Learn About Ailments | Tonsillitis


Swollen tonsils are caused by an infection of the tonsils and referred to as tonsillitis. Tonsils are the small lumps (known as nodes or glands) that can be found at the back of the throat (behind the tongue) and their function is believed to be to fight infections. Tonsillitis can be a viral or bacterial infection and is most common in children and teenagers. Tonsillitis typically clears up after a few days but the problem can last for many weeks.

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Symptoms of tonsillitis Diagnosis of tonsillitis
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The tonsils are glands (or lymph nodes) at the back of the throat and can be susceptible to infection. Swollen tonsils (tonsillitis) can be grouped into three types: acute, sub-acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis is commonly caused by viral infections but can be bacterial in origin. Viral infections from the flu, laryngitis and croup can lead to swollen tonsils. Acute tonsillitis can also be as a result of the Epstein-Barr virus (the same virus that causes glandular fever) and will be accompanied by swollen glands in other areas of the body.


Sub-acute tonsillitis and chronic tonsillitis are bacterial in origin and can be caused by various bacteria. The most common bacterial tonsillitis is from the group A streptococcus.

A sore throat is a common symptom of tonsillitis but the condition may also have these associated have symptoms:


  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Difficulty and pain when swallowing
  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Ear pain
  • Cough
  • White coloured pus on the tonsils
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck


Tonsillitis can also have other symptoms such as difficulty opening the mouth, nausea, bad breath and furry tongue.


Tonsillitis symptoms may vary if the condition is viral or bacterial. Viral infections from the flu or common cold will have accompanying symptoms such as a runny nose or aching muscles. Bacterial infection of the tonsils may be accompanied by a rash on the skin or the face may look flushed.

A visit to your GP will determine if you have tonsillitis. By performing an examination of your throat, tonsils and neck glands, the GP will diagnose if your swollen tonsils are caused by a viral or bacterial infection.


If a bacterial infection is suspected, the GP may take a swab from the tonsils which will be tested in a lab. Swab tests are usually for high-risk patients (those with poor immunity) or when previous treatment for tonsillitis has failed. Should a blood test be required, the GP will be looking to determine if glandular fever is the cause.

  • Sore throat

  • Swollen tonsil

  • Sore tonsils

  • Inflamed throat

  • Throat infection

  • Trismus

  • Quinsy

  • Virus

  • Bacteria

  • Streptococcus Group A

  • Strep Throat

  • High Temperature

  • Swollen Lymph Glands

  • Headaches

  • Loss Of Voice

  • Pencillin

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