How Long is Tonsillitis Contagious?

Updated on 13 Mar 2012,
Published on 02 Jul 2008

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding tonsils infection, "is tonsillitis contagious?" But before we move towards the discussion and form a conclusion about it, let us briefly take a look on what are causes of tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which may cause them to enlarge, become red and covered with white spots. It is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections, which may sometimes lead to further complications. The most common tonsillitis symptoms noticed are sore throat, fever, headache and common cold. The symptoms could be usually seen after 2-5 days of exposure.

The most common cause of tonsillitis being EBV, which also causes glandular fever or infectious mononucleosis, pertains to being highly communicable. And thus, transmitted easily from one person to another and is highly contagious. All forms of tonsil infections are usually spread by droplet transmission, that occurs normally when an infected person sneezes, coughs, drips or exhales. Hand contact and kissing can also spread the disease.

When the pathogens come in contact with your skin, mouth, nose, eyes or other mucus membranes, it can cause the infection. If strep bacteria causes the infection, it can remain contagious for up to 2 weeks without treatment. However, antibiotics can shorten the contagious period and limits to about 24 to 48 hours once the therapy starts.

If the infection remains contagious, then it can lead to other complications such as infection of the middle ear, which may result to complications of the kidney or the heart.

This infection is more prone to children; so, make sure to keep your children away from the infected child for a couple of days at least. Though a baby may not catch tonsillitis, but it may set off another respiratory infection as babies have a weak immune system. Also, make sure to keep your sick child’s drinking glass and eating utensils separate. All members of the family should wash their hands frequently as a preventive measure.

Also, get information on other troublesome viral/bacterial infections like

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And kindly, share your valuable comments with us.

54 Response(s)
Alicia
My doctor recently diagnosed me with tonsillitis and he also confirmed that it is contagious. I fear even my children and husband will get it from me so help me find a remedy that will get rid of the tonsils instantly without having to wait any longer.
Guest 1911
Alicia, tonsillectomy is one way you can think of. All the best!!!
Fred on the Roll
1) gargle with warm water and salt, 2) chew some ginger, 3) if this doesn’t help then see your doctor.
Rick
How long will my tonsil last? I can’t open my mouth to swallow even a morsel. This is awful =(
jesse
i believe 4-10 days
Judie
try some penicillin and ibuprofen, it's an anti-inflammatory. worked for me, the ibuprofen took the pain away almost instantly and i could swallow and eat again.
Nicole
gargling dissolvable paracetamol is magic (spit it out when you're done gargling - dont' swallow!!)
Brittany
I've been prone to tonsillitus since I was a child, I get it about every year. I should have gotten my tonsils removed, but my mother opted not to, and I haven't looked into it since I was an adult. Though, I have heard that this is the best measure in altogether preventing such infections. However, if your doctor put you on antibiotics, then you shouldn't stay contageous 24-48 hours after the medication begins. And next time you get it, there is a shot that they can give you to make you not contageous in as little as 8 hours after the shot. I always go with that option, since I have a child under two. Best of luck! And also- throw out your toothbrush afterward. It really helps prevent repeat infections..
Troy
tonsillitis can last up to 4-10 days based on the antibiotics given. if no antibiotics are given, than it may last longer and become worst. contact a doctor after 3 days.
Fannie
This was my first time. I didn't know what was going on. But when I got the shot in my hip, I felt better after I rested. I feel good now, but I still have aches in my ear and lower but top stomach area, it's actually throbbing. I'm glad I went to the doctor, and not wait.
Nicole
I just went to the doctor today because I had a all of the flu symptoms and then I looked at my throat with a flashlight and noticed white puss pockets on the back of my throat. I had a tonsillectomy when I was 4. However, my doctor explained to me today that my tonsils had grown back a little and on that little bit of skin I now had tonsillitus. Please someone explain this to me, why would my mother put me through surgery when I was 4 just to have my tonsils grow back and now give me problems 20 years later?
Veronica
Nicole, my son had the same type of thing happen with his adnoids..when kids are small they have to be very carefull because things are so small and tight together, an not damage anything. with that being said if they miss the slightest bit they can come back..my son has had two adnoidectomies(hes three now) and praying he dont have to go for a third.
sarah
i have got tonsilitus despite having my tonsils removed 2 years ago! Think carefully before you have your tonsils out. It is excruciatingly painful and you can still catch tonsilitus! :-(
Rebecca
Iv had tonsilitus for 3 1/2 weeks now. I have already had one course of antibiotics and have been back to the doctors where I was told I need to have symptoms another week before she will give me any more :(. I personally think thats a joke because that will take me into the 4 1/2 weeks stage and I feel terrible :(. It is painful and I have been drinking loads of water like your told to do. Believe me once you have it its a waiting game. Make sure you get a treatment of about 8 days as that will kill it first time I was only given 5 and it didn't work. Good luck to anyone with this evil infection.
Shannon
I have tonsillitis for the third time since this past May. It is terrible and I have no idea how I keep getting it. No one I know has tonsillitis so I'm not quite sure where it is coming from. The doctors gave me a stronger antibiotic which seemed to help a little but the infection spread to my other tonsil (i have never gotten it on the right side before). I guess my questions are 1) how am I getting tonsillitis and 2) why wont the doctors remove them??? Thanks for reading :)
Hanny
Hi. I noticed that this problem in November 2009 , but eventually underwent surgery on the 26 of July 2010 .Since the start of the infection ,I dont know many different antibiotics I took . My doctor prescribe a variety of antibiotics. The only thing that it seem to do , was just to minimise the pain and minimise the bleed . The first time ,I notice that I had them ,I thought it was gums acting up. Hopefully ,the surgery will help .After the surgery , the only thing that I currently endure is pain after pain .Eating and drinking has become slow and excrutiating exercise .I believe after it has healed , i will enjoy life and eating out as before this ....
paul
i have tonsillitis and i caught it at a frat party.now im gna spread it as much as possible!
Abby
PAUL...YOU R A IDIOT
olan
i just got my tonsilitis last week and it was already cured by erythromicin but after 2 days feeling that im cured already I ate poptarts and my toncils reacted again and repeat the same symptoms of swelling and fever etc., does toncilitis have relapses too?? and pls. anyone could giv me some advice about my situation. thnx
michelle
I have tonsilitis at the moment the symptoms started approx 2 weeks ago and as soon as I started to get a mild pain in my throat I started to take antibiotics which were left in my cupboard the month before ( 2 days worth)within 2 days I was better however a week later the pain returned but I had ran out of antibotics so I went to the dr straight away (the 2nd time) and started taking the antibiotics and brufen and feel much better but I make sure that I take brufen evry 6-8hrs and paraceamol inbetween for break through pain but I will make sure that I finish the complete course of antibiotics even when I feel totally better
dondon
hi I have toncilitis, what are the symtoms when its already curred?
Corrie
if you look inside your mouth at the back of your throat, at the walls you can see the tonsils if there is puss, or white things on them, you have it, for sure.
Jelena
Hi. I'm 17 and I just got diagnosed today. I think the worst part is that I have my HSC starting in 2 days. I haven't been able to eat anything for a long time and I can't drink or speak. My doctor put me on antibiotics and said it should get better within two days. I feel sorry for anyone else who has tonsillitis. It's horrible.
