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Tonsilitis 101

Posted on May 30, 2015 | Author and Reviewed by: Dan Lois B. Villanueva. RPh

As children, one of the most common complaints we had was a sore throat. This excused us from a day of school and gave us a day of rest. But then you feel something hard just near your throat that makes it very painful to swallow. Wait… this is not normal! You complain to your mother, knowing that what you have is no ordinary sore throat. She gives you medicine for cough and cold and tells you not to worry. It is just tonsillitis.

What is tonsillitis? Does it have something to do with those hard things near your throat? Let us find out!

tonsillitis viral bacterial


Your tonsils are a pair of tissue masses located at the back of your throat. Their purpose is to stop any infection that enters your body via your nose and mouth from getting to the rest of your body. But there are times when an infection can be too much to handle and the tonsils do become infected which leads to their swelling. This condition is now called tonsillitis. Although it affects any age group, children are more prone to getting this infection.


Tonsilitis can be caused by any number of bacteria or viruses. One of the most common causes of tonsillitis is the same bacteria that cause strep throat, which is Streptococcus pyogenes. Other viruses that can cause tonsillitis are adenovirus and rhinovirus, while when it comes to bacteria,  Chlamydia pneumonia and Bordetella pertussis may also cause the infection.


The symptoms of tonsillitis are very easy to spot. But do note not all of the symptoms may show up on the patients. The symptoms are:

  • Painful or difficulty swallowing
  • The back of the throat is red (or sore throat)
  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Irritability
  • Ear ache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Foul smelling breath
  • Throaty or muffled voice
  • Tonsils with white spots
  • Tonsils that are very swollen




Mild cases of tonsillitis can be taken care of at home. The patient will be required to rake antibiotics to combat the infection and medicine for fever to combat the fever. Hydration and rest are the keys to getting better. The patient can also gargle a solution of warm water with salt three to five times a day. Throat lozenges are also recommended although do remember that they must not be given to very young children as they may be a choking hazard.

The last resort will be a tonsillectomy or the removal of the tonsils. This will only be recommended for severe cases such as tonsillitis causes infection, numerous cases of tonsillitis in a year, breathing difficulty, or tonsillitis that isn’t reacting to treatment. It is done in 30-45 minutes and the patient can go home in 4 hours. Recovery time can be 10-14 days.


Remember that tonsillitis is a highly contagious illness. Even sharing the same cup may lead to an infection. To lessen your chances of being infected, do not share food,  utensils or cutlery with people who are sick as this may lead to you getting infected as well. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands (especially after contact with someone sick or coming from the restroom) and bringing a small bottle of alcohol with you at all times. If you are the patient, do the rest of the world a favor by staying at home and getting well to avoid the spread of infection.

For any kid, being sick is no joke. Always take good care of your health and try to stay home when you are sick. Remember, health is wealth!