Tonsillitis is inflammation (swelling) of the tonsils.
Strep throat causes tonsil swelling.
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.
A bacterial or viral infection can cause tonsillitis. Strep throat is a common cause.
The infection may also be seen in other parts of the throat. One such infection is called pharyngitis.
Tonsillitis is very common, especially in children.
The health care provider will look in the mouth and throat.
A rapid strep test can be done in most doctor's offices. However, this test may be normal, and you can still have strep. Your doctor may send the throat swab to a laboratory for a strep culture. Test results can take a few days.
Swollen tonsils that are not painful or do not cause other problems do not need to be treated. Your health care provider may not give you antibiotics. You may be asked to come back for a check up later.
If tests show you do have strep, your doctor will give you antibiotics. It is important to finish all of your antibiotics as directed by your doctor, even if you feel better. If you do not take them all, the infection can return.
The following tips may help your throat feel better:
Some people who have repeated infections may need surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy).
Tonsillitis symptoms due to strep usually get better about 2 or 3 days after you start the antibiotics.
Children with strep throat should generally be kept home from school or day care until they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours. This helps reduce the spread of illness.
Call your health care provider if there is:
Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM,Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 375.
Del Mar CB, Glasziou PP, Spinks A. Antibiotics for sore throat. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008:(3):CD000023.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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