christine
i feel like i want to die. this is the worst sickness i have ever had. i had a fever for almost 4 days and thought i was going to die. don't spread this infection around. it hurts so much and is unbearable :(
Britt
Christine; i fully agree with you, i felt like i was going to die too. It's prbably one of the worst things iv'e gotten :/ Iv'e had it for 5 days now and I just got diagnosed yesterday and they gave me medicine so i really hope i don't have to have it for that long. I feel really bad for the people who have it and know what it feels like. Hope you all get better, God bless.
Ashleigh
I have tonsilitis yet again. I have had it nearly once every three months for the past two years. It's getting progressively worse each time I have it. I always go to my doctors and take the prescribed antibiotics (usually penicillin or amoxicillin) and eventually feel better. I am in need of a more long term Solution as each time I get it I have to take time of work. Is it worth getting them removed? And how do I convince my doctor to allow this. I fontina different doctor almost every time so none of them Really know how much ingrtbit.
Ray
9 days ago I caught a nasty cold, constantly having to blow my nose, and it just started getting better 4 days ago, then I developed a sore throat. I checked my tonsils and found white spots on each one, but its not that enflamed (just a bit sore). I went to the doctor yesterday and they prescribed me Clarithromycin which I have to take twice a day (500mg). The annoying thing is that I've been in bed feeling really under the weather since yesterday, and there is only two days until Christmas day. I have also quarantined myself at my mothers house so my wife or 2 year old daughter don't catch it. It's not much fun, but apparently the Clarithromycin will take effect after 3 days (it's day two today) so fingers crossed I'll be well for Christmas. Anyone know how contagious it is after 3 days of antibiotics?
craig
i had it like a week before christmas that just been, i recovered from it within the week, my dad got it from drinking out of my drink in the fridge, he took a sip, eww pepsi max, meh its in my glass now, mays well drink it, then i got it again on boxing day, after a day, went to the doctors, took all the antibiotics until the box was gone, its been getting worse, upper body fever, complete body aches, chest pain's, when i have blown my nose, there has been blood, been coughing about every 20 seconds, for a good 5 seconds. and everything else, been getting so dizzy, i literally fall over. landed on a closed door, thank god.
Jessi
I've had Tonsillitis since before Christmas and it's heading towards February. My symptoms were unbearable until I got some antibiotics New Year's eve. My symptoms have gotten much better but my Tonsilitis has not gone away yet. I don't have puss but my right Tonsil is still swollen a bit. My mom just gave me a very strong magnet from the company she works for called NIKKEN. They have amazing stuff that works wonders so I have no doubt it will work
Tamara
I have just recently been diagnosed with tonsilitis and its the worst. i can barely open my mouth and swallowing is so painful. what really was helpful was icecream and sucking on ice cubes it relieves the pain for awhile and i feel great!
Guest
Oil of Oregano. Especially for those of you who are saying you get Tonsillitis multiple times in a short period. Can be used for many things and is a natural subtanse. Look it up, check it out, works wonders for me.
Chesley
I was diagnosed with tonsilitis 7 days ago and I just started swallowing solid foods 2 days ago. It is very painful. Sucking on ice cubes & popsicles helped soothe the pain along with eating ice cream. Drinking white tea also soothed my throat a lot. I just finished my antibiotics and the swelling has not completely gone down yet so back to the doctors...
Mike
Saturday evening I felt my throat was lumpy and by midnight I had a fever. Sunday had a cronic headache with dizzyness but my throat didn't hurt just felt lumpy and restricted. I went to the doctors on Monday feeling the same, he looked in my mouth and asked if he could take a picture of my huge tonsil with white spots on it! He gave me some tablets to desolve on my tounge and some antiboitics. After a couple of hours I felt better and now its Tuesday evening I'm ready to eat again but he did say that I need to take 10 days of the antibiotics. Good luck to anyone else with this horrible illness. Mike
James
Shannon, there are many causes of tonsillitis. Steptacocus, the common cold, including sexually transmitted diseases. Hate to say it, but it's possible to get tonsillitis from oral sex. I just got it after going down on a new girl 2 days later. I also had a cold before that that weakened my body a lot, but that could have been from the previous time I did it! Make sure you keep your hands clean, drink green tea and gargle with salt water morning and night, and as often as you can throughout the day. Green tea is supposed to have a cleansing effect. So as I'm a teacher I drink it throughout the day. If you feel a sore throat coming on, gargle. It's your first defense. Good luck!
Stephen
I had tonsilitis when i was around 12 and it was really bad, i went to school fine on monday but the rest of the week i was sick with tonsilitis, there is no way it is 1 to 2 days, it is more like 3-8 days
B3ky
I have just got tonsilllitis, and it is horrible. I went to my youth group today and got told by certain people that it is contageous!!! It is not contageos after medication has started 24-48 hours after which mine is!!! I have been on antiobiotics and ibuprfen and it is working. It is difficult eating solid foods. I find though drinking plenty during the night works. I am not in work for a week now which means I have lost some money x awwwwwww Good Luck x x
Beth
Hi i caught tonsilitus 3days ago for the first time and i went to the doctor. He gave me antibiotics and da dee da. He said i wouldnt be contagious after 48 hours. Does it look a certain way when it is no longer contagious? Beth x
Stewie
All...I have severe tonsilitis from meeting a new girl. We had tons of oral and I have no doubt it came from this. Just passing information on!
northstarr..
I've had a sore throat a few days now. And over the wknd i was researching white spots on tonsils... It turns out it's tonsillitis... It sure is miserable!! I feel for all you out there, who cant eat. I haven't eaten for 3 days and I am just now on antibiotics today!! I hope i get well soon... U all too!!! :)
Lori
Beware. I have dealt with tonsillitis and strep for many years and just know they are connecting the continual infection with problems I am having with my kidneys now. Don't wait to long or you might start having problems elsewhere. Now I am in the middle of several specialists to determine how to fix both problems.
jenny
hi, ive got tonsillitis - i noticed after the first day of a sore throat and when i started to be unable to swallow without pain. i wne t straight to the docs that night and have been taking anitibiotics for about 24hrs... im supposed to be going on a date tonight!!! i feel better (although my throat is still painful) should i cancel or go and say i cant kiss him!!!! lol
John
Jenny, I was just diagnosed with tonsillitis, and it is a horribly Painful infection. I would suggest canceling the date, as it is not a good idea to risk infecting someone else!
Barbara
I was just recently diagnosed with Tonsillitis. I am 25 and this is my first time. It started out as just a normal sore throat and turned into a 103 degree fever very rapidly(within 24 hrs) while taking ibuprofen. I went into the Doctor and the gave me a steroid shot in the bottom which helped with my throat and gave me the chance to eat which was great but this shot they told me would last about 2-3 days is no longer working and it's been less than 24 hrs. I am also on antibiotics. I asked the Doctor how long I would be contagious (I also have a little one) and she told me after 24 hrs of being on antibiotics I should be fine. I would recommend to anyone going through this to keep on top of the fever(use sheets not blankets,luke warm showers/cold wet wash rag on forehead,and ibuprofen), AVOID carbonated drinks(they are very painful and if caffeinated they dehydrate faster), if on antibiotics avoid dairy it may cause stomach upset or severe pains/cramps. Yes, even ice cream, stick to small amounts and use popsicles, ice cubes, ice water, or frozen juices o numb the throat. I tried to avoid really hot food items like soups. I let them cool down to room temperature, the heat felt like it was making my throat close more but everyone is different. I hope this helps. Good Luck and Take Care!
Sam
Hi, My BF currently has it and he's had it for about two weeks... We've been in close contact and even kissed but I've not caught it. Could I be immune or am I just lucky?? He was diagnosed with Viral at an NHS walk in and sent away with orders to get ibruprofen and paracetamol... He's at a gig now and the medical centre there says its antibacterial and have given him antibiotics! I know I've probably just been lucky and we're due to spend even more time together in a days time... what can I do to make sure I don't get it?
Perry
Hi,I had Tonsillitis for about 4days and no pain now or any fever. I first went to see my general doctor and he gave me a shot of Penecillin. This will make you feel good for about a couple of hours and a course of antibiotics(Amoxicillin) now these antibiotics are fine for the bacterial type of tonsillitis or strep. So I still suffered light fever and aches after.I decided to go to my ENT and told me that I have acute tonisillitis he prescribed fo me Lukes magic mouthwash which is mixed by the pharmacy and stuff works and it dont taste bad, I even had to swallow it too he says so it can be effective for the back of the throat. Also a dose of steriods to stop the swelling fast (medrol) stuff works very fast...So if your suffering pain ibuprofen is best and the other drugs will help. Go see your ENT ask about the mouth wash.
nurse101
first of all, do NOT take antibiotics that have been sitting in your cupboard! Not only is this dangerous to your health, but you could be taking an antibiotic which isn't even related to what you are trying to treat and in the process creating a resistance to that specific antibiotic. So next time around that antibiotic might not work for you. Second, if you do not finish your FULL CYCLE of antibiotics your chances of getting the infection again is likely, along with your body has a higher chance of developing resistance to that antibiotic. This is why your doctor always stresses "finish the cycle even if you are feeling better!" STAY HOME if you have recently been diagnosed. You are no longer contagious after beginning a cycle of antibiotics and waiting 24-48 hours after. If you want your tonsils removed, consult your family physician. A walk-in doctor or ER doctor generally will not suggest you go for a surgery. Be kind and don't pass this infection on, it is incredibly painful, you would know if you have or had had it!
SNM!!!
You said once on antibiotics for 24/48 hours, it limits the contagious while going through the theropy? What if you can still see it in the back of your throat? Does that still mean it's contagious???
Lovo
thank you all for sharing the info to me, my girlfriend has it well more like got it from her ex long time ago while he cheated on her, but lol I asked if was a std infection she got angry which wasn't called for if it's not, I've been reading info on this infection And all as she complains about the pain and all I understand why now, but for some reason I am immune to it no matter if I kiss her, I do t get it at all which I was scared first to of caught it Thank you all (:
Nadia
i think i gave my friend tonsollotis we both have all the symtoms i dont want to go to a doctor but i am in pain cause it hurts when i swallow
angel
i have 3month old daughter, i hav tonsils. Cant eat or drink anything how can i make sure that my baby does not get it
Siobhan
Seriously people, TMI! We don't need to hear all the details of your sex life. I've got tonsillitis and had a fever and worst ever headache for a few days. I've been wearing a mask so I don't infect my 9 month old. No one else in my house has caught it yet thankfully.
Simon
I'm dying... :'(
Anais
I am currently suffering from tonsillitis. And have been taking penicillin for 3 days now. Its horrible don't spread it or seriously karma will give it back to you worse.. The pain from swallowing has gone now. But there are still white lumps in the back of my throat. Its not nice at all!
Isaac
My girlfriend had tonsillitis 2weeks before I first kissed her, and I have not come into contact with anyone else that has had the infection, will it be my girlfriend who has given it to me?
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