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Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Tonsillitis

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sunil Aggarwal 91% (28 ratings)
MBBS, MS - ENT, DNB
ENT Specialist, Gurgaon  •  19 years experience
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Tonsillitis

Tonsils are the two oval-shaped tissue pads at the back of your throat, which function as a mechanism to protect you from diseases. Any infection of the tonsils is referred to as ‘tonsillitis’.

You can suffer from tonsillitis at any age, but it is more commonly diagnosed in children. Tonsillitis is highly contagious.

There are two types of tonsillitis:

  1. Chronic tonsillitis— Longer episodes of acute tonsillitis
  2. Recurrent tonsillitis— Recurrent episodes of tonsillitis in a year

Causes

Tonsillitis can cause viral and bacterial infections. The ‘Streptococcus (strep) bacteria’ is a common cause. Some other causes include:

  1. Adenoviruses
  2. Influenza virus
  3. Epstein-Barr virus
  4. Parainfluenza virus
  5. Enteroviruses
  6. Herpes simplex virus

Symptoms

Since tonsillitis has various causes, symptoms too tend to differ. Some symptoms include:

  1. An extremely sore throat
  2. Painful or difficult swallowing
  3. Scratchy-sounding voice
  4. Bad breath
  5. Fever
  6. Chills
  7. Earaches
  8. Stomach aches
  9. Headaches
  10. Stiff neck
  11. Neck and jaw tenderness due to inflamed lymph nodes
  12. Tonsils that become swollen and red in colour
  13. Yellow or white spots on the tonsils

In children, symptoms such as excessive drooling, increased irritability or poor appetite are usually noticeable.

Treatment

If the tonsillitis is mild, especially caused by a virus, it usually doesn’t require any treatment. More critical cases of tonsillitis might require treatments such as tonsillectomy (a surgical process used to remove the tonsils) or administration of antibiotics.

Penicillin is the most commonly administered antibiotic. Once commonly performed, tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) is now reserved for extremely critical cases. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult an ent-specialist.

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