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Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils which are made of soft glandular tissues at the back of the mouth to trap bacteria and viruses that one breathes in.


  • Bacteria
  • Viruses


  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling tired
  • Painful swallowing
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Pus may appear as white spots on the enlarged tonsils

Symptoms typically get worse over 2-3 days and then gradually subside, usually within a week.


  • Not treating is an option as many tonsil infections are mild and get better soon.
  • Have plenty of liquids to drink. It is tempting not to drink very much if it is painful to swallow. You may become mildly dehydrated if you don't drink much, particularly if you also have a fever. Mild dehydration can make headaches and tiredness much worse.
  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen eases pain, headache, and fever. To keep symptoms to a minimum it is best to take a dose at regular intervals as recommended on the packet of medication rather than 'now and then'. For example, take paracetamol four times a day until symptoms ease.
  • Aspirin gargles may ease the soreness. (There is little research evidence to confirm that this is effective. However, it is a popular treatment and may be worth a try.) Dissolve some soluble aspirin in water and gargle for 3-4 minutes. You can do this 3-4 times a day. Spit out the aspirin after gargling. (You should not give aspirin to children under 16.)
  • Removing the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be an option if you have frequent and severe bouts of tonsillitis. That is, five or more infections over a year. Also, when each infection is severe enough to affect normal life (such as needing time off work or school). Throat infections are not prevented if the tonsils are removed. However, for some people, the number and severity of throat infections may be reduced after tonsillectomy.