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Acute Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis

Acute Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - Treatments

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.

  • Drink warm, soothing liquids - such as soup, broth and tea.
  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help reduce fever and decrease pain.

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:

  • Seven or more serious throat infections in one year
  • Five or more serious throat infections every year over a two year period
  • Three or more serious throat infections every year over a threeyear period
  • Chronic tonsillitis

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.

Acute Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - Preparing for surgery

Acute Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - Post-surgery care

Acute Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth