Symptoms of tonsillitis 

The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat.

Your tonsils will be red and swollen, and your throat may be very painful, making swallowing difficult.

In some cases, the tonsils are coated or have white, pus-filled spots on them.

Other common symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • high temperature (fever) over 38C (100.4F)
  • coughing
  • headache
  • earache
  • feeling sick
  • feeling tired
  • swollen, painful lymph glands in your neck
  • loss of voice or changes to your voice

The symptoms of tonsillitis usually get better after three to four days.

If you have tonsillitis that's caused by a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu, your symptoms may be milder.

If your tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, such as a streptococcal infection, your symptoms will usually be more severe and you may also have bad breath.

It's difficult to tell just by looking at a person's throat whether they have tonsillitis as a result of a virus or a bacterial infection. Tests are needed to confirm this.

Antibiotics may be recommended if test results show that your tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection.




Media last reviewed:

Next review due:

Page last reviewed: 29/12/2015

Next review due: 31/08/2018