What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis refers to the inflammation of a tonsil – the large, fleshy, oval masses of tissue that lie in the lateral wall of the oral pharynx on either side of the throat. These clusters of tissue contain cells that produce antibodies that are helpful in fighting infection.


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


Each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Symptoms may include:

  • swollen, red tonsils (often coated with a yellow, gray, or white membrane)
  • blisters or painful ulcerated areas on the throat
  • sudden onset sore throat
  • pain with swallowing
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • malaise
  • chills
  • fever
  • swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck or jaw area

Additional symptoms of tonsillitis in children include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain.