Acute tonsillitis caused by a virus is usually self-limiting and symptomatic treatment is sufficient. However, if the tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed that needs to be completed. Stopping the antibiotics prematurely may lead to the bacteria developing a resistance to it.
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viral infection and antibiotics is not necessary. It is usually self-limiting and symptomatic treatment to relieve pain and inflammation is all that is required. It takes about a week for full recovery. Drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration is usually advised.
Children should not be prescribed aspirin because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome - a potentially life-threatening illness causing encephalopathy (brain damage) and fatty liver. Persons diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis should not exert themselves or engage in strenuous activity for a month for fear of splenic rupture.
Surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) for tonsillitis may be recommended when a patient has:
Tonsillectomy may also be recommended to treat an abscess that does not improve with antibiotic treatment, or if breathing is blocked by swollen tonsils.
A complete recovery may take up to 2 weeks.