Tonsilitis - Cause, Symptom, Treatment

The tonsil is a lymphoid tissue on both sides of the pharynx and is part of the body’s immune system. The main role of tonsil is to help the body fight infection. Tonsillitis (tonsitis) occurs when the tonsils are infected with bacteria or viruses.

Tonsillitis is common, especially in children. Occasionally, some children are infected and some are repeatedly infected.


Both viruses and bacteria can cause tonsillitis. The most common is group A streptococcus (GAS). Other common pathogens are:
• Adenovirus
• flu virus
• EB virus (infectious mononucleosis)
• Parainfluenza virus
• Enterovirus
• Herpes simplex virus, etc.
GAS pharyngitis is more common in children and adolescents over the age of 5 years, occurring in early spring and winter; streptococcal pharyngitis less than 3 years old is rare and mostly caused by viruses.

Swollen tonsils is the common symptom, sometimes with respiratory obstruction.
Other symptoms include:

• sore throat
• Throat congestion
• Yellow or white moss coating on the surface of the tonsils
• Throat sores or ulcers
• Headache
• Loss of appetite
• Earache
• Difficulty swallowing, mouth breathing
• Neck or submandibular lymph nodes
• fever chills
• Bad breath
• Rash
• nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain

The course of acute tonsillitis is 7-10 days. A few people may have repeated attacks with a long duration, which is chronic tonsillitis.
A few patients may have complications:

• Extreme enlargement of the tonsils causes airway obstruction.
• The tonsil infection spreads around and causes tonsil around the tonsils.
• A few untreated strep throats develop rheumatic fever.
Tonsillitis vs. streptococcal pharyngitis
Tonsillitis and streptococcal pharyngitis have similar symptoms, but not exactly the same. Streptococcal pharyngitis is pharyngeal inflammation caused by hemolytic streptococcus and can affect the tonsil. Tonsillitis can be caused by a variety of different pathogens, including several viruses or bacteria.
Physical examination
  • The tonsils and the surrounding tissues are congested, with or without secretions, with or without enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.
  • The tonsils were swollen on one side and protruded toward the midline, with an overhang of the uvula, with or without poor breathing,  including slurred speech, drooling, swallowing or mouth opening difficulties, difficulty breathing.

Laboratory inspection

  • Detect streptococci Pharyngeal throat swab
  • Swab culture
  • Blood testImaging examination if necessary



Group A hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis requires antibiotic treatment, including penicillin, amoxicillin.

Adjuvant treatment:

• Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce fever and reduce pain.
• Warm salt water gargle can relieve sore throat.
• Lozenges and throat sprays relieve throat discomfort.
• Ingest enough liquid to prevent dehydration.



The infectious period of viral tonsillitis is 7 to 10 days; the period of streptococcal pharyngitis infection without antibiotic treatment is two weeks. Streptococcal tonsillitis is not contagious after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment.

• Try to avoid exposing children to tonsillitis;
• The cups and cutlery used by the patient should be promptly cleaned and disinfected, and should not be touched by children;
• Family members wash their hands frequently to prevent cross-contamination.
* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.