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Acute Tonsillitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)


What is Chronic Tonsillitis?

Chronic tonsillitis is a persistent infection of the tonsils. Repeated infections may cause the formation of small pockets (crypts) in the tonsils which harbor bacteria.

Frequently, small, foul smelling stones are found within these crypts. These stones (tonsilloliths) may contain high quantities of sulfa.

When crushed, they give off the characteristic rotten egg smell which causes bad breath. They may also give a patient the sense of something being caught in the back of the throat

How common is Chronic Tonsillitis?

Chronic tonsillitis is more common in adolescents and adults. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Chronic Tonsillitis?

The common symptoms of Chronic Tonsillitis are:

  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Bad breath, which may be related to cryptic tonsils
  • Enlarged and tender neck lymph nodes

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Extensive swelling of the throat
  • A fever of over 30˚ c
  • Stiff neck
  • Muscle weakness
  • A sore throat that persists for longer than 2 days


What causes Chronic Tonsillitis?

As stated before, chronic tonsillitis is caused by an infection. Normally, the tonsils prevent bacteria and viruses from infecting the throat and lungs, but they may be overwhelmed. Infections may be either bacterial or viral, and include:

  • Streptococcus (strep)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Adenoviruses
  • Epstein-Barr
  • Herpes simplex
  • Enteroviruses

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Chronic Tonsillitis?

Major risk factors include immune deficiency and a family history of tonsillitis or atopy. Both infection with bacterium which are antibiotic resistant and altered immunologic function likely play a role in the development of chronic tonsillitis. You may also have an increased risk of developing chronic tonsillitis if you have been exposed to radiation.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Chronic Tonsillitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on a physical examination of your throat. Your doctor may also take a throat culture by gently swabbing the back of your throat. The culture will be sent to a laboratory to identify the cause of your throat infection.

How is Chronic Tonsillitis treated?

Initial treatment for recurrent or chronic tonsillitis includes ensuring adequate hydration and pain control. Managing pain for a sore throat will allow you to keep yourself hydrated.

If you have signs of dehydration, you should seek medical attention. For pain control, you can use over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or throat lozenges or sprays.

Regardless of what is causing your recurrent or chronic tonsillitis, your doctor may also recommend having your tonsils removed. This will likely be the case, if you are having five to seven episodes of tonsillitis in a year or you are having unresolved chronic tonsillitis.

Choosing to have a tonsillectomy can dramatically reduce the number of times you have a sore throat and need for antibiotics in a year. Improvement in quality of life has been identified as well, particularly if you your tonsillitis is affecting work or school attendance.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Chronic Tonsillitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Chronic Tonsillitis:

  • Resting enables the body to focus its energy on fighting the infection rather than using it on daily activities.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids will prevent the throat from drying out and becoming more uncomfortable. When the body is fighting an infection, it needs more hydration than normal. Warm, preferably caffeine-free drinks can also soothe.
  • Gargling with saltwater might help with discomfort.
  • Sucking throat lozenges may help, and these are readily available over the counter or online.
  • Using air humidifiers or sitting in a steamy bathroom can alleviate the irritation caused by dry air. Various humidifiers can be purchased online.
  • Avoiding irritants, such as tobacco and smoky locations.
  • Taking medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help with pain and fever.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

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