Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils located in the back of the mouth in the oropharynx. Tonsils are part of the body's natural immune system. This tissue captures bacteria and viruses to either prevent them from entering the body or trigger the appropriate immune response. The back of the throat may appear red or swollen or have a white or yellow coating covering the tonsils. The adenoids (tissue behind the nose and soft palate) may also be inflamed and swollen, impeding breathing. Symptoms for acute tonsillitis include a moderate to severe sore throat, painful or difficult swallowing, coughing, fever, chills and swelling of the neck lymph nodes. Symptoms of chronic tonsillitis may include bad breath, tonsil stones, pain on swallowing but usually do not result in fever. Common causes for tonsillitis are bacterial or viral infections.
Strep throat is caused by streptococcal bacteria (strep) infection causing tonsillitis. Symptoms may include moderate to severe sore throat, painful swallowing, a fever, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, and white or yellow spots on a reddened back of the throat. Strep throat is highly contagious, with a two-to-five day incubation period. It can be diagnosed through a physical examination and a throat culture. Strep throat is treated with antibiotics and usually resolves in three to seven days, although the healing time can be up to two weeks. It is important to have strep throat diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible in order to prevent its spread to others. Tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) may be required for chronic or frequent episodes of tonsillitis.