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Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. Your tonsils are two lymph nodes which are located at the back of the throat. They function in immunity, to protect the body from infections. When the tonsils become infected by certain viruses and bacteria, this leads to the development of tonsillitis.

The most common cause of tonsillitis is by a strain of bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes.

Risk factors

  • From ages 2-5 viral tonsillitis is common
  • From ages 5-15 bacterial tonsillitis is common
  • Frequent exposure to bacteria and viruses that cause tonsillitis.


  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Pain at the back of the throat
  • Pain on swallowing
  • Pain that radiates to the ear when swallowing
  • Pain on opening the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Scratched voice
  • Headaches


Tonsillitis is treated with antibiotics when it is caused by bacterial infection. Other measures to improve symptoms include:

  • Pain relief with pain medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Bland liquid diet
  • Ice packs applied over the area with the pain
  • Oral and dental hygiene, such as brushing one’s teeth regularly

In cases of recurrent attacks of tonsillitis or when there are other symptoms beyond the immediate surroundings of the mouth, surgical removal of the tonsils (called a tonsillectomy) is considered. Tonsillectomy is also considered when the enlarged tonsils cause obstruction to the mouth or airway.

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