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Tonsillitis Quick Overview

Patient Comments
  • Tonsillitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of the tonsils. It is most often an acute condition, although some individuals may suffer from chronic and recurring tonsillitis.
  • Tonsillitis frequently affects children and teens, although adults of any age can acquire it.
  • Tonsillitis is caused by an infection of the tonsils; the infectious agents are most often viral in origin, although bacterial tonsillitis is also frequently diagnosed (strep throat, for example).
  • Symptoms of tonsillitis commonly include
  • The tonsils may appear red and swollen.
  • Tonsillitis is diagnosed by having a health-care professional perform a physical examination of the patient's throat, and sometimes a throat swab may be obtained.
  • Tonsillitis is treated with pain relievers and watchful waiting, although individuals with bacterial tonsillitis may need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • Surgical procedures such as tonsillectomy may be required for chronic or severe tonsil infections.
  • Tonsillitis is cured when the signs and symptoms of tonsillitis have resolved, although recurrence is possible.
  • Prevention of tonsillitis is possible by avoiding people with strep throat or upper respiratory tract infections, and frequent hand washing to prevent the transmission of infection.
  • The prognosis for acute tonsillitis is generally good. The vast majority of individuals with tonsillitis have a full recovery without any long-term problems. However, complications can sometimes occur, especially with cases of bacterial tonsillitis.
  • The prognosis for chronic tonsillitis depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Some people may need to have their tonsils removed surgically.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/30/2015
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tonsillitis:

Tonsillitis - Treatment

What was the treatment for your tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis In Adults - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis - Experience

Please share your experience with acute or chronic tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis - Home Remedies

What home remedies help soothe your tonsillitis symptoms?

When is tonsillectomy necessary?

While doctors may still debate the necessity for tonsillectomy and its effectiveness as a treatment, there are certain circumstances for which the tonsillectomy is definitely recommended, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • An abscess around the tonsils (peritonsillar abscess)
  • Tonsil infection that results in febrile seizures
  • Any suspicion of cancer (very rare) in the area or another need for a biopsy to establish a diagnosis

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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