What is the Connection Between Strep and Tonsillitis?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Often, people confuse strep and tonsillitis. In reality, strep and tonsillitis differ from each other, but both are capable of causing throat pain. Strep is a bacterium capable of causing a sore throat, while tonsillitis is the inflammation of the oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of a person’s throat. The two conditions can occur independent of each other or a strep infection may cause tonsillitis.

The reason people are often confused about the connection between strep and tonsillitis is the fact that both a strep infection and tonsillitis can cause a reddened, inflamed, painful throat. A person may, however, have strep throat, which is caused by the streptococcus bacterium, without having tonsillitis. Strep throat is contagious and is accompanied by such symptoms as spots of white and red on the throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen glands, and fever. A person may also develop a headache, stomach pain, or a rash because of strep throat.

An individual may also develop tonsillitis without having strep throat. This occurs when an infection other than strep causes the tonsils to become red and inflamed. This condition is often marked by pain, white or yellow coatings on the tonsils, trouble swallowing, fever, and headache. Often, a person with tonsillitis also has foul-smelling breath.


Strep and tonsillitis may also occur together. This happens when a person develops strep, and the bacterial infection causes a case of tonsillitis. In such a case, strep is the cause of tonsillitis. An individual may, however, develop tonsillitis that is caused by a range of other infections. Strep is only one of them.

The connection between strep and tonsillitis may also be evident in the treatments used for the conditions. When a person develops strep throat, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics for treating it. When an individual has tonsillitis, on the other hand, antibiotics aren't always effective for treating it. If the underlying cause of tonsillitis is strep or another type of bacterium, the antibiotics, in addition to home-care techniques, may prove helpful. If tonsillitis is caused by a virus, home-care remedies, such as salt-water gargling, throat lozenges, and over-the-counter pain and fever reducers, may be used as the primary method of treatment.

Strep and tonsillitis also differ in terms of surgical treatment. Surgery isn't usually used as a treatment method for strep throat. If a person has chronic or frequent cases of tonsillitis, however, a doctor may recommend surgery. Additionally, a doctor may sometimes recommend surgery when a case of tonsillitis that is caused by bacteria fails to respond to antibiotics.



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