Skip to main content
Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is when the tonsils at the back of your throat become swollen. It’s caused by an infection.

Symptoms of tonsillitis include red, swollen tonsils, a sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

You can ease tonsillitis with things like lozenges, throat sprays and painkillers. A GP may prescribe antibiotics if it's caused by bacteria.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of tonsillitis include red, swollen tonsils, a sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

Check if you have tonsillitis

Tonsillitis can feel like a bad cold or flu. The tonsils at the back of your throat will be red and swollen.

The main symptoms in children and adults are:

Sometimes the symptoms can be more severe and include:

Read more on the NHS website.

You can ease tonsillitis with things like lozenges, throat sprays and painkillers. A GP may prescribe antibiotics if it's caused by bacteria.

Self-care

Tonsillitis usually has to run its course.

To help ease the symptoms:

  • get plenty of rest
  • drink cool drinks to soothe the throat
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not give aspirin to children under 16)
  • gargle with warm salty water (children should not try this)

Medical treatments

Treatment will depend on what caused your tonsillitis:

  • a virus (viral tonsillitis), which most children and adults have – this type has to run its course and antibiotics will not help
  • bacteria (bacterial tonsillitis) – your GP may prescribe antibiotics

Usually your GP will have to wait for the test results to tell which type you have.

Important

It's very rare that someone needs to have their tonsils taken out.

This is usually only the case if you have severe tonsillitis that keeps coming back.

Read more on the NHS website.