Tonsillitis Q&A

An otolaryngologist with more than 25 years of experience, Angelo Consiglio, MD, began his career in the Chicago area and currently treats patients from Key West, Florida, and surrounding communities at his solo practice in Marathon, Florida. There, Dr. Angelo Consiglio frequently treats tonsillitis and answers patient questions like those below.

What is tonsillitis and what are the symptoms?

A common condition in children, tonsillitis is an inflammation of the two masses of tissue at the back of the throat, which are known as tonsils. The function of the tonsils is to trap germs and produce antibodies against infections, but as the body’s initial defender against germs, they sometimes experience infection themselves. Symptoms of tonsillitis include throat pain, swelling and redness of the tonsils, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, difficulty swallowing, and bad breath, among others.

What causes tonsillitis?

A number of viral and bacterial infections can cause tonsillitis, including streptococcus, adenoviruses, and the influenza virus.

How is tonsillitis treated?

A throat swab culture can determine the cause of tonsillitis. If it is bacterial in nature, the physician will prescribe antibiotics, and the symptoms should begin to dissipate in about three days. If the tonsillitis is caused by a virus, the patient can only treat symptoms and must wait it out as the body’s immune system fights the infection. Rest, fluids, pain relievers, and gargling with salt water can help ease symptoms. Surgical removal of the tonsils is only considered if tonsillitis occurs regularly or if the tonsils begin to obstruct swallowing or breathing.