Tonsillitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Surgery and Diagnosis

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat. The tonsils help to trap and fight infection, but they can sometimes become infected themselves.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

The most common symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue

Causes of tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection, such as Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep). Viral infections, such as the common cold and the flu, can also cause tonsillitis.

Treatment for tonsillitis

Treatment for tonsillitis depends on the underlying cause. Bacterial infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, but they can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Surgery for tonsillitis

Surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) is sometimes recommended for people with recurrent tonsillitis, especially if the infections are severe or difficult to treat with antibiotics.

Diagnosis of tonsillitis

A doctor can usually diagnose tonsillitis by examining the throat and asking about the patient’s symptoms. In some cases, a throat swab may be taken to test for strep throat.

How to prevent tonsillitis

There are a few things you can do to help prevent tonsillitis:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid smoking.

If you have any concerns about tonsillitis, please talk to your doctor.