Viral Tonsillitis and Bacterial Tonsillitis

Updated on 09 Jun 2009,
Published on 02 Jun 2009

The inflammation or infection of the tonsils is referred to as tonsillitis. It may be caused due to viral or bacterial infection. Most episodes of tonsillitis in children are viral. Like the bacterial tonsillitis, viral tonsillitis is also infectious and can be easily spread through direct contact like sneezing, coughing, respiratory secretions etc. The general symptoms of viral tonsillitis are almost the same with that of the bacterial tonsillitis except for some minor differences. But clinically, the difference between viral and bacterial tonsillitis is that in the former you will only see that the tonsils are congested whereas in the latter, you can see changes in the tonsil like follicles, pus, larger crypts, etc.

In viral tonsillitis, one gland may be larger than the other one. Also, both the back and front glands are enlarged and swollen and is usually associated with swelling liver or spleen. The major difference between viral tonsillitis and bacterial tonsillitis lies in the procedure of their treatments. Unlike the bacterial infection, antibiotics cannot cure the viral infection. All that can be done for the treatment of the viral infection is to rely on medications for controlling pain and fever.

Some of the common viruses that cause tonsillitis are:

1) Adenoviruses

2) Influenza or flu virus

3) Epstein Bar virus

4) Parainfluenza viruses

5) Enteroviruses

6) Herpes.

Of all these viruses, the most common viruses are adenovirus and Epstein bar virus. Adenovirus is common among early childhood and is responsible for about 10% of all respiratory infections. Epstein bar virus is the agent that causes mononucleosis which is also known as the kissing disease. This virus exhibits ample symptoms such as fever, severely inflamed tonsils, swollen and tender neck glands, enlarged spleen, and fatigue. The swelling in the throat can get so severe that it can obstruct your breathing process.

For the treatment of viral tonsillitis, the body’s own defense system and time is all that we can rely on. Researches are still working on to find out an anti-infective agent to deal with such viral infection. Mostly teenagers and adults are found to be affected by mono.

Suggested Reading:
Acute tonsillitis
how long is tonsillitis contagious
benefits of tonsillectomy for tonsillitis

3 Response(s)
i hope so that soon we can found a treatment for viral infections.
Hi my 2.5 year old has had swollen tonsils for 25 days with no change in their size. I have brought him to the doctor twice. The first time was because he spiked a temperature and the second was because I'm concerned it's going on so long. He hasn't had a temperature for a few weeks now, he is in good enough form, but he is gagging, as the tonsils are very enlarged. He also threw up last night when he coughed, but no temp. I know it's viral and Ive been giving him plenty of fluids and 3 x 5 mls of carpool each day. What else can I do? He terrible for the little man. He's got to be uncomfortable. Any ideas, advice, tips? Thank you.
hi Orla, it gets really tough seeing your child suffering through such viral infections.. but don't you worry about that, as there are a few easy to manage home remedies for your kid. Firstly, give him warm drinks everyday, like green tea, soups, ginger tea. Secondly, manuka honey works excellently in such conditions. Give him one teaspoon every night, before going to bed. Other ways to soothe his condition, you can give few warm compresses and strictly avoid the street foods, deep fried, ones with preservatives and highly processed ones. Take him for a walk daily where there are lots of trees, birds, flowers and fresh air to breathe. This will soothe his mind too, and help him recover soon. Hope this helps. TC
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