Tonsillitis

Definition of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is inflammation (swelling) of the tonsils.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The tonsils are lymph nodes in the back of the mouth and top of the throat. They normally help to filter out bacteria and other germs to prevent infection in the body.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will look in the mouth and throat for swollen tonsils. The tonsils are usually red and may have white spots on them. The lymph nodes in the jaw and neck may be swollen and tender to the touch.

Treatment

If bacteria such as strep are causing the tonsillitis, antibiotics are given to cure the infection. The antibiotics may be given once as a shot, or taken for 10 days by mouth.

Expectations (prognosis)

Tonsillitis symptoms usually improve 2 or 3 days after treatment starts. The infection usually is cured after treatment is completed, but some people may need more than one course of antibiotics.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/12/2010

Lymphatic system
Throat anatomy

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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