Tonsillitis is mostly caused by a virus and is often precededby a cold (a runny nose, cough and sore eyes). Fewer cases (about one in seven) are caused by bacteria. The most commontype of bacteria involved is streptococcus (also known as‘strep’ throat).
There are 2 main types of tonsillitis: acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis can either be bacterial or viral in origin. Subacute tonsillitis is caused by the bacterium ''Actinomyces''. Chronic tonsillitis, which can last for long periods if not treated, is mostly caused by bacterial infection.
The tonsils are areas of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. Most commonly, the term "tonsils" refers to the palatine tonsils that can be seen in the back of the throat.
They may become so overwhelmed by bacterial or viral infection that they swell and become inflamed, causing tonsillitis. The infection may also be present in the throat and surrounding areas, causing inflammation of the pharynx. The pharynx is in the back of the throat, between the tonsils and the voicebox (larynx).
Tonsillitis is extremely common, particularly in children.
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