Although tonsillitis is never a major health concern, it can cause much discomfort and unpleasantness. Tonsillitis, which is a collection of lymphoid tissues, sits at the back of the throat and makes its presence occasionally felt by making people feel uncomfortable. It takes about 7-10 days for most people to recover from the condition either on its own or with medication. The tonsillitis keeps us healthy by acting as a filter to trap germs that could otherwise find its way to the airways and cause infection.  Children are most vulnerable to tonsillitis, and it can recur frequently.  The normal manifestation happens in the form of acute tonsillitis that normally lasts for 3-4 days and can stay up to 2 weeks. In other cases, tonsillitis that recurs many times a year is known as Recurrent Tonsillitis, and long-term infection is chronic tonsillitis.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

Inflamed and swollen tonsils are the main symptoms of tonsillitis, and it can sometimes be so severe that it causes difficulty in breathing. The other symptoms are red tonsils, throat tenderness or pain, tonsils covered with a white or yellow coating as well as headache, ear pain, loss of appetite, throat ulcers, and difficulty in swallowing. Sometimes fever and chills tell you about tonsillitis, and the voice might become muffled or scratchy. Other symptoms include stiff neck, bad breath, and swollen glands in your neck or jaw.


An ENT specialist at can help you in diagnosing the disease by recommending a throat swab that consists of testing the saliva and cells from your throat for strep bacteria. The doctor collects the sample by inserting a cotton swab in your throat, which though uncomfortable, will not hurt. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get the result, but if the doctor recommends a lab test, it will take a few days.  The doctor might also ask to do a blood test for Complete Blood Count (CBC) to detect a bacteria or virus that could be the cause for tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis treatment

 For relieving pain and other symptoms of tonsillitis, people can use over the counter (OTC) medicines that suppress it, but to treat a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.  However, antibiotics do not work if there is a viral infection. Penicillin is the most common antibiotic, and patients must take the full course of the medicine even if the symptoms subside. Discontinuing the antibiotics midway will make the infection recur.

Surgery is the other treatment option that doctors used to recommend regularly earlier. If the tonsils are causing secondary issues, chances of which are quite less, doctors may recommend its removal by using various methods like radio waves, lasers, cold temperatures, ultrasonic energy, or a heated needle. However, the doctor will recommend surgery only after trying out all options of treatment and when convinced that none of it is effective.

Since tonsillitis affects children the most and subsides with age and does not have any long-term implications in most cases, a wait and watch policy often helps to overcome the difficult phase.

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