Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that is either caused by viruses or bacteria. As the tonsils swell, it hurts when you swallow and sometimes the lymph nodes of the throat can become enlarged and sore. Fever is also common. Usually, no treatment is needed, but sometimes antibiotics can be needed to recover.


Tonsillitis is most common in children, but everyone can suffer. In the case of recurrent problems, tonsillectomy (surgery to remove the tonsils) may be recommended. APPOTEK can help you with tonsillitis.


Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat — one tonsil on each side. They are part of the body’s immune system that protects us against infections. If you have tonsillitis, they become infected and swell – therefore you can feel like your throat is tight.


Tonsillitis is caused by either viruses or bacteria, but viruses are the most common. You become infected through direct contact with someone who is ill, air drops or infected objects. Sometimes there may be bacteria left on a toothbrush or someone in the family may carry the infection without showing any symptoms. 


You’re typically contagious one to two days before symptoms develop and may remain contagious until your symptoms go away. If you or your child is diagnosed with bacterial tonsillitis, you’re usually not contagious when your fever is gone and you have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.


Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck. You may also have fever, chills, earaches and headaches. 


Infants often show signs of tonsillitis by not wanting to eat or drink and being tired. Tonsillitis in children is usually caused by viruses.


If you do not get better after a week, pay attention to whether you have difficulty swallowing or breathing, as these symptoms may be the signs of quinsy.  Quinsy, or peritonsillar abscess, is an accumulation of pus in the tonsils that occurs due to infection. Peritonsillar abscess can be very painful. 


Glandular fever can cause similar symptoms, like sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. Children with tonsillitis may also have scarlet fever that is characterized by sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash.

Prevention and protection

If you have tonsillitis, it is important to rest and drink a lot. If it is painful to swallow, you can choose a liquid diet while you are sick. Sometimes it may feel better to eat cool foods like ice cream or yogurt. Pharmacies sell throat lozenges that can relieve sore throat. You can also use ibuprofen to reduce pain.


Tonsillitis is contagious, so it is important to wash your hands frequently and, if possible, to avoid close contact with others during your illness. To avoid passing on infection:


  • wash your hands frequently – do not share a towel 
  • do not share food and drink 
  • change your toothbrush regularly – bacteria may remain on the toothbrush and cause you to become ill again
  • wash toys and other things your baby puts in their mouth
  • stay home an extra day, even if you have no fever.


Tonsillitis usually doesn’t require treatment. But if symptoms don’t improve within a week, you may need antibiotics. If tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. Penicillin taken by mouth for 10 days is the most common antibiotic treatment prescribed for tonsillitis caused by group A streptococcus.


In the case of recurrent problems, tonsillectomy (surgery to remove the tonsils) may be recommended.

When to consult a doctor

In most cases, symptoms will resolve within a few days of home care, such as rest, drinking warm liquids, or sucking on throat lozenges.


You may need to see a doctor, however, if:


  • symptoms last longer than four days and show no signs of improvement or have gotten worse
  • you have severe symptoms, such as a fever over (39.2°C) or difficulty breathing or drinking
  • intense pain that won’t subside
  • you have had several cases of tonsillitis or strep throat in the past year

How APPOTEK can help

APPOTEK can help you with tonsillitis. A doctor or nurse will make an initial diagnosis during the video consultation. They can also give prescriptions or refer you for further examination, if needed.


Vadym Diadiun, Doctor of Medicine, M.D.