck pain.

Tonsilloliths or Tonsil Stones – Tonsillitis type of tonsil stones or tonsilloliths occurs to a person when some waste gets stuck in the throat and it becomes hard.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis can happen at any time. But this problem mainly occurs during adolescence and mid-teens. When a person has tonsillitis, the following symptoms appear during that time:-

  1. Swollen tonsils
  2. Reddening of tonsils
  3. White or yellowish coating or spots on the tonsils
  4. Sore throat
  5. Difficulty or pain swallowing
  6. Difficulty speaking when in critical condition
  7. Fever (sometimes tonsils are also caused due to fever)
  8. Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  9. A hoarse or throaty sound
  10. Bad breath
  11. Stomach ache
  12. Pain in the neck
  13. Stiff neck
  14. Headache problems (this can range from mild to severe)

Young children who have not yet started speaking can also have the problem of tonsillitis. Symptoms of tonsillitis in young children can be identified by:

  1. Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
  2. Refusal to eat
  3. Unusual haste

When should I see a doctor if my child has tonsillitis?

If your child has symptoms that may indicate tonsillitis, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. During this time, if you see the following problems in your child along with the above-mentioned symptoms, then you should contact the doctor as soon as possible:-

  1. Sore throat with fever
  2. Sore throat that does not go away within 24 to 48 hours
  3. Painful or difficult to swallow
  4. Extreme weakness, tiredness, or fussiness

In addition to the above symptoms, if your child or an adult has the following problems due to tonsillitis, then you should see a doctor in an emergency:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Extreme difficulty swallowing
  3. Excessive drooling

What is the cause of tonsillitis?

Tonsils are your first line of defense against disease. They produce white blood cells that help your body fight infection.

Tonsils fight bacteria and viruses that enter your body through your mouth and nose. However, tonsils are also vulnerable to infection from the pathogens they help keep away. In simple words, a person has the problem of tonsillitis while fighting the virus and giving protection to the body.

A virus, such as the common cold, can trigger tonsillitis. Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, are also possible causes.

What are the risk factors for tonsillitis?

There is not many risk factor for getting tonsillitis, it has only two following risk factors:-

Young age: Tonsillitis most often affects children, and tonsillitis caused by bacteria is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15.

Frequent exposure to germs: School-age children are in close contact with their peers and are often exposed to viruses or bacteria that can cause tonsillitis.

What complications can arise from tonsillitis?

If a person is having tonsillitis again and again, then it can lead to complications related to inflammation and swelling of the tonsils, the following are the main ones:-

  1. Interrupted breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
  2. Infection that spreads deeper into surrounding tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)
  3. Infection that results in accumulation of pus behind the tonsils (peritonsillar abscess)

Tonsillitis vs Strep Throat

Tonsillitis and strep throat can in some cases result from the same bacteria, but they are not the same.

Many different bacteria or viruses can cause tonsillitis, including Group A Streptococcus bacteria. This bacteria is the only cause of strep throat. Both conditions are contagious, so you should try to stay away from other people if you think you may be dealing with either of these problems.

If tonsillitis caused by group A streptococcus or any other strain of streptococcal bacteria is left untreated or if antibiotic treatment is incomplete, your child has an increased risk of rare disorders such as:

  1. Rheumatic fever, a serious inflammatory condition that can affect the heart, joints, nervous system, and skin
  2. Complications of scarlet fever, a streptococcal infection characterized by a prominent rash
  3. Inflammation of the Kidneys (Poststreptococcal Glomerulonephritis – Poststreptococcal Glomerulonephritis)
  4. Poststreptococcal reactive arthritis, is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints.

How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

If you think that your child has a problem with tonsillitis, then the doctor will first identify the symptoms and along with this will do the following physical examination:-

  1. Checking for a rash known as scarlatina, which is associated with some cases of strep throat.
  2. Gently feel (palpitations) your child’s neck to check for swollen glands (lymph nodes).
  3. Listening to his breath with a stethoscope.
  4. Check for enlargement of the spleen (to consider mononucleosis, which also enlarges the tonsils).

Throat Swab

With this simple test, the doctor rubs a sterile swab down the back of your child’s throat to get a sample of the secretions. The sample will be checked in the clinic or laboratory for streptococcal bacteria.

If the rapid in-clinic test comes back positive, your child almost certainly has a bacterial infection. If the test comes back negative, your child is likely to have a viral infection. Your doctor, however, will wait for a more reliable out-of-clinic lab test to determine the cause of the infection.

Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC)

Your doctor may prescribe a complete blood cell count (CBC) with a small sample of your child’s blood. The result of this test, which can often be completed in a clinic, counts the different types of blood cells. It provides complete information about what is high and what is low in the body, and this gives information about whether the infection is more likely to be caused by a bacterial or viral agent. Often a CBC is not needed to diagnose strep throat. However, if the strep throat lab test is negative, a CBC may be needed to help determine the cause of tonsillitis.

How Is Tonsillitis Treated?

A mild case of tonsillitis does not require treatment, especially if it is caused by a virus, such as a cold. Treatment of more severe cases of tonsillitis may include antibiotics or tonsillectomy. If a person experiences dehydration due to tonsillitis, they may also need intravenous fluids. Pain medications to relieve a sore throat can also help the throat heal. If the problem increases, then according to the current situation, this problem can be treated in the following ways:-


If tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. Penicillin taken by mouth for 10 days is the most common antibiotic treatment prescribed for tonsillitis caused by group A streptococcus. If your child is allergic to penicillin, your doctor may prescribe an alternative antibiotic.

Your child should take the full course of prescribed antibiotics, even if the symptoms go away completely. Failure to take all medications as directed may result in worsening of the infection or spread to other parts of the body. Not completing the full course of antibiotics can, in particular, increase your child’s risk of rheumatic fever and severe kidney inflammation.


Surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be used to treat recurrent tonsillitis, chronic tonsillitis, or bacterial tonsillitis that does not get better with antibiotic treatment. Recurrent tonsillitis is usually defined as:

  1. Occurring at least seven times or more in the previous year
  2. Occurring at least five times in a year or more in the last two years
  3. Occurring at least thrice in a year or more in the last three years

Tonsillectomy can also be done if a person has to deal with many serious conditions due to tonsillitis and has to face other complications (mentioned above). Tonsillectomy is surgery for tonsillitis that is performed during the following conditions:-

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Difficulty swallowing (especially meats and other chunky foods)
  4. An abscess that does not improve with antibiotic treatment

Tonsillectomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, unless your child is very young, has a complicated medical condition or complications arise during surgery. This means that your child should be able to go home on the day of surgery. Full recovery usually takes seven to 14 days.

Home Remedies for Tonsillitis

Whether tonsillitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, home care strategies can make your child more comfortable and recover much more quickly. If a virus is the expected cause of tonsillitis, the following strategies are the only treatment. Your doctor will not recommend taking antibiotics. Your baby will be fine in seven to 10 days. Home care strategies used during recovery time include:

  • Encourage rest – Encourage your baby to get enough sleep.
  • Serve comforting foods and beverages – Give your baby plenty of water to keep his throat moist and prevent dehydration.
  • Provide comfort food and beverages, Warm liquids Broth, caffeine-free tea, or warm water with honey – and cold remedies such as ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
  • Prepare a salt water gargle If your child can do gargles, mixing 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 ml) of warm water can help with saltwater gargling for sore throat. relief can be obtained. Ask your child to gargle with the solution and then spit it out.
  • Make sure the air is humid Use a cool-air humidifier to eliminate dry air that can make a sore throat worse, or ask your child to sit in a steamy bathroom for several minutes.
  • Offer lozenges – Children above 4 years of age can suck on lozenges to get relief from sore throat.
  • Avoid Irritants – Keep your home free from cigarette smoke and cleaning products that can irritate the throat.
  • Treat pain and fever – Talk to your doctor about using ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to ease throat pain and control fever. Talk. A low fever without pain does not require treatment.

Children and adolescents should not take aspirin unless aspirin has been prescribed by a doctor to treat a specific illness. The use of aspirin by children to treat the symptoms of illnesses such as a cold or flu has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.

Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

Tonsillitis is not contagious, but the infectious organisms it causes can spread to other people for 24 to 48 hours before developing any symptoms. They can spread to others as long as you are not sick. For about 24 hours after taking antibiotics, bacteria or viruses will no longer be able to reach other people.

You can develop tonsillitis if someone who already has tonsillitis contagious coughs or sneezes, and breathe in the droplets. You can also get tonsillitis if you touch an object that contains potentially infectious organisms, such as a doorknob, and then touch your nose or mouth.

Being in contact with too many people increases the risk of exposure to the bacteria and viruses that cause tonsillitis. This is the reason why school children often get this disease. If you have symptoms, it is best to stay at home to avoid spreading tonsillitis.

It usually takes 2 to 4 days for symptoms to develop after exposure. Find out how to reduce your risk of getting or spreading tonsillitis.

Why is tonsillitis painful?

We all know that tonsillitis is a painful problem, but now the question is, why does it hurt? So the following are some of the reasons, why the patient has normal to severe pain due to tonsillitis:-

  • When the tonsils enlarge due to inflammation, they cause pain.
  • Tonsillitis causes sore throat, which causes pain.
  • Due to inflammation of the tonsils, there is trouble swallowing anything, which causes pain.
  • White-colored spots on the places of tonsils, cause problems.
  • The patient has a fever of more than 100 degrees centigrade, due to which there is a lot of fatigue.
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting.

How long does tonsillitis last?

How long tonsillitis will last and how many problems it will cause depends on what type of tonsillitis the person has had. A person is prone to have six types of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can last for the following days according to its type:-

  • Acute Tonsillitis:- Symptoms of Acute Tonsillitis last only 3 to 4 days. If the problem becomes severe, symptoms can last for more than 2 weeks.
  • Recurrent Tonsillitis:- This type of tonsillitis can bother the patient several times in a year and its symptoms can last for two weeks.
  • Chronic Tonsillitis: – Chronic tonsillitis occurs when a person is suffering from a tonsil infection for a long time.

What to eat and what not to eat when you have tonsillitis?

If you or your child is suffering from tonsillitis, then the first thing you have to keep in mind is that during this time it is very difficult to swallow anything due to swelling in the throat, so only such food should be taken which can be swallowed easily. May it also give strength to the body.

If you have tonsillitis, you should take the food mentioned below:-

  • Hot rice
  • Porridge
  • Semolina Upma
  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Boiled spinach
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Idli
  • Milk
  • Lukewarm water
  • Boiled egg or omelet

If you have tonsillitis, you should stay away from the food products mentioned below:-

  • Sour items – include vegetables, fruits, chutneys, and pickles.
  • Yogurt and buttermilk
  • Curry
  • All pickled vegetables and other foods
  • Fried foods
  • Meat – which has been prepared by roasting, with more oil, spicy.
  • All kinds of sauces
  • Caffeinated diet
  • All kinds of canned food
  • Frozen diet