Tonsils play an integral part in preventing infections in the body. The tonsils function as the first line of a defense system for the body. However, the tonsils swell and become sore quite often. 


The inflammation of the tonsils is known as tonsillitis. Here are 5 common factors that can cause the tonsils to become red and inflamed. 

5 Causes of Tonsillitis

  1. Viral infection

    There are various viruses in the air that can enter the body through the mouth. These viruses can infect the tonsils and cause inflammation. According to Pristyn Care ENT doctors, viral infections are the most common cause of tonsillitis. Some of the strains of the viruses that increases the risk of infection are-Common cold viruses
    Influenza virus
    Herpes simplex viruses
    Epstein- Barr virus
    Measles virus

    Viral infections that cause tonsillitis tend to cure on its own over time. For relief from the symptoms, the individual can try some home remedies as antibiotics won’t work.

  2. Strep throat

    Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus bacteria. More common in children than adults, strep throat occurs in the throat. Hence, the bacteria can easily attack the tonsils and cause inflammation. Therefore, the individual experiences bad breath, difficulty swallowing and sore throat as symptoms. Also, there can be white spots on the throat visible to the naked eye.

    Fortunately, once the patient is diagnosed with strep throat, doctors recommend antibiotics to fight off the infectious agents.

    Delaying the treatment of Strep throat should be avoided. In later stages, the infection can collect pus and lead to a peritonsillar abscess”, says Dr. Siddharth Vashisht, ENT Specialist at Pristyn Care. He added that peritonsillar abscess can make a person feel that something is stuck in the throat.

  3. Acid Reflux
    Owing to a poor diet, there can be reflux of stomach acid. The acid travels up and almost into the throat causing burning sensation and irritation. Furthermore, the irritation can also affect the tonsils and result in its inflammation. In such cases, here are two points to keep in mind-
    Avoid consuming acidic or spicy foods, caffeinated drinks and alcohol
    While sleeping at night, put some extra pillows under the head to prevent acid from backing up.
  4. Allergies

    There are several allergens such as dust and pollutants that enter the body through the mouth and nose. Once the body is able to identify that there is a foreign particle in the body, it sets off an allergic reaction. Due to this, the sinuses inflame and are unable to drain mucus properly. As there is an accumulation of mucus, the bacteria and viruses entering the body infect it. Eventually, this results in sinusitis. With time, the infection can spread over to the tonsils resulting in its infection.

  5. Certain STDs

    One of the symptoms of identifying certain Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as syphilis or gonorrhea is tonsillitis. In the early stages of syphilis, the infection can infect at the back of the throat and eventually the tonsils. Thus, look for symptoms of any STD that can be treated as soon as possible. To diagnose if a STD is responsible for swollen lymph nodes, the doctor performs a throat swab. 

What are the Risk Factors for Tonsillitis? 

Primarily, there are two factors that increase the risk of tonsillitis. First, being a child of the age group 5 to 15. The second factor is exposing yourself to germs that can cause bacterial or viral infections

Also, being in an infected person can also increase the chances of tonsillitis as it is contagious in nature. Thus, the patient with tonsillitis should wash hands regularly as well as keep their utensils, towels and clothes separately. 

How To Diagnose Tonsillitis?

The diagnosis of tonsillitis is a simple one. The doctor checks the symptoms and the medical history of the patient. Also, the doctor also looks for any spots on the throat and neck to confirm the type of infection. 


To check for strep throat, the ENT doctor recommends one or more tests. Some of these tests include a throat culture, rapid strep throat or both. 


In both these types of diagnostic tests, the doctor takes a cotton swab and collects a sample of fluids from the tonsils and the back of the throat. The rapid strep test takes only a couple of minutes to show the results. The throat culture is sent to a laboratory and takes a few days to get results. Out of these two, throat culture offers better results. 

How To Treat Tonsillitis Permanently?

The treatment of tonsillitis depends on the underlying condition causing it. If the contributor is a bacterial infection, then antibiotics may be effective. Otherwise, if it’s a virus then no medicine is effective in curing the same. 

Home Remedies for tonsillitis- There are a couple of home remedies that come in handy when a person is suffering from tonsillitis. Gargling with salt water, eating soft foods, taking plenty of rest, avoiding smoking irritants such as smoke, drinking cold drinks, etc. are some remedies that can provide instant relief. 

In severe cases, when tonsillitis keeps recurring leading to difficulty breathing or unable to swallow food, the patient should consider a tonsillectomy. It entails the surgical removal of tonsils. This is an outpatient procedure that means the patient can go back home on the same day. This is a permanent solution for people suffering from any type of tonsillitis. You can also consult with Pristyn Care ENT Specialists to know more about the same. Book an appointment today for permanent relief. 

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