Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils, which are two small lymphoid tissues located at the back of the throat, one on each side. The primary function of the tonsils is to help fight infections by trapping bacteria and viruses that enter through the mouth and nose. Tonsillitis is most common in children, but it can affect individuals of any age. Here are key points about tonsillitis:


  • Tonsillitis is often caused by viral infections, with the most common culprit being the same virus responsible for the majority of colds—the rhinovirus.
  • Bacterial infections, particularly by Streptococcus bacteria (Strep throat), can also lead to tonsillitis.
  • Other viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus (associated with infectious mononucleosis or mono) and the influenza virus, can cause tonsillitis.


  • Sore throat is a common symptom, often accompanied by pain or discomfort when swallowing.
  • Swollen and red tonsils.
  • White or yellow patches or pus on the tonsils.
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Earache.


  • Tonsillitis is typically diagnosed based on symptoms, a physical examination of the throat, and sometimes a throat culture or rapid strep test to identify the specific cause.


  • Viral tonsillitis is often managed with supportive care, including rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to alleviate symptoms.
  • Bacterial tonsillitis, especially if caused by Streptococcus, may be treated with a course of antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  • In some cases, particularly if a person experiences recurrent or severe tonsillitis, surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be considered.

Home Care:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Get adequate rest to support the body’s immune response.
  • Use throat lozenges or warm saltwater gargle to soothe a sore throat.
  • Avoid irritants, such as smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.


  • In rare cases, untreated bacterial tonsillitis, particularly if caused by Streptococcus, can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis).