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Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils. Your tonsils are situated on either side of the back of your throat. They are part of the body's immune system and work by trapping viruses and bacteria travelling through the body.
Tonsillitis is spread by air borne droplets, hand contact and kissing. Symptoms normally show within two to four days after contact with the infection.
If you have a sore throat that lasts for more than a few days or is very painful with a marked difficulty in swallowing you should consult your GP.
In the majority of patients, the throat infection is caused by a virus. A viral infection cannot be treated with antibiotics and patients should take painkillers to bring down any temperature and kill any pain. You may also wish to use a mouthwash to reduce discomfort.
In a small minority of people, tonsillitis caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics. If antibiotics are prescribed it is important that you finish the course to ensure that the infection is cured.
Tonsillectomies, where the tonsils are surgically removed, may be necessary for those who suffer severe, repeated bouts of tonsillitis that do not respond to traditional methods of treatment. However, nowadays this practice is relatively rare.