The symptoms of tonsillitis are:

  • Inflammation and swelling of the tonsils, sometimes severe enough to block the airways
  • Throat pain or tenderness
  • Redness of the tonsils
  • A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • Painful blisters or ulcers on the throat
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing through the mouth
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw area
  • Fever, chills
  • Mouth breathing, noisy breathing, and/or snoring (due to enlarged tonsils blocking the airways)
Tests to diagnose: 

Diagnosis is based on a physical examination of the throat.


Treatment of viral tonsillitis primarily involves rest, recovery and symptom relief. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids and have regular meals (soft foods and smoothies are best).

Gargling salt water (half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water) may provide some relief.

Treatments for more severe cases of tonsillitis may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone or prednisone may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling, particularly when it is making swallowing and breathing difficult.
  • Tonsillectomy: Surgery to remove the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy

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