Tonsillitis caused by a virus typically lasts 4 to 10 days. A bacterial infection lasts slightly longer. If symptoms include sore throat, fever above 101°F (38.3°C), and swollen lymph nodes, the infection might be caused by strep bacteria. Reference Strep throat Opens New Window, which must be diagnosed by a doctor, requires antibiotic treatment.
In some cases, tonsillitis can become chronic. Surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be recommended for you or your child based on past health and results of physical exams.
Complications of tonsillitis
Tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria that is not treated with antibiotics may result in Reference complications, such as ear and sinus infections or pockets of infection outside the tonsils (Reference peritonsillar abscess Opens New Window). More serious complications, such as Reference rheumatic fever Opens New Window, may also occur.
Recurrent and ongoing (chronic) tonsillitis may obstruct the upper airway and cause problems, such as snoring, nasal congestion, and mouth breathing. Sometimes chronic tonsillitis can lead to more severe conditions, including Reference obstructive sleep apnea Opens New Window and heart and lung problems. But most children who have sleep apnea and enlarged tonsils do not have a history of tonsillitis.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference December 8, 2010|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology