Tonsillitis- Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

Tonsillitis is tonsil inflammation, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat — one tonsil on each side. Signs and signs of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils on the sides of the neck, sore throat, trouble swallowing and tender lymph nodes. Most tonsillitis cases are caused by infection with a specific virus but tonsillitis can also be caused by bacterial infections. Here we’ll discuss about the Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention of the Tonsillitis.

Since tonsillitis proper treatment depends on the cause, a prompt and correct diagnosis is necessary. Tonsil removal surgery, once a common procedure to treat tonsillitis, normally only takes place when bacterial tonsillitis occurs regularly, does not respond to other treatments or causes severe complications

Tonsillitis Symptoms

Tonsillitis affects children most commonly between preschool ages and mid-teen years. Common tonsillitis signs and symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Fever
  • Huge, tender glands  in the neck
  • A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
  • Poor breath
  • Stomachache, especially  in younger kids
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache

Signs of tonsillitis in young children who are not able to describe how they feel can include:

  • Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Unusual fussiness

When to see a doctor

If your child has signs that that suggest tonsillitis it is vital to get an accurate diagnosis.

Contact your doctor if your child has:

  • A sore throat which does not go away in 1 to 2 days
  • Trouble or painful swallowing
  • Too much weakness, fatigue or fussiness

Get urgent attention if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Breathing problems
  • Extreme painful swallowing
  • Drooling


Tonsillitis is mainly caused by viruses, but may also because of bacterial infections.

Streptococcus pyogenes is the most common bacterium that causing tonsillitis; the bacterium that causes strep throat. Other strain of strep and other bacteria may also be causing tonsillitis.

Why do tonsils get infected?

The tonsils are the immune system’s first line of protection against bacteria and viruses which enters in your mouth.  This function can make the tonsils particularly weak to infection and inflammation. Nevertheless, the function of the tonsil’s immune system decreases after puberty — a factor that could account for the prevalence of adult tonsillitis cases.

Risk factors

Tonsillitis risk factors include:

Young age: Tonsillitis occurs mostly in infants but rarely in those younger than 2 years of age.  Tonsillitis caused by bacterial is more common in children aged 5 to 15 while viral tonsillitis is more common in younger children.

Frequent exposure to germs: Children of school age are in close contact with their peers and are often exposed to viruses or bacteria which can cause tonsillitis.


Inflammation or swelling of the tonsils from frequent or ongoing (chronic) tonsillitis can cause complications such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disrupted breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Infection that spreads deep into surrounding tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)
  • Infection that results in a collection of pus behind the tonsil (peritonsillar abscess)

Strep infection

If tonsillitis caused by a group is not treated a streptococcus or another strain of streptococcal bacteria, or if antibiotic treatment is incomplete, your child has an increased risk of rare disorders like:

  • Rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disorder that affects the heart, joints and other tissues
  • Post streptococcal glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disorder of the kidneys leading to insufficient elimination of waste and excess fluid from the blood


The germs which cause tonsillitis in the virus and bacteria are contagious. Practice proper hygiene thus is the best protection. Teach your child to:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly, particularly before eating and after using the toilet
  • Do not share the food, drinking glass, water bottles or utensils with other
  • Replace the toothbrush after tonsillitis is diagnosed

To help your child avoid bacterial or viral infection from spreading to others:

  • Stop your children from going out when they are sick
  • Ask your doctor whether it is safe for your child to go back to school
  • Teach your children that it is necessary to use the elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezing
  • Teach your child to wash hands after sneezing or coughing     

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