Quinsy (Tonsillitis) : Causes, Prevention, Symptoms And Treatment


At the back of the throat are two tissue pads with an oval shape called tonsils. Each side has an inflamed tonsil. Tonsillitis symptoms include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and sensitive lymph nodes on the sides of the neck.

Although tonsillitis can sometimes be brought on by bacterial infections, the majority of cases are caused by typical viral infections.

It is critical to have a timely and precise diagnosis since the proper therapy for tonsillitis relies on the underlying reason. Once a routine therapy for tonsillitis, surgery to remove the tonsils is now often only done when the infection is severe, recurrent, or causes other serious consequences.


Common viruses are most frequently to blame for tonsillitis, although bacterial infections can also be to blame.

Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus), the bacteria that causes strep throat, is the most frequent cause of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis has been connected to several other bacteria, including strep varieties.

Your tonsils serve as the immune system's first line of defence against viruses and bacteria that enter your mouth. Due to this function, the tonsils may be especially prone to infection and inflammation. Tonsillitis in adults is rare, although it can happen because the tonsil's immune system starts to degenerate beyond puberty.

How to check if you have Quinsy?

A swelling, pus-filled pocket that develops next to one of your tonsils is known as a peritonsillar abscess. 

It can be uncomfortable and/or painful. It can also make opening your mouth challenging.

Some other signs of having quinsy are having a strong sore throat that worsens quickly, swelling in the mouth and throat, and having trouble speaking, swallowing or breathing. 

Peritonsillar abscesses are typically brought on by bacteria, and tonsillitis frequently leads to them. This occurs when the infection travels from the tissue around your tonsil to the surrounding tonsil.

Risk Factors

The infection may potentially spread to your lips, neck, chest, or lungs if left untreated.

Certain factors, such as smoking and gum disease, can increase the likelihood of peritonsillar abscesses.

Quinsy is contagious. Sneezing, coughing, and sharing eating utensils all contribute to the transmission of bacteria.

Tonsillitis risk factors include:

  • Being young. 
  • Children are most frequently affected by tonsillitis, while those aged 5 to 15 are most frequently affected by bacterial tonsillitis.
  • Frequent contact with pathogens.
  •  Children at school are regularly exposed to viruses or bacteria that might cause tonsillitis due to close interaction with their friends.


A peritonsillar abscess generally presents initially as a painful throat, with other symptoms appearing over the following few days. Other typical signs of a peritonsillar abscess include:

  • Tonsillitis
  • A fever
  • Chills
  • Your face and neck swelling
  • A headache or an earache.

Other symptoms concern the mouth area such as:

  • Drooling
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Poor breath
  • A voice that is hushed or harsh or your uvula (the fleshy, dangling ball in the back of your throat) may be being pushed back by a tonsil.


Peritonsillar abscesses cannot be entirely avoided. You can nevertheless lower your risk by not being a smoker, promptly treating oral infections and generally,

observing proper dental hygiene. 

Microorganisms that are contagious propagate both bacterial and viral tonsillitis. Therefore, maintaining excellent hygiene is the greatest form of prevention. Teach your youngster to:

  • Avoid sharing food, drink, water, or utensils, and wash hands thoroughly and regularly, especially after using the restroom and before eating.
  • Change to a new toothbrush after tonsillitis has been diagnosed.

To assist your kid in limiting the exposure of others to bacterial or viral infection:

  • Keep your sick child at home as much as you can.
  • Find out from your doctor when it is okay for your child to go back to school.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, if necessary, their elbow.
  • Teach your kid how to wash their hands after a cough or sneeze.


Quinsy typically requires both surgical drainage and medication. You might require a tonsillectomy if you develop multiple peritonsillar abscesses.


Antibiotics, which can be taken orally or intravenously (via a vein), will be advised by your doctor. Penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosporin, and clindamycin are examples of common oral (by mouth) antibiotics.

If a bacterial infection is the root of your tonsillitis, your doctor will advise taking a course of antibiotics. The most frequent antibiotic administered for tonsillitis brought on by group A streptococcus is penicillin, taken orally for 10 days. Your doctor will recommend an alternative antibiotic if your child is allergic to penicillin.

Even if the symptoms totally go, your child must complete the whole course of antibiotics as directed. If you do not take all of the prescribed treatments, the infection might get worse or spread to other areas of your body. Particularly, not finishing the entire antibiotic course might raise your child's chance of developing rheumatic fever and experiencing severe kidney irritation.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice on what to do if you fail to administer a dosage to your youngster.


Tonsillectomy surgery can be performed to treat chronic tonsillitis, bacterial tonsillitis that does not respond to antibiotic therapy, and tonsillitis that recurs often. Generally speaking, tonsillitis that is common includes:

  • Seven or more episodes in the year before
  • Every year over the past two years has had at least five episodes.
  • The previous three years had at least three episodes per year.

A tonsillectomy could also be required if tonsillitis results in issues that are difficult to manage, like:

  • Obstructive snoring
  • Breathing problems
  • Trouble swallowing, especially with meats and other thick meals
  • An abscess that does not go better after receiving antibiotic therapy
  • Unless your kid is extremely young, has a serious medical condition, or is otherwise exempt, a tonsillectomy is often performed as an outpatient treatment.
  • As a result, your youngster needs to be able to go home on the day of the procedure. Usually, it takes seven to fourteen days to fully recover.

Drainage of peritonsillar abscesses

Your medical professional will often drain the peritonsillar abscess. To accomplish this, a cut will be made in the abscess to discharge the fluid that is trapped inside.


Your doctor might suggest a tonsillectomy if you consistently develop peritonsillar abscesses. Your tonsils are surgically removed during this process.

Complications of Quinsy

The tonsils may become inflamed or swollen as a result of frequent or persistent (chronic) tonsillitis, which may have the following effects:

  • Breathing problems when you are asleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Infection that deeply infects nearby tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)
  • Pus-filled infection that causes a tonsil to swell up (peritonsillar abscess)
  • Strep throat

Your child is more likely to develop uncommon diseases like the following if group A streptococcus or another strain of streptococcal bacteria-caused tonsillitis is left untreated or treated insufficiently with antibiotics:

  • A deadly inflammatory disease called rheumatic fever can harm the heart, joints, neurological system, and skin.
  • Scarlet fever complications, a streptococcal illness marked by a noticeable rash
  • Chronic kidney inflammation (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
  • Reactive post-streptococcal arthritis, a disorder that makes the joints inflamed

You may experience recurrent (repeated) peritonsillar abscesses.

You may also experience difficulties or extreme swelling that prevents you from breathing. This may result in the abscess being drained in the hospital. 


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Page last reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Next review due: Mar 20, 2025

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