Tonsil Infection

Is it Infected?

Tonsil Infection: What is it? What does it look like?

Before discussing tonsil infection, let’s back up a bit. What is an infection?

A general definition of an infection is when another organism resides inside a person and gets its sustenance from that person. It colonizes that person and reproduces inside of them. This very general definition covers all sorts of germs or infectious agents- many of which cause no health problem. Most doctors and health professionals refine the definition to only include agents that harm the host as a true infection. These invaders, or pathogens may come in such forms as; parasites, fungus, bacteria, prions, or viroids.

Tonsil Infection: Bacterial or Viral?

With that said, there are several types of infections that can occur, in the tonsils or elsewhere in the body. When you suffer from tonsillitis, an inflammation of the throat and tonsil area causing sore throat, the first question is whether the tonsil infection is viral or bacterial.

Viral Tonsil Infection

This type of tonsillitis is caused by a virus. Viral tonsil infections usually go away on their own in a week or two. They are not treated with antibiotics.
tonsil infection

Bacterial Tonsil Infection

Bacterial infections like strep throat, (caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria), may not get better without treatment. They can also lead to more serious health risks like heart disease. Usually characterized by fever, chills, rash and spots on the tonsils, a bacterial tonsil infection should be treated with antibiotics. See your doctor!

For general relief of sore throat, salt water gargle can be helpful. Keeping the throat moist by drinking cold liquids and running a humidifier can also relieve symptoms. Over the counter pain medicines like acetaminophen are also helpful. Chronic or recurring tonsil infections may be indicative of an underlying health issue and should be evaluated by a health professional.

If you are considering or recovering from a tonsillectomy, find out tips for preparing and recovering at

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