What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsil, which is the two oval masses of tissue located at the back of your throat. Tonsillitis is a common condition that occurs more prevalent in children and young adults.

Normal tonsils without inflammation

Normal Tonsils

Inflamed tonsils

Inflamed Tonsils

What are the causes?

Tonsillitis is usually caused by viral infection or less commonly, bacterial infection. The tonsils are part of the body’s immune system and is the first line of defense against pathogens that are inhaled or ingested. When the tonsils are overwhelmed by viruses or bacterial, it can become swollen and inflamed.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Red tonsils
  • White and yellow coating on your tonsils
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ear pain
  • Scratchy and muffled voice

In children, symptoms may include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Drooling
tonsillitis symptoms fever
Tonsillitis symptoms Sore throat
red tonsils
Tonsillitis symptoms - Bad breath

What are the complications?

Inflammation and swelling of the tonsils from recurring tonsillitis can cause complications such as:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Infection that spread to the surrounding tissue that results in peritonsillar abscess (collection of pus in the throat tissue)

How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

Physical examination

During examination, the specialist will look into your throat and ears to check for infections.

Naso-endoscopy examination

The specialist will perform a scope through the nasal cavity to check the back of the throat.

What are the treatments?


A doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the tonsillitis is caused by bacteria. If the inflammation is caused by virus, antibiotics will not help. The body will need to fight the infection on its own.


Tonsillectomy- surgery to remove tonsil Tonsillectomy is a surgery that removes the tonsils. A surgery may be required to treat frequent recurring tonsillitis that does not respond to medication or antibiotic treatment. Frequent tonsillitis can be classified as:

  • At least five times in a year
  • At least three times in a year for the past two years
  • At least two times in a year for the past three years

Discuss your options with our ENT specialist to decide on the best treatment for you.

How can I treat tonsillitis at home?

Symptoms of tonsillitis can be alleviated by the following home remedies:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help with throat pain
  • Get enough rest
  • Gargle with warm salt water
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen

Make An Appointment

Make an appointment or contact the ENT clinic to consult an ENT Specialist about your condition. To make an appointment, select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "Ear, Nose & Throat".

Make an enquiry. We will get back to you within 3 working days. You can reach us at 6311 ​​1229.

References - How do the tonsils work? (Link) - Tonsillitis: Symptoms, causes, treatments, surgery, and remedies (Link) - Tonsillitis symptoms and treatments. Illnesses & conditions (Link) - Tonsillitis (Link)

Contact Raffles Ear, Nose & Throat Centre

Make an enquiry if you require more information.

Our staff will get back to you within 2 working days.