Peritonsillar Abscess Is a Severe Affliction. Dangerous?

076Peritonsillar abscess is a relatively common infection associated with the tonsils and it presents itself as pus beside the tonsils. This affliction is usually common to adults that are over 20 years old. There are fewer cases encountered in people over 40 years old and even less in children. This sickness  affects both males and females equally.

Is peritonsillar abscess contagiousThe answer is yes, but only mildly because the infection can spread to others only through saliva or nasal secretions.

This means that, as long as you do not make contact with these body fluids, you have nothing to worry about.

How does peritonsillar abscess manifests

The circumscribed abscess symptoms usually manifest themselves from two to eight days before the  sore is visible. This is a long and painful process and you should go to the doctor as soon as you have one of the symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms of a peritonsillitis can be mistaken to the ones of tonsillitis, since these two afflictions have common causes.

abscessSome of the symptoms for this sickness include severe pain in the throat, fever (higher than 39o Celsius), tenderness in the throat, difficulty in swallowing food and saliva, earache in the ear closest to the place where the abscess will form and difficulty in opening your mouth due to the inflammation of the peritonsillar area.

If you do not have the time to go to the doctor’s or you want to be sure that you have this affliction before the medical consult, you can always check out peritonsillar abscess emedicine. This is an online way of putting a diagnostic using only the symptoms you have. It is quite accurate and extremely easy to use.

This way, you will at least have an idea about what you are confronting with.

Some of the circumscribed abscess causes are types of bacteria, like streptococci and staphylococci, other aerobic or anaerobic bacteria, untreated or partially treated infections of the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis and the excessive use of oral antibiotics that weaken the throat.


How to treat peritonsillar abscess

First of all, if you detect the symptoms in an early stage, you can easily avoid the peritonsillar abscess causesunpleasant treatment that peritonsillar abscess usually requires.

If the doctor establishes that you will develop a pus, he or she can prescribe you some antibiotics that can counteract this sickness. In most case, though, doctors tend to wait and see how things develop instead or prescribing preventive antibiotics because, although these pills help, they can also decrease your immune system.

If you do not catch these symptoms in time, you might wake up one morning and already have an abscess that will require special medical care. Peritonsillitis treatment includes needle aspiration of the fluid, a surgical procedure to remove the sore and antibiotics.



Since in most case this disease is caused by bacteria, it is necessary to examine the fluid in order to determine which type of bacteria is responsible for this.

Each bacteria responds different to antibiotics and in the case of streptococci, penicillin does not work. This is why the most common antibiotic given for this affliction is clindamycin.

  • The surgical procedure consists in taking out the tonsils. This procedure is also known as tonsillectomy and it is usually a quick surgery. Usually, this is done after the abscess fluid is drained and it is not a must in treating this affliction.

Circumscribed abscess drainage is done using a special needle and it only takes a few seconds. The only bad part about this is that this procedure is a bit painful, but since you already feel an annoying pain due to the abscess, it might not feel that bad.

After the fluid is drained, it can be taken to the laboratory in order to study the bacteria that caused the abscess. This is extremely useful since the chance of getting another case of peritonsillitis is higher in patients that have had this sickness before.

Peritonsillar abscess recovery time is usually around a week, but the symptoms and the abscess itself will disappear after a day or two, if give the proper treatment.

Special peritonsillar abscess cases

peritonsillar abscess complicationA lot of people exhibit peritonsillitis after tonsillectomy. This has nothing to do with the surgical procedure, but more with the fact that a most people do not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against infections.

After a tonsils surgery, the tissue around the area where your tonsils where situated is damaged which makes it extremely susceptible to infection. This means that eating an unwashed fruit or something that came in contact with the ground can lead to infections and thus abscesses. 

As with most infections, the most serious complication for this disease comes from poor treatment. If the patient does not do a complete antibiotics treatment and takes the pills whenever he fills like it, the bacteria living in the abscess can become resistant to that particular antibiotic. And an antibiotic resistant infection can be fatal.

Another peritonsillar abscess complication is the spreading of the infection to the lungs. This means that a simple tonsillitis, if left untreated, can turn into a peritonsillitis, and if that is left untreated it can lead to a serious pneumonia that in most cases becomes fatal.

Septicemia is another serious complication. It is common to all infections and appears when the infections spreads to an important artery and contaminates the blood stream. Septic infection is a very dangerous complication because if it is not treated in a short period of time, it becomes untreatable and leads to certain death.

people exhibit peritonsillar abscessCan you get peritonsillitis without tonsils? The answer is yes. But most studies show that there are a lot less cases of this sickness in patients that do not have tonsils then in patients that still have them.

But this does not make a tonsillectomy a good prevention method to these abscesses because another set of studies show that people without tonsils are more likely to get pneumonia then people with tonsils. This thing happens because the bacteria responsible for pneumonia can remain in the tonsils and it is incapable of reaching the lungs.

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  • Updated April 15, 2017
James. Pepoon - May 17, 2016

I have suffered from a tumor in the right peritonsillar region for years. Unfortunately because it was un/misdiagnosis it has become malignant and spread to the right orbit. It is now stage 4. Anyone with a feeling of fullness in this area should see their physician even if there is no throat pain or fever. It could be a malignancy or hopefully benign and just need removal. Thank you!

    kelley - June 29, 2016

    wow James, so sorry to hear this happened to you. Praying you have a miraculous healing in Jesus name. Be blessed!

    Lindsey - July 22, 2016

    Hi, my 19 year old daughter had a peritonsillar abscess which was undiagnosed until it started oozing pus, she did not have needle aspiration but treated with antibiotics, she then had a tonsillectomy last year and now has been back in hospital with symptons of meningitis, they have now diagnosed pharingitis, she is still poorly and had high wbc and crp levels, she has a lump on the left side of her throat which is tender and is suffering with headaches, the doctors have said that peritonsillar abscess is not possible without tonsils, I am extreme ly worried especially as they had missed the abscess in the first place. Any advice would be appreciated thank you

      Sarah - August 14, 2016

      The lump on the side of the neck is the pus of the abscess traveling and collecting there. It needs to be lanced and the antibiotic she is on needs to be changed. The pus can travel down into the chest cavity around the heart and be fatal. Don’t let them fool you around any longer. I just went through this.

      Caron rogers - August 25, 2016

      My elderly mother has just been discharged from hospital following a procedure to remove what appeared to be a peritonsillar abscess. She had her tonsils removed in the 1940’s! Keep on at those doctors.

      Joi - November 20, 2016

      Your webers glands develop absesses even of you have your tonsils removed.

    Jean - February 7, 2017

    Prayers for you ❤

    Jimmy - August 16, 2017

    R u still alive

Mckayla - October 9, 2016

I’m 14, I just woke up from my throating burning and I was drooling what does this mean? 😭

Nicole - October 11, 2016

I have an peritonsillar abscess right now. I was in the emergency room over the weekend, they have me steroids in hope to shrink it and antibiotics. I was feeling better midday the very next day but still have the abcess. I went to see an emt doctor today and he looked at it and thinks it is going to go away by itself this time without needing to drain it. I’ve had this abscess before 4 years ago on the same side of my tonsils. The doctor suggests I get a tonsilectomy since this is now the 2nd time. I dont know if i should do the surgery or try to avoid it. I also worry this current abscess won’t be able to go away on its own and just fester til Im done with my antibiotics and come back. Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated! I dont know what to do. I have the surgery scheduled but am thinking about canceling. Thanks 🙂

    Joi - November 20, 2016

    Look up webers glands and peritonsillar absesses just so you are fully informed.

Lorraine L Bingham - November 2, 2016

My 32 year old son had a peritonsillar abscess for a week. the doctor hospitalized him and started him on antibiotics and as soon as he was done with the antibiotics the abscess came back full force and he had a tonsillectomy the next morning. it has been over a week and my son is no better, he can hardly swallow and sleeps often. I have not noticed any fevers but he cannot talk and has lost 20 lbs due to the ability to hardly eat anything. I am trying to get anything down him that he can tolerate and only if he takes ibuprofen first. Any suggestions would be great.

    Steven - September 20, 2017

    Did they ever lance it/drain it? I had it recurring monthly for months. Antibiotics would quickly eliminate it then it’d come back. I noticed that it seemed to happen if I had bit my cheek by mistake or if my wisdom tooth eventually tore into my gums etc. I started using a bit of hydrogen peroxide in my mouthwash and havent had it in a year and a half. Hopefully he’s been well.

cas - December 5, 2016

I had an extremley sore throat on the right side in september while on holiday , it came out of nowhere.Ended up in A+E Dr didnt know what it was I got anti-biotics and an anti-histimine, the pain was getting worse so we decided to go home next day.Back home I went to an out of hours Dr who gave me different anti-biotics ( liquid form) as I couldn’t swallow the pills! after 10 days the pain went , but after that I had a cough for nearly 2 months plus a wheezing in my left lung.
End of November sharp pain again in the right side of throat, earache, couldn’t swallow my saliva , eat or drink, went to Dr another round of anti-biotics within a week I had to go back toDocs as pain was getting worse! he sent me to hosp. to see ENT as soon as they seen it I was admitted and put on steroids and anti-biotic drips, thats night the pain just seared up again and a ghastly yuk taste busrdt in my mouth…. The abcess had ruptured! the ENT surgeon had seen me and said it popped naturally and i wouldn’t need it drained , home with 2 different kinds of anti-biotics and pain killers…. feeling rubbish plus I can still taste the poison dripping in my mouth during the night…. this has been a total nightmare of an illness

Dee - December 21, 2016

My 40 year old brother died from peritonsillar abscess.

    Karen Davidson - December 25, 2016

    Sorry about your loss of your brother. Can you elaborate more on how this condition led to his death? Was it a chronic condition or sudden onset. Was he otherwise healthy or ill or immunocompomised ?

    Lorena - June 3, 2017

    Hi my husband is currently here at hospital due to same sickness.can you pls tell me how he died pls.it will be very helpful to us.

Llinos Biddle - February 1, 2017

I’ve had quinsy twice now within 6 weeks of each other. The first time I was admitted to hospital where they sliced with a knife to get the puss out,the relief was instant. I was on drips of selain, two different anitibiotic, steroids and pain relief. I was in for 2 nights they had to burst it twice. I was off for a week with a doctors nots. This time I went to the doctors on a Friday she said it was an apsyss which is exactly the same. Got given 2 sets of antibiotics. Saturday was dreadfull but it wasn’t as bad as the first time. On Sunday morning it burst itself at home. I’ve been home 3 days. I am feeling loads better am going back to work tomorrow after 3 days of it bursting. Is it too soon because I feel nearly 90% better today?
I am really worried about getting it again its so painfull. But the doctors aren’t really that keen on taking out my tonsilis. Im a school teacher and beeing off sick like this is a nuisance. I am 39 years old.

Sally - March 11, 2017

Hi, I had the typical symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess. After being undiagnosed and on a zpack for 3.5 days I went to the ER where they gave me saline, painkillers and steroids. I felt at ease and waited for a cat scan where they confirmed an abscess. An ENTmspdcialist came in and tried to syringe the puss, but had to ultimately cut it open and drain it. I immediately felt better ( was at first traumatized from the experience) but had energy after ward…. was up till 3am. Today I have energy but my ability to speak clearly/ confidently/ without pain is a little worse than last night.
Maybe I just over exerted myself then ? I obviously have an open wound in my mouth but I’m making sure this is normal. Did anyone have issues with speech? How long ? I’m a server so I speak a lot and need to go back to work. Help.

The north face promo - March 17, 2017

I am constantly browsing online for tips that can help me. Thx!

James - April 3, 2017

My left tonsil looks exactly like the 2nd last picture in this article. I had swelling for about a week and I woke up one morning and it looked exactly like that picture. Does that mean that I had an abscess that burst and if so should I go see a doctor?

    Yolly - October 1, 2017

    i have my 2nd bout of this peritonsilitis. I thought at first it was just ordinary tonsilitis. but this 2nd attack only this sept. 18, gave me a fever since it started and my lymph node (right) got bigger and bigger. I went to the Doctor on the 5th day. I started only my antibiotics the next day, saturday. But that night was the worst day of my life. It became so painful, i salivate thickly i could not lie down to sleep afraid that i would choke. The next day sunday, I no longer have the voice to speak, it was so painful also and i could hardly swallow and jaw wont opened. Still i observed and bore the pain, on the third day, i went to my dentist and asked if my teeth was the culprit. She showed me the picture of my swollen and with abcess throat. She told me to go to the doctor right away. The next day, i went to the doctor who immediately told me i need to be hospitalized. He said that symptoms of salivating could have caused my death. I was in the critical period. So my advice. Don bear the pain. Go to the doctor to the doctor right away. This sickness is life threatening… God bless.

Lisa - April 7, 2017

I am 40, with tonsils and just got my first abcess this week. I have am able to eat and drink fine, but worry my doctor didn’t treat this correctly. She gave me penicillin and said if it gets worse, go to the ER.

Should it be drained, or will it likely go away with time and meds?

Mramey - May 22, 2017

All i can say is that its extremely pain just got back from docs.. And at this point its like ripped the tonsils out im done and i feel like ive been hit by a bus

Emilee - June 29, 2017

I went to the hospital Sunday thinking I had strep throat and an ear infection. The tests came back negative and said it was just a virl sore throat. Sent me home with lidocaine rinse and codeine for the pain. Tuesday I went back to the hospital and told them they are were wrong this is NOT a sore throat. I hadnt ate since Sunday and cannot even drink. They did a ct scan and I had an abscess. They sent me immediately to the ENT who gave me a shot of steroids and antibiotics and gave me a prescription for steroids, antibiotics, and some stronger pain meds. It is now Thursday and I am still somewhat sore and my tonsil still looks all white and nasty..I take my medicine how I am supposed to so hopefully my throat will be better by my follow up visit to the ENT.

Melissa Murphy - July 6, 2017

My right tonsil swelled up pretty bad along with my right lymph node. I woke up yesterday morning and was bleeding heavily from my throat. I went to urgent care and they gave me steroids and a cat scan. The abscess was very small. They sent me home with antibiotics and since yesterday the swelling is completely down. These comments concern me with people saying it arose again after the antibiotics. Should I be concerned?

Errin - August 13, 2017

I have now had my 3rd abscess removed all within one week and the scalp and drainage is the most pain I’ve ever experienced 🙁 I am terrified that I am going to need another one done and am at the point I want to refuse ever having it done again!

Erica - September 23, 2017

Hi there, just left the icu for a week due to an abscess. Came on fast. Earache, neck pain, extreme pain swallowing. Dr’s ended up transferring me to another hospital for emergency surgery. Was on a breathing tube and heavily sedated. This is very serious stuff. I’m home now but still cannot eat, drink or talk without pain. Stay on your docs! I had to be transferred to a top hospital before anyone even knew what to do with me.

craig - November 1, 2017

i had an abcess in my throat before that it was painfull as until it burst itself spat most of it out the puss felt heaps better got misdiagnost by the doctor saying was just a sore throat and would go away in a few few days got sum antibiots of her and a are taking those a t m and gargling salt water making anotyer apointment to see the doctor to say that i had an abcess and it burst and see where i go from there im 43 sorry bout spelling lol

Amina Abdi - November 23, 2017

Thanks for the article. I have had sore throat for a long time now, I usually have pus in my tonsilitis but the pus and the symptoms dissapear after using antibiotics only to appear in a week or a month. I visited an ENT specialist and she told me i need surgery to remove the pus. What i dont understand is what will the docter remove when the pus dissapears. If the surgery is just for the removal of pus I think i’ll require it anytime it appears. I realy want to know if something permanent is going to be removed.

Jennifer Fernandes - February 2, 2018

I just had my left tonsil lanced and drained 2 days ago and now the swelling has gone down BUT i have the feeling as if something is stuck in the back of my throat, deep in there beyond what I can see. Anyone experiance this?

    Hayden Breeze - February 21, 2018

    Yes! I was hospitalized from my abscess because I couldn’t breathe, had it drained and was released. Took me days to be able to eat, swelling has gone down and I feel better but I feel like I have something stuck in my throat but I can’t see anything feels like it’s small but it’s bothering me. They want to remove my tonsils but I can’t afford to miss work anymore than I just did dealing with the abscess. I don’t know what to do or how to make it go away. I try and stay hydrated all day but no matter what I drink or how much I can’t get this feeling to go away..

Denise - March 18, 2018

I had my tonsils removed 30 years ago and had one grow back. This now has an abscess. From what my doctor said, if the entire tonsil isn’t removed, they can grow back. Weird. The abscess is pretty gross and I’m hoping the antibiotics alone get rid of it.

Kathy - March 26, 2018

I had pneumonia in January and was treated with a Zpack. The day after I finished it I had a post tonsillary abscess that deviated my uvula. They gave me steroids and clindamycin. Today I noticed I had another abscess but on the opposite side and not as large this time. Then this evening it has decreased quite a bit. Should I be concerned & call my doctor tomorrow? Or would that be over reacting?

Cassandra C - October 10, 2019

Just got home from the ER with a Peritonsillar Abscess. Symptoms started 1 week ago with high fever and vomiting. No sore throat. After a few days, fever died down and sore throat began to ramp up. After a few days of extreme throat pain- couldn’t even swallow my saliva…- I went to Urgent care with diagnoses of Strep Throat. Began Amoxicillin. Took that for 3 days when symptoms were not going away but getting worse. Earache, Headache, swollen throat/neck.

Went to ER tonight, they suspected a Peritonsillar Abscess. Took a cat scan to confirm. Brought to ENT Doc to drain. Immediately I felt relief. Now told to stop Amoxicillin and was put on stronger antibiotics, steroids, and pain reliever. Told recovery in the next 7-10 days and to consider whether or not I want to have my tonsills removed. I have no prior history to ANYHTING ENT related. Read that tonsills removed can still have abscess’ form and it makes it even easier for the abscess to drain into lungs.

Any thoughts would be helpful!

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