maxresdefaultTonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat — one tonsil on each side. Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck.

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by infection with a common virus, but bacterial infections also may cause tonsillitis.Because appropriate treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause, it’s important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. Surgery to remove tonsils, once a common procedure to treat tonsillitis, is usually performed only when tonsillitis occurs frequently, doesn’t respond to other treatments or causes serious complications.


Tonsillitis is most often caused by common viruses, but bacterial infections can also be the cause.

The most common bacterium causing tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus), the bacterium that causes strep throat. Other strains of strep and other bacteria also may cause tonsillitis.

Why do tonsils get infected?

The tonsils are the immune system’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses that enter your mouth. This function may make the tonsils particularly vulnerable to infection and inflammation. However, the tonsil’s immune system function declines after puberty — a factor that may account for the rare cases of tonsillitis in adults.

Risk factors

Risk factors for tonsillitis include:

Young age. Tonsillitis is most common from the preschool years to the mid-teenage years.
Frequent exposure to germs. School-age children are in close contact with their peers and frequently exposed to viruses or bacteria that can cause tonsillitis.


Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and the mid-teenage years. Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

Red, swollen tonsils
White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
Sore throat
Difficult or painful swallowing
Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
Bad breath
Stomachache, particularly in younger children
Stiff neck
In young children who are unable to describe how they feel, signs of tonsillitis may include:

Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
Refusal to eat
Unusual fussiness
When to see a doctor

It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis if your child has symptoms that may indicate tonsillitis.


The germs that cause viral and bacterial tonsillitis are contagious. Therefore, the best prevention is to practice good hygiene. Teach your child to:

Wash his or her hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet and before eating
Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses or utensils
To help your child prevent the spread of a bacterial or viral infection to others:

Keep your child at home when he or she is ill
Ask your doctor when it’s all right for your child to return to school
Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, when necessary, into his or her elbow
Teach your child to wash his or her hands after sneezing or coughing Source

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