Is Tonsillitis Contagious?
Most acute tonsil infections are caused by viruses or bacteria, and usually
are contagious (transmitted) by direct person-to-person contact.
- Tonsillitis caused by a virus infection usually is contagious for about 7-10 days.
- Bacterial tonsillitis can remain contagious for about two weeks.
- Tonsillitis caused by bacteria and with treated antibiotics are considered non-contagious after approximately 24-48 hours antibiotic therapy.
Tonsillitis and adenoid infection definition and facts
- Tonsils and adenoids are composed of tissues similar to the lymph nodes or glands.
- Acute tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils caused by one of several types of bacteria or viruses.
- Chronic tonsillitis is a persistent infection of the tonsils and can cause tonsil stone formation.
Signs and symptoms of tonsil or adenoid infection include:
- Peritonsillar abscess is a collection of pus behind the tonsils.
- Obstruction to breathing by enlarged tonsils and adenoids may cause snoring and
disturbed sleep patterns.
- Bacterial infections of the tonsils and adenoids are treated with antibiotics, viral infections are not.
- Tonsillitis and adenoid infections are diagnosed with a history and physical exam. A throat culture and rapid strep test may be ordered in cases of tonsillitis suspected to be bacterial.
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
(surgical removal of the tonsils) may be recommended: (1) for repeated or persistent infections; (2) when serious complications of infection occur; and (3) when enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids causes breathing, swallowing, or dental problems.
What are the tonsils and adenoids?
The tonsils and adenoids are composed of tissues similar to the lymph nodes or glands found in the neck or other parts of the body. Together, they are part of a ring of glandular tissue (Waldeyer's ring) encircling the back of the throat.
The tonsils are the two masses of tissue on either side of the back of the throat. Normal tonsils are usually about the same size and have the same pink color as the surrounding area. On their surfaces are little depressions, called crypts, which may appear deep and contain pus pockets or tonsil stones.
The adenoids are located high in the throat behind the nose and soft palate (the roof of the mouth) and unlike the tonsils, are not easily visible through the mouth. A tonsillectomy and an adenoidectomy (commonly referred to as a T & A) are surgical procedures performed to remove the tonsils and adenoids.
What is the purpose of the tonsils and adenoids?
The tonsils and adenoids are thought to assist the body in its defense against incoming bacteria and viruses by helping the body form antibodies. However, this function may only be important during the first year of life. There is no evidence to support a significant role of the tonsils and adenoids in immunity. Medical studies have shown that children who have their tonsils and adenoids removed suffer no loss in their future immunity to disease or ability to ward off infections.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/15/2016