Tonsilitis Specialist

McMahan-Clemis Institute of Otolaryngology

Otolaryngology located in Chicago, IL

Although your tonsils serve as a first line of defense against foreign invaders, they aren’t immune to infection themselves. Tonsillitis, an infection of the tonsils, can cause pain and swelling along with a broad range of other symptoms. The doctors at McMahan-Clemis Institute of Otolaryngology in Chicago specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and recurring tonsillitis. If you suspect you may have tonsillitis – or have been suffering from repeat infections – schedule an appointment with one of the institute's experts today.

Tonsilitis Q & A

What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis refers to a viral or bacterial infection in the tonsils, large glands located at the back of your throat. While your tonsils produce antibodies and trap invaders before they infect your body, they are also prone to infection.

What Causes Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is most commonly caused by the bacteria that causes strep throat. Although less common, you can also get tonsillitis after exposure to these viruses:

  • the influenza virus
  • Adenoviruses
  • Parainfluenza viruses
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Enteroviruses

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Tonsillitis?

While signs and symptoms vary from one patient to the next, nearly every patient with tonsillitis will experience tonsil swelling and inflammation. Other symptoms, which may or may not be present, include:

  • Sore throat
  • Earache
  • Red tonsils with white or yellow patches
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills

Children sometimes also experience a stomach ache accompanied by nausea and vomiting when they have tonsillitis.

How is Tonsillitis Treated?

Before your doctor can recommend a course of treatment, he or she must first identify the underlying cause of your infection. To determine the cause of the infection, a doctor or nurse swabs your throat and sends the specimen to the lab for analysis. If a bacterial infection is present, you'll start taking antibiotics. If a virus is responsible for the infection, antibiotics won’t help. In these cases, you can help your body fight the infection by getting plenty of rest, increasing your fluid intake, and using a humidifier.

Whether you have viral or bacterial tonsillitis, over-the-counter medications can help you manage symptoms while you heal. Pain relievers and throat lozenges are recommended.

What are the Risks of Untreated Tonsillitis?

Untreated tonsillitis can result in severe swelling that blocks your airway. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as you suspect you (or your child) may have tonsillitis.

Who Can Treat Tonsillitis?

Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) specialize the diagnosis and treatment of tonsillitis. In many cases, your family medicine or primary care doctor may diagnose tonsillitis and refer you to an Otolaryngologist for further evaluation and treatment. Because these specialists have extensive experience in both routine and complex or recurring cases, they are often the best choice for treatment.