Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Health A-Z

Tonsillitis - Causes of tonsillitis

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

It is estimated that around 8 out of 10 cases of tonsillitis are caused by a viral infection.

Viruses known to cause tonsillitis include:

In rare cases, tonsillitis can be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is the virus that causes glandular fever. If this is the case, you will probably feel very ill. You may have swollen lymph nodes (glands) throughout your body and an enlarged spleen.

Bacterial tonsillitis

Bacterial tonsillitis may be caused by a number of different bacteria, but is usually caused by group A streptococcus bacteria.

In the past, serious bacterial infections, such as diphtheria and rheumatic fever, have been associated with tonsillitis, but this is now very rare due to vaccination and improved treatment of these diseases.

How you catch tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is spread in the same ways as colds and flu. It's contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person sneezes or coughs. You can then become infected with the virus by breathing in these droplets from the air.

You can also become infected by handling a surface or object that these droplets have landed on and then touching your face.

Medical Review: February 02, 2012
Next Article:

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
woman holding hair
Natural help for dry or damaged hair
woman in bikini
Get ready for swimsuit season
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
79x79_not_good_for_you.jpg
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting