Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils which are the glands at the back of the throat that are visible through the mouth.

The infection due to tonsillitis may also affect other areas such as the adenoids, the back of the throat and the tonsil tissue at the back of the tongue, which are called the lingual tonsils.

Types of Tonsillitis

There are different types of tonsillitis:

  • Acute tonsillitis
  • Chronic tonsillitis
  • Recurrent tonsillitis
  • Peritonsillar abscess

Causes of Tonsillitis

Both viral and bacterial infections can lead to tonsillitis. A very high percentage of children will experience at least one episode of tonsillitis as they grow up. Tonsillitis is much more common in children than it is in adults. It is commonly caused by the Streptococcus A species of bacteria and most commonly occurs in children between the ages of 5-15 years.

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Diagnosing Tonsillitis

Taking a patient’s history will help determine which type of tonsillitis is present. During the physical examination Dr Katzen will look inside your mouth and throat. The infected tonsils appear red and swollen with white patches.

Other tests performed to confirm the diagnosis of tonsillitis include:

  • Blood test – A complete blood count (CBC) may be requested to identify the cause of the infection.
  • Strep test – A sterile swab of the throat is taken and sent off to a pathology laboratory to check for strep throat, streptococcal bacteria.


The treatment of tonsillitis is usually a regimen of antibiotics. Dr Katzen may also need to drain the pus in the abscess to allow the antibiotics to work properly. This is done by lancing or cutting into the abscess to release the pus. This is performed by an ear, nose and throat surgeon such as Dr Katzen.

Keeping fluid intake up is very important as it helps to prevent dehydration.  Over the counter medications help relieve pain and fever.

When tonsillitis is chronic or keeps reoccurring, the removal of your tonsils may be needed.  This is a surgical procedure which is called a tonsillectomy. Recovery from tonsillitis can be painful. The blood vessels are typically cauterised or burnt to seal them to stop bleeding. We don’t use that method to seal the blood vessel. We use a product that is like a super glue which seals the blood vessel and lessens the pain in recovery. We have found this to be very successful.

Because medical and surgical treatments have improved over the years, complications due to tonsillitis are quite rare.

For less pain and long term recovery, call our Sydney surgery to book an appointment with Dr Katzen.