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Tonsillitis (cont.)

How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

Your health-care professional will conduct a physical examination, with special attention to the throat and neck area. Tonsillitis caused by viruses may look very similar to bacterial tonsillitis, therefore diagnostic testing (for example, throat culture, rapid strep test) may be required to differentiate between the two potential causes.

Your health-care professional will pay special attention to the following findings:

  • Signs of throat infection (redness, swelling, tonsillar exudate, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck)
  • Peritonsillar abscess formation (bulging of one tonsil toward the center with deviation of the uvula)
  • Airway compromise (muffled speech, drooling, inability to swallow or open mouth, difficulty breathing)

Your health-care professional also may order a rapid strep test, which requires a swab from the back of the throat area. Results of the rapid strep test are generally available within 30 minutes. Sometimes a strep culture is sent to the lab for confirmation of strep infection, though this result may require 24-48 hours. In rare instances of severe or complicated tonsillitis, blood tests and/or imaging tests may be ordered. Furthermore, if other conditions that cause a sore throat are suspected, additional testing may be necessary.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/30/2015
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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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