Tonsillitis And Quinsy: Symptoms, Complications And Treatments

Acute tonsillitis is a disease of the throat that is common among young people. Many of the victims of this condition often experience repeated attacks. The disease, which may be associated with rheumatic fever, has several recognized complications, one of which is known as quinsy.

Also called peritonsillar abscess, quinsy consists of the development of an abscess around the tonsil, with the throat often being severely swollen, making swallowing extremely difficult and painful. Later, the neck glands become swollen that the mere opening of mouth becomes too taxing for the victim. Likewise in quinsy, there is high fever and great prostration.

Apart from quinsy, tonsillitis may be followed by any of these conditions: reddish and boggy swellings beneath the skin; acute inflammation of the kidneys; infection of the heart valves; or chorea minor, a disease marked by jerking movements affecting mainly the face and extremities.

It is also possible for the complications mentioned to develop in a tonsil infection that persists and becomes chronic, though no longer causing symptoms typical in tonsillitis. Because of these, it is advised that a person who has a persistent tonsillar infection without acute symptoms or who suffers repeated attacks of acute tonsillitis undergoes tonsillectomy. This surgical procedure is, of course, done only after the infection has subsided.

A chill and aching in the back and limbs often accompany the onset of acute tonsillitis. The fever may rise rapidly to as high as 40°C (104°F). Other symptoms of acute tonsillitis include the following:

* Intense throat soreness;

* Difficulty in swallowing;

* Coated tongue and foul breath;

* Red and swollen tonsil (whitish or yellowish patches may appear on the tonsil’s surface);

* Swollen neck glands.

In some cases of acute tonsillitis, there is a red rash over the chest or the whole body which may be likened to that seen in scarlet fever.

Treatments for tonsillitis or quinsy include the application of cold or hot compress to the neck, depending on which one the patient can tolerate better. Cold applications are best given using an ice collar, while hot applications may be administered with the use of narrow fomentations.

An hourly hot gargle of a suitable solution (prepared by dissolving 1/2 teaspoonful of baking soda and an equal amount of common salt in a glass of warm water) can help. The patient also has to take plenty of liquids (fruit juices and especially water), preferably warm.

To help bring about prompt improvement, the physician may prescribe antibiotics. Again in case of repeated attacks of tonsillitis or quinsy, the tonsils should be removed after the infection has subsided.


1. “Tonsillitis,” on Medline Plus –

2. “Tonsillitis” –…