Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a viral infection.
Viruses known to cause tonsillitis include:
In rare cases, tonsillitis can also be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever .
If this is the case, you'll probablyfeel very ill. You'll have a sore throat and the lymph glands in your throat may be swollen. You may also have a fever and feel very tired.
Bacterial tonsillitis canbe caused by a number of different bacteria, but it's usually due to group A streptococcus bacteria .
In the past, serious bacterial infections, such as diphtheria and rheumatic fever , have been linked with tonsillitis. However, this is now rare, because these conditions are vaccinated against and treatment for them has greatly improved.
Tonsillitis itself isn't contagious, but the infections that cause it are.
Viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu, are spread through coming into close contact with someone who's infected.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of their nose and mouth. You can become infected by breathing in the contaminated droplets. This is known as direct contact.
You can also become infected if you touch a surface or object that the droplets have landed on and then touch your face. This is known as indirect contact.
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. It's usually caused by a viral infection or, less commonly, a bacterial infection.
The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. Your tonsils will be red and swollen, and your throat may be very painful, making swallowing difficult.
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viral infections. It can also be caused by bacterial infections, particularly group A streptococcus bacteria.
There's no specific treatment for tonsillitis and most cases get better within a week without treatment.
Tessa Hughes, from Brixton in London, had a tonsillectomy when she was 15, after having chronic tonsillitis.