Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Swollen Tonsils Overview

Another name for Swollen Tonsils is Tonsillitis.

What is tonsillitis?
A person with tonsillitis has inflammation of the tonsils, caused by an infection by bacteria or viruses. The tonsils become swollen in response to the infection. Severe tonsillitis may result in a peritonsillar abscess. About 1 out of 10 children visit the doctor for tonsillitis each year in the US.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?
The most common symptoms of tonsillitis include a severe sore throat, throat redness, and swollen tonsils. Pus may be present on the surface of the tonsils. Additional symptoms of tonsillitis include difficulty swallowing, headache, fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

How does the doctor treat tonsillitis?
Treatment for tonsillitis may include rest, plenty of liquids, throat lozenges, antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever. Surgery may be required for those who have multiple episodes of tonsillitis.

Continue to Swollen Tonsils Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Swollen Tonsils References
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  2. Brook I. The role of bacterial interference in otitis, sinusitis and tonsillitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Jul;133(1):139-46. [16025067]
  3. Cohen R. Defining the optimum treatment regimen for azithromycin in acute tonsillopharyngitis. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2004 Feb;23(2 Suppl):S129-34. [14770076]
  4. Cooper RJ, Hoffman JR, Bartlett JG, Besser RE, Gonzales R, Hickner JM, Sande MA; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Centers for Disease Control. Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for acute pharyngitis in adults: background. Ann Intern Med. 2001 Mar 20;134(6):509-17. [11255530]
  5. Johnson BC, Alvi A. Cost-effective workup for tonsillitis. Testing, treatment, and potential complications. Postgrad Med. 2003 Mar;113(3):115-8, 121. [12647478]
  6. Richardson MA. Sore throat, tonsillitis, and adenoiditis. Med Clin North Am. 1999 Jan;83(1):75-83, viii. [9927961]
  7. Tewfik TL, Al Garni M. Tonsillopharyngitis: clinical highlights. J Otolaryngol. 2005 Jun;34 Suppl 1:S45-9. [16089240]
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