The Most Common Types of Tonsil Infection

The tonsils are two lymph nodes located at the back of the throat, and they serve as the first defence against infection. Their purpose is to prevent infection from travelling further into the body, but the tonsils themselves can become infected in the process.

When tonsils become infected the condition is referred to as tonsillitis, which could become serious if left untreated.


Tonsillitis is most common in children beginning in the preschool age up into the teens. The two types of tonsil infection are recurrent tonsillitis that is described as multiple events of acute infection throughout the year. Chronic tonsillitis episodes last longer than the recurrent type, and are characterised by ongoing sore throat, tender lymph nodes and bad breath.

There is a list of other symptoms that are associated with both types of tonsil infection and they include painful swallowing, fever, chills, headache, earache, stiff or sore neck and jaw and a scratchy voice. The tonsils can be red, swollen and have white or yellowish spots.

Another tonsil infection you should keep an eye out for is tonsil stones. They have similar symptoms to tonsillitis and can take many forms – so you could get yellow, red or even a black tonsil stone.

Seeing a Doctor

Chronic tonsillitis does not always require medical attention, but the patient should see a doctor when there is muscle weakness, stiff neck, a fever of 103 degrees or more and promptly if the throat is so swollen that breathing is difficult.

The doctor will make a diagnosis based on a physical examination, and a throat swab may be taken to identify the cause.

types of tonsil infectionTreatment

Antibiotics will be prescribed if the throat culture shows the cause is a bacterial infection. They can be used to treat tonsil stones, tonsillitis and just about any kind of tonsil infection.

If the condition is recurrent or resistant to treatment, the doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy. This type of surgery was much more common in earlier times, but it is done only as a means of last resort these days.

There is a common belief that the best cure for most health issues is a good defence. This is also true for infected tonsils since the disease is very contagious. It is best to avoid people who are suffering from a tonsil infection. Good hygiene is also essential, so washing the hands using an antibacterial soap is recommended.

Tonsillar Cellulitis

While an episode of tonsillitis can usually be cleared up within less than a week, there are serious complications that can also develop. Sometimes the infection will spread and affect other areas within the body. This condition is called tonsillar cellulitis. A buildup of pus can also develop behind the tonsils known as peritonsillar abscess.

If that should happen, more surgery will be required to drain the abscess. It is very important for the patient to take the antibiotics as prescribed to prevent further complications which could include rheumatic fever.

Sometimes when the throat is very sore for more the a couple days, the problem may be strep throat rather than tonsillitis. It is important to see a doctor if the problem is severe and continues, to verify whether it really is strep throat.

This condition is also treated with antibiotics, and the patient should be scheduled for a follow-up visit after the full course of medication has been taken.

What are the Symptoms of Tonsil Infections

Tonsil stones are hard yellow or white growths that grow on the tonsils or within them. It’s difficult to diagnose them and most people might not be aware of them particularly because their size different from that of a rice grain to a grape.

They rarely cause more health complications but they can grow bigger in size forcing the tonsils to swell. Additionally, they produce a very unpleasant odor.

Causes Of Tonsil Stones

Tonsils contain crypts basically made up of tunnels, crevices and pits. Eventually, they collect different types of debris such as mucus, dead cells, saliva and food causing a lot of buildup. Eventually bacteria will thrive on this buildup cause an unpleasant odor.

With time, the debris hardens to become a tonsil stone. It might be one large stone or smaller formations. Some of the causes of tonsil stones include the following.

  • Large tonsils
  • Inflamed tonsils
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Chronic sinus issues

Tonsil Stones Symptoms

As mentioned sometimes they are tough to notice but there are a few tonsil stones infection symptoms that might be noticeable. These include the following:

  • Trouble when swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Ongoing cough
  • Yellow or white debris on the tonsils

With smaller tonsil stones will not have any symptoms but are more common than the large ones. Watching out for these symptoms is how to tell if you have tonsil stones.

How Can You Prevent Tonsil Stones

If you get tonsil stones, they will have a regular recurrence but you can take a few steps to prevent them. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Start practicing good oral and dental hygiene. For instance, you should clean the bacteria on the back of your tongue when brushing your teeth to prevent any buildup.
  • Make sure you are properly hydrated by taking lots of water every day
  • Gargle regularly with salty water to clear out the bacteria in the buildup
  • Stop smoking

These are also good practices for other oral infections like tonsillitis, mouth ulcers and gingivitis.

Removing Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones are not very harmful but you can remove them because of the bad breath and if there is a lot of discomfort. There are numerous medical procedures and home remedies that can be used to remove tonsil stones. Here are some of the top choices for tonsil stone removal you should consider.

  • Gargling – Use salt water to gargle vigorously to remove any discomfort in your throat and dislodge the tonsil stones. It will also change the chemistry in your mouth removing any bad odors caused by the tonsil stones.
  • Coughing” You can find out whether you have tonsil stones by coughing. Once discovered, energetic coughing can loosen them up completely.
  • Manual Removal ” Don’t use a toothbrush to remove your tonsil stones since it might cause bleeding or infection. Alternatively, you should consider a cotton swab or a water pick for a gentle removal.
  • Medical Removal Procedures ” You can visit the doctor to have your tonsil stones removed through lasers. However, there are some antibiotics that can remove them.

Keep in mind that tonsil stones are not contagious but there are a few complications they might cause such as inflammation, swelling, infection or abscess as well as disrupting the normal tissue found in the tonsils.

If any of these complications occur, you need to consider surgery.