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Tonsillitis (cont.)

Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

Tonsillitis is contagious. Tonsillitis is spread mainly by droplets from direct contact (kissing) or airborne droplets (cough).

Viral caused tonsillitis is often contagious for about 7–10 days while untreated bacterial caused disease may be contagious for about 2 weeks.

However, bacterial caused tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics and the patient usually is not contagious 24–48 hours after starting antibiotics.

When to Seek Medical Care

The majority of people that develop tonsillitis recover without medical care. Call a doctor for advice if you a person has some of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Social contact with a person with strep throat
  • Tender glands in the neck
  • Rash
  • Pain is not relieved with home care
  • Pain worsens
  • Unable to control secretions; unable to eat, drink, or take medicines
  • Change in voice, such as muffled speech or "hot potato" voice (speaking as if a hot object is being held in the mouth)
  • Difficulty breathing

Tonsillitis can develop into more serious medical conditions in some people. Anyone with tonsillitis who is drooling, unable to eat or drink, or has any breathing difficulty needs to go to a hospital's Emergency Department immediately for evaluation.

Sometimes the tonsils may swell or form a Abscess resulting in intermittent blockage of the feeding and breathing pathways. If the affected person may have difficulty breathing or eating, they should seek medical care.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Tonsillitis and Peritonsillar Abscess »

In the first century AD, Celsus described tonsillectomy performed with sharp tools and followed by rinses with vinegar and other medicinals.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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