If you suspect that you or your child has tonsillitis, they need to be diagnosed so that the proper treatment can be given. Tonsils can become infected at any age, but it is most common among children from 6 years old to 18. Another reason to have it diagnosed quickly is because it is contagious.

The Cause

There are two different types of infected tonsils – viral and bacterial. For the bacterial type, which accounts for up to 30 percent of the cases, it is the same bacteria that can cause strep throat. Viruses are the most common cause.

Your tonsils produce white blood cells and serves as your primary protection against viruses or bacteria that enter your mouth. Because of this, they can easily become infected. Their strongest period of defense, however, is before the person reaches the age of puberty.

The Symptoms

There are three main symptoms that indicate that infected tonsils are present. They include a sore throat, a fever, and swollen tonsils. Other symptoms, because there is more than one type of infection in the tonsils, may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Earaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • A stiff neck
  • A voice that sounds scratchy
  • White or yellow spots on the tonsils.

A young child may also have a poor appetite, heavy drooling, and increased irritability.

In more severe cases, there may be other symptoms that require seeing a doctor immediately. These symptoms may include:

  • Swelling or redness in the neck
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe pain when swallowing
  • Unable to eat, drink, or take medications

Tonsillitis Is Highly Contagious

If you or your child have infected tonsils, it is important that you stay away from other people as much as possible. The bacteria or viruses involved can be spread through droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing, or through saliva shared through kissing or sharing food or drinks. If the cause is viral, the individual may be contagious for 7 to 10 days. If the cause is bacterial, and if they are not treated, they could be contagious for up to two weeks.


Treatment depends on the type of cause – whether it is bacterial or viral. This illness requires that a diagnosis be made so that the right treatment may be given. Most likely, a throat culture will be taken, along with a rapid strep test.

Get Seen Quickly

At the Silver Star Urgent Care clinic, you can get seen by a medical professional quickly. It is not necessary to go to an emergency room at a hospital where you will likely sit for hours waiting to be seen. We also accept walk-ins. Our doctors are all Board-certified and some of them have worked in hospital emergency rooms.

The Silver Star Urgent Care clinic is able to diagnose and treat tonsillitis. We can also handle nearly any kind of medical problem – except life-threatening emergencies. We are well-equipped and have diagnostic equipment on site. We also accept most insurance plans, and are open late for your convenience: from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm.