Tonsillitis refers to infection of the palatine tonsils in the back of the mouth. It can be debilitating for children and adults as most patients with tonsillitis will need time off school or work until they recover. This is often how you can differentiate between true tonsillitis and a viral cold or sore throat which does not need antibiotics and usually does not require time off school or work.


Patients with tonsillitis feel very unwell. They usually with high fevers, a sore throat and pain associated with eating and drinking. They may also experience referred pain to the ears. The tonsils will often swell up and may have white spots on them (pus). Sometimes they enlarge and can cause snoring at night. Patients may also develop tonsilloliths (tonsil stones) which can cause bad breath.


Your GP will usually make the diagnosis and may start treatment with antibiotics. It is a good idea for you to record the frequency of the episodes of tonsillitis that you or your child are suffering from. This gives some idea as to the benefit of tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils) or whether watchful waiting is still appropriate.


The treatment for recurrent bacterial tonsillitis is initially with antibiotics, fluids and painkillers. When the infections become very frequent, or you or your child has suffered complications of tonsillitis, then tonsillectomy may be indicated. Dr Levin will be able to discuss the treatment options with you and advise whether you are a good candidate for tonsillectomy or whether conservative management is still appropriate.

